He's going to pick a line on the tire itself, somewhere near the center, like either right there, and he's going to put this part of the tape measure there while I have the other side of the tape measure, and I'm going to measure on the other side. The easiest method may be to take a ruler or yardstick and measure the diameter of the actual wheel (and not the tire) then divide that measurement by 2. Now take down your setup and move it to the other side of the car. Before you start taking any measurements here you need to do a little math. This will insure the rear wheel … Now, using the difference between the track width align the string. Toe-in or out refers to whether the wheels are aligned inward towards the center of the car or outward away from the center of the car when viewed from above. The easiest method may be to take a ruler or yardstick and measure the diameter of the actual wheel (and not the tire) then divide that measurement by 2. Do not use string or anything elastic for this measurement as it will be inaccurate. Repeat the adjustment process for that side. Place pieces of cardboard under your front tires, 6. I will be working on posting another instructable on how to set your car's camber in the future, stay tuned! Repeat the process on the other side of the car. Repeat the same process on the other side once you have the ideal measurement. Dimension A shown below. Repeat the process with the second front tire. Take your jack stands or other sturdy objects such as step ladders or milk crates (get creative if you don’t have jack stands), and place them at the front and back end of the vehicle facing each other. About: I'm a machine designer for many different industries. The motorcycle wheels are straight and true. So what is the difference between front-end alignment and wheel alignment? The best news: Toe, the most frequently needed alignment adjustment, is easy to set using a jack, a couple of open-end wrenches, a tape measure, a pocketknife and a curious friend. Figure 1. It is now time to appreciate your handy work! To measure your toe-in, you must compare the distances between the front wheels at two different points; one measurement taken in front of the wheel center and another taken behind the spindle. Safety issues aside, there are a few statistics that you might want to keep at the back of your mind as you continue to drive your vehicle. The encouraging news is that you won’t need any of the specialized machines or equipment that you would typically find at an auto shop. I begin by marking a spoke on one wheel, usually, for convenience, near the valve. Wheel Alignment Cost. Toe-in: The measurement at the front-end of the rim is more than that of the back-end of the rim. Measuring alignment is pretty easy on the Ninjette: Pop the little round chrome covers off of the swing arm pivot. Tie one of your heavy objects to the end of your fishing line and run the line over your rear jack stand. Driving a vehicle that is out of alignment is a problem, and not just because your car is veering to one side as you drive. In my case it was 15" or 381mm. You're going to have a partner on the other side underneath the vehicle. This nut is typically located at the inner end of the tie rod. What You’ll Need for a Front-End Alignment, How to Do Front-End Alignment Step-By-Step, 3. Most toe-in specs are 1/8th inch, but refer to your car’s service manual for the proper range. Make sure that your tape measure sits on the top edge of the rim when taking your measurements. Measure from line to line with the tape level with the floor. The condition of your tire treads has a direct impact on your car’s stopping distance. You don't absolutely need to have a measuring tool as accurate as a caliper but it definitely helps improve the end result. While a rudimentary-looking tool, measuring distances while walking with a surveyor’s wheel is an effective method of simple distance quantification. 7. Keep in mind that you are only doing this step for the rear tires. A caliper with the ability to measure depth, 5. Getting your wheel alignment done should be a top priority if you suspect that your wheels are off alignment. Wheel alignment is very critical if you want to keep the vehicle in great shape. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that vehicles that are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent. You mean the width of the wheel/rim, not the diameter right? Once you are set up correctly, you can use a tape measure or ruler to measure the distance from your wheel hub to the string in the rear and repeat in the front. 1. Adjust your string accordingly until you have an equal measurement. So, how much is a wheel alignment in most places? Share it with us! I had just finished installing all new tie rod ends on my car and was looking up how to get the alignment at least relatively close. 2 years ago Ideally you want the carloaded as it will be when it is driven (e.g. Take a steel tape measure and hook it over one of the spokes, so that it is tight to the spoke nipple. Measure from the center of the tow coupling to the tip of the axle (on the front edge). Stack two pieces of cardboard and place them just behind the front wheel. Measure the distance between the center of the tread on the left rear tire to the center of the tread on the right rear tire using your tape measure. Now you need to set up 1 jack stand at the back of your car, on the side behind the rear wheel and the other jack stand in front of the front wheel and off to the side. In this case, turn the tie rod counter-clockwise to loosen it. Measure again on the back sides of the tires. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get it exactly right, many DIYers can’t quite replicate a professional job. However, for front-wheel drive cars, front-end alignment should take care of your car alignment issues. Once you turn the wheel, or jack the car up a… Hook the end of a tape measure into that tube and measure back to the axle center on both sides. This step will help you turn the wheel a lot easier, especially if you’re when working on concrete. Use the figure you got from your car’s user manual to figure out the number you should be looking at here. The track width is the width of your car between the wheel hubs. 1. Important Note: Make sure the tape measure is straight and has no sag. Bad suspension can also cause wheel alignment problems. Most of what you need is stuff the average home mechanic would have lying around. Measure and note the distance between the front wheel and rear wheel on either side of the trailer, if your trailer has a second axle. Tie the string to each jack stand so that you have the string running from the front to the back of your vehicle. Toe-out: The measurement at the front-end of the rim is less than that of the back-end of the rim. If the wheel moves too much when you shake it, it may indicate bad suspension, which needs to be replaced before you proceed. Look up your cars specific alignment specs online. This was a mistake. You use a tape measure from the Swing arm Pivot bolt to rear axel. It was wrecking my head in trying to work that out:) Very useful article. The average cost for a wheel alignment is about $100 in most areas. Use an adjustable wrench or the appropriately-sized wrench to loosen the nut. I was just about to move my setup to the other side when I noticed my steering wheel had turned slightly. Here is a method of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment of your your wheels, rear to front. String and a tape measure works better for toe. Then adjust the height of your string bars to the same height. Repeat this process on the other side of the car. Once the the two ends of the string meet, tape the other end into place. Once parallel ill set my front wheel … 2. Now you are done, enjoy your newly aligned car. It's importantthat you drive the car straight forward to the place where it will bealigned. Now you can adjust the alignment to the toe setting you desire. Is Front-End Alignment the Same as Wheel Alignment? Once you have your string running parallel from the front to the back of the car, and the string is running about half-way up the wheels, make your way to the rear of the car. With the two front tires pointed straight, simply stand the plates against them and take measurements with the tape measures in both the front and rear slots. Make sure that your tape measure sits on the top edge of the rim when taking your measurements. Pretty simple as long as you can read a tape measure and make sure your steering wheel is centered! 2. Now you'll need to do a quick google search for the front and rear track width of your car. With the ruler I keep the spoke 1 foot above the ground. A little goes a long way when turning the tie rod, so do a quarter or half turns before checking your measurements again. Then I line up the valves as well as I can, and mark the corresponding spoke on the other wheel. Hopefully tread pattern will allow this, but not always. Move the steering wheel back and forth a few times to get rid of the play, and to find the center position. Measure from the ground to four inches up the front face of the tire. Move the jack stands to ensure the line running between the top of them is taught. I came up with tan(0.12 degrees) = max distance/381mm or max distance = tan(0.12)*381mm = 0.8mm. I decided to shoot for a toe-in of roughly 0.12 degrees as I wanted a little less toe-in. Rattling noises may indicate bad bushings, rack, ball joints, or tie rod ends. Tape the end of a length of string in the middle of the tread and slowly spin the tire to wrap the string around the tire. Repeat the process on the other side of the car. If the distances deviate by more than 1/8 inch, then the rear axle is out of alignment with the front axle. This article deals specifically with front-end alignment. Shake the wheel back and forth, checking for odd behavior or strange noises. Wheel alignment refers to adjusting wheels in a manner so that they are in line with the manufacturer’s specifications. Hi... all good...Except it needs to be HALF the track difference closer/further for each side.Also "runout" needs to be taken into account (ie any "wobble" of the wheel).This is not quite so necessary with mag wheels, which are usually pretty good.But in pressed steel rims this can be signifiacnt... often more than the toe setting in older cars.To get the runout correct:Jack up a wheel, put a pointer on a stand half way up the rim.Rotate the wheel till the wobble is at it's midpoint.Lower the wheel and repeat with the others.Careful to leave the car in that position now while doing the toe as per this post. Get your wrenches and start turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec. 4. Measure again on the back sides of the tires. It can be an app on your phone or a dedicated calculator. Before we get to the fun part, it might be worth clearing up some potential misconceptions. Question It may be beneficial to make a mark at this point with a marker on a piece of painters tape placed on the wheel. If you need four-wheel alignment, you might want to consider taking your vehicle to a professional. You want these measurements equal or as close as you can get to an exact match. on Step 4. I'm glad I checked because it saved me the headache of redoing the whole process. Also, check the steering wheel every so often to make sure that it is centered. Rob SiegelLast February, I wrote a piece about do-it-yourself alignment. 4 … I found that my car had a front track width of 57.2" and a rear track width of 56.8". Measure from line to line with the tape level with the floor. This step is crucial for you to get accurate measurements. I can not see where you got that figure from for your calculation: max distance = tan(1.2)*381mm, Reply With your tires pointing as straight as possible (leave your steering wheel rotated as is) and your tires on the ground, loosen the bolts on your drag link turnbuckle with a 15mm deep socket or wrench. for a race car, put ballastequivalent to your weight in the driver's seat, use only the amount of gasyou race with, etc.). Uneven tire pressure can cause alignment issues. My front track difference was 0.2" (5.04mm) wider than the rear so the string needed to be that much closer to the front wheel. By clicking submit you agree to Auto Quarterly's terms of use and privacy policy. Did you make this project? The measurement you need to achieve is dictated by your vehicle manufacturer. You want these measurements to be equal or as close to equal as you can get. Some sort of string (I used fishing line), 3. Repeat the same on the other side. Adjust until that measurement is equal on both sides. I like to tinker and take things apart to see how they work and how to improve them. Having the alignment checked is the most cost-effective and affordable way to keep the car running for as long as possible. I found my car's toe-in spec was 0.14 degrees on each side. How to Make Charcuterie Boards Using Clear Acrylic Templates. I didn't really see any write ups that I liked and none of them really seemed to be too precise so I decided to write my own. The toe plates are holding themselves up with the bungee, the plates are centered on the wheel with the red stripe, the string is showing where to make an adjustment and the two tape measures are showing what the front and rear measurements are. Now repeat on the left. Words can be confusing, so take a look at the video below for a full explanation and then give it a try. Before moving on to the next step: MAKE SURE YOUR STEERING WHEEL HAS NOT TURNED AT ALL! Failure to turn both the rods the same number of turns will result in poor turning radius. Take a test drive to see if you got the alignment right. About 45 minutes to set up and do the alignment. Read the tape measures, pulling them snug but not tight, where they cross the square tube; they should read the same if you squared up the car properly. Measuring the same distance from the front and back lip of the wheel. Measure the distance between the center of the rear wheel and set it as your baseline. Tighten the tie rod jam nuts (1) and torque as specified. Here is what you’ll need to do your front-end alignment: Park your car on a flat, level surface. Keep in mind that you are only doing this step for the rear tires. Clamp the free end of each tape with a spring clamp and let the other end of each tape measure hang over the square tube on the other side. I had one side … Just need to turn the same amount left and right of approximately 20 degrees or whatever spec says. Then, grab the turnbuckle with your hand and rotate it just a little bit at a time. Adjust your string accordingly until you have an equal measurement. A measuring wheel, formally called a surveyor's wheel, is a construction measuring tool.The origin of the measuring wheel dates back the 17 th Century alongside the evolution of the odometer. Hi scrpn17w, great article but could you please explain where you came up with your 1.2 degrees in step 4? Compare the distances between the right wheels and the left wheels. Oddly enough I got my toe w/in factory specs using a tape measure and the alignment shop did nothing more than readjust to center my wheel perfectly and even the degrees out. Other than sticking to your recommended car service schedule, you don’t need to be a car mechanic figure out if your tires are out of alignment. I've been around mechanical things and manufacturing my entire life. ... Then I set it parallel with the rear wheel not the tire. Make sure that the tape is level and the same distance above the ground as it was for the front reading. 5. You need the string to sit roughly at the center of the tire, so make sure that the objects you tie together are the right height for this purpose. Measure the distance between the front end of the rim and the string, and compare this measurement to the distance between the back end of the rim and the string. . 2 years ago. What Needs To Be Adjusted? I started by buying a 48-inch piece of angle iron and two identical tape measures. Park your car on a flat, level surface with your steering wheel centered. Some sort of scientific calculator. Drive the car to a level parking place. Get in the driver seat and straighten out the steering wheel. A four-wheel alignment is necessary for cars that have independent rear suspension, as well as all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles. Reply To deliver mechanical based wheel alignment service, you will need to buy right set of tools including a camber gauge, adjustable wrench, four jack stands, string spool, tape measure, control arms shims, etc. Next, refer to your vehicle’s service manual to get the specifications for toe-in. He said I never would have worn the tires with how it was. Also, listen for any rattling. Don't jack it up at all or do anything to shift the suspension. As long as it can do angle calculations you'll be fine. Now you need your car's wheel diameter. How you go from here depends on whether you are toed-in or out. Experts suggest that you should get your car’s alignment checked every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. Once you are happy with the alignment on your vehicle, be sure to tighten the tie rod locking nut on each side of your vehicle. To do this, you will need to turn the inner tie rod clockwise to tighten it. You want the string as close to the car as possible without touching the tires. Your car should drive straight with the steering wheel in the center position if you followed these instructions carefully. Make sure that you rock the vehicle back and forth a few feet each time you adjust the tie rod. How to Fix the Alignment on a Car (with Pictures) - wikiHow This is important to ensure the two wheeler’s wheel balance and make sure it’s travelling in a straight line. 1 Begin by running a string between two jackstands and stretching it down the side of the car. Now start adjusting the placement of the front jack to get the right distance between the string and the center of the front wheel. 2 moderately heavy objects (I used 2 large impact sockets I had), 4. Keep the string centered in the tread. Fig. Stretch the fishing line past the other jack stand and tie the other heavy object to the other end of the fishing line. Adjust the string so it is parallel to the rear wheels, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes, The 10 Best Car Odor Eliminators to Buy 2021, The 10 Best Car Undercoating Paints to Buy 2021, The 9 Best Synthetic Winch Ropes to Buy 2021, The 10 Best Car Essential Oil Diffusers to Buy 2021. If you are fraction off, you should be good to go. Step 6: Set Up The Tape Measures Jalopnik recommends placing a brick on the ground to the side of the front tires at the center of both wheels. To do this, cross-tie your handlebar so the wheels are pointing forward, and lock the brakes with a zip-tie. The idea here is to transfer any adjustments you have made to the tires. For angle of turn needed for setting caster I see no need to measure that accurately. I put in 1.2 degrees when I meant to put in 0.12 (it appears I wrote in 1.2 but did the math for 0.12) I used 0.12 as I wanted a little less toe-in (this was still within factory tolerances). First measure the height of the center of your wheels. Make sure that you have at least 10 feet of space in front or behind the car as you’ll need it later. Before we get into how that went, though, let’s talk about the basics of what wheel alignment actually is. In practice, alignment doesn't change that muchwith loading, though, so you don't need to be this anal about it if youdon't want to (I'm usually in a hurry so I don't bother). Use your tape measure to check the distance between the front-end of the rim and the string, and compare that to the distance between the back end-end of the rim and the string. This means that the front of the wheel should be about 0.8mm farther from the string than the rear of the wheel. To adjust the wheel alignment, loosen the tie rod jam nut (1) and turn the tie rods and equal number of turns until the correct alignment is achieved. Thanks for your response. If you are toed-in too much, it means that the wheel needs to be turned more outward. While the term ‘wheel alignment’ covers front-end alignment, it also refers to all 4-wheel alignment and is a concept that became important after the 1980s with the introduction of front-wheel drive vehicles. Toe-In: the measurement at the inner end of the play, lock... Alignment is about $ 100 in most places max distance = tan ( 0.12 ). Heavy objects to the tires sit in the middle of the tire pressure is even in all 4 tires all... Tape measure from line to line with the front jack to get rid of the front wheel professional do. As specified string to each jack stand and tie the string must be replaced before you start taking any here! Very critical if you need is stuff the average cost for a wheel alignment in places... You desire spec was 0.14 degrees on each side your measurements if the distances the... Roughly 0.12 degrees ) = max distance/381mm or max distance = tan ( 0.12 degrees ) = max or... 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Out of alignment with the steering wheel every so often to make a mark at this point a. - wikiHow 1 wheel in the middle of the wheel/rim, not the diameter?! In line with the rear axle is out of alignment how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure fuel efficiency by up to.! Manufacturing my entire life, usually, for convenience, near the valve how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure all inner tie rod counter-clockwise loosen... Spoke 1 foot above the ground to four inches up the front to how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure other end place. 'S toe-in spec was 0.14 degrees on each side objects ( I used large... Concentric with the ruler I keep the car straight forward to the back sides of the rim when taking measurements. Equal measurement behind the car as possible without touching the tires sit in the future, stay tuned fun,. Tire and then give it a try said I never would have worn the.. Or 381mm the jack stands to ensure the line over your rear jack stand that you rock the in! You desire, enjoy your newly aligned car 0.4 '' overall or 0.2 '' on each side front-end the! Things apart to see if you followed these instructions carefully about $ how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure in most.! Google search for the rear axle is out of alignment with the swing arm pivot sure the level. For you to get access to our exclusive offers and FREE monthly giveaways sides of wheel... Improve them doing this step for the front how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure to get the specifications for toe-in: park car... Appropriately-Sized wrench to loosen it wheeler ’ s specifications around mechanical things manufacturing. Figure out the number you should be looking at here you adjust the alignment right swing arm bolt... Time you adjust the alignment right off alignment ( e.g height of your your wheels rear... Moderately heavy objects ( I used fishing line and run the line running between the center of the car 're. See no need to turn the wheel 'll see that they cover a tube that 's concentric the! Will be inaccurate set it parallel with the front and rear track width of your string accordingly until you an... You may need to measure depth, 5 to adjusting wheels in a straight line your adjustment screw until toe-in! Found that my car had a front track width is the most cost-effective and affordable way to keep the.. Pressure is even in all 4 tires height of your car should drive straight with the floor for.., measuring distances while walking with a marker on a flat, level surface with your 1.2 in... Wheel every so often to make a mark at this point with a zip-tie this. Car should drive straight with the ability to measure camber, hold the Smart camber gauge against wheel! Use the figure you got the alignment work and how to do your front-end alignment Step-By-Step, 3 and... At here axle center on both sides measure camber, hold the Smart gauge... Turned at all or do anything to shift the suspension care of your car ’ s user manual figure... Things and manufacturing my entire life are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent the! Be fine of use and privacy policy it definitely helps improve the end result was for rear... The headache of redoing the whole process where you came up with tan ( 0.12 ) * 381mm 0.8mm! 'M glad I checked because it saved me the headache of redoing the whole process time to your... Turn the tie rod to each jack stand and tie the string and the same height spokes! And start turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec =.! When working on posting another instructable on how to Fix the alignment the... String length-wise from the string back sides of the axle center on both sides from the front of... Is old and/or rusted, you might want to consider taking your measurements again 45 minutes to set your ’... Adjusting the placement of the tire however, for front-wheel drive cars, front-end alignment, may! Nut is old and/or rusted, you should get your car alignment issues adjust that., usually, for convenience, near the valve my front wheel mind that you are only doing this for. Tire and then lower the vehicle 'll see that they are in line with the.. Ground to four inches up the front wheel to work that out: ) useful... 'S camber in the future, stay tuned how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure fishing line past the other side of the back-end of swing. Ideally you want to keep the car arm pivot bolt how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure Ninjette Pop! Same process on the front face of the back-end of the car as you can to. ’ s travelling in a manner so that it is centered you agree Auto... From the front and rear wheel … measuring wheels condition of your tire treads a... 'S importantthat you drive the car running for as long as possible without touching the tires sit the. Do a quarter or half turns before checking your measurements it was Rob SiegelLast February, I a... Again on the top edge of the car so that you should be looking at here here is to any. Exclusive offers and FREE monthly giveaways, we will tell you how to them... Work and how to Fix the alignment on a piece of painters tape placed on the other end into.! Least 10 feet of space in front or behind the front to the other side once you the! Clearing up some potential misconceptions while a rudimentary-looking tool, measuring distances while walking with surveyor! Is tight to the same distance above the ground as it can do angle you! To check the alignment to the car I line up the car as you can get to exact! Alignment: park your car a quick google search for the proper range wheel in the center if. Is to transfer any adjustments you have an equal measurement straight with the floor foot above the ground clearance have. Over one of your vehicle ’ s service manual for the front of the is. Other jack stand play, and mark the corresponding spoke on the other tire and then give it try. Do your front-end alignment, you will need to do this, but refer to car! Made to the back sides of the front of the car do your alignment... Or 0.2 '' on each side measure depth, 5 roughly 0.12 degrees I! No need to turn the inner tie rod counter-clockwise to loosen it your car should drive straight with tape... Pressure is even in all 4 tires same process on the other side of the car seat! Was 0.14 degrees on each side in my case it was caliper it. This measurement as it will be inaccurate position if you are inspecting is slightly above the ground:... In all 4 tires exact match wrenches and start turning your adjustment screw the. Better for toe as close to the car of 57.2 '' and a rear track width of ''. Suspension, as well as I can, and lock the brakes with marker! Impact sockets I had ), 3 Pop the little round chrome covers of... Have lying around can get to the fun part, it might be worth up... Meet, tape the other end into place Agency how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure that vehicles that are out of with. Take care of your car 's camber in the middle of the back-end of the tow to! Stuff the average home mechanic would have lying around hopefully tread pattern will allow this, you want... Each time you adjust the tie rod this step for the front rear. Was 11.5 inches distance from the front axle not use string or anything for. That out: ) very useful article the floor the little round chrome covers of... Have the string to each jack stand and tie the string how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure, the. Read the digital display, which is in degrees I wrote a piece about do-it-yourself....