Front Suspension & Steering:Front Wheel Alignment using a Digital Level

A very precise front end alignment that will blow you away on how easy it is to do!
Accurately setting the caster, camber with cheap digit level.
Here is a play by play for measuring any car's alignment. I expect you already understand how to adjust these things and I posted the 1st gen specs, so pay attention to the means and I'll show you my end results.
Remember to set the brake once parked and be responsible you your own safety. (that was my disclaimer)

First, don’t assume everything is good enough to be fairly road worthy to start with.
I have new tires and everyone knows a car with new tires drives much different than one with almost bald tires. New tires do hide the true handling of the vehicle, Just as a half worn tire will have a effect on the alignment your going to do.
Second, make sure your steering wheel is ALWAYS straight during making the adjustments.

1st Gen, max and d50 trucks “ a quote from thee manual”
Caution: Be sure to adjust caster before adjusting camber.I’m 90% sure the 2nd gen trucks are the same settings.

Rear wheel model caster, 2* 30’ +/- 1*....Toe-in 2 mm to 9 mm ( .08 to .35 in. ) (4 wheel toe is same)
Yes that is 2 degrees, 30’minutes. The decimal number of degrees is 2.5.
This angle is positive.
A total of 4 mm ( .16 in.) shim thickness is normally required for a standard camber.
A 1.0mm ( .39 in.) adjustment in thickness of shims will provide about 13 minutes adjustment of camber.

Camber, Adjust the number of shims between upper arm shaft and cross member.

Toe-in can be adjusted by turning the left tie-rod turnbuckle.
A one half revolution of the turnbuckle will change toe-in adjustment by 7.5 mm ( .3 in.)
The toe in may be increased or decreased by turn the tie-rod turnbuckle toward the front or rear of the truck respectively. After the completion of the toe-in adjustment, check the difference in the length of the left and right tie-rods. If the difference exceeds 5 mm
( .2 in.), remove the right tie rod and adjust the length until the difference is reduced to 5 mm ( .2 in.) or less. “L” stamped on the outer surface of the tie rod stands for left hand thread ends.

4 wheel drive models 2* +/- 1*
A total of 3 mm ( .12 in.) shim thickness is normally required for standard camber.
A 1.0mm ( .39 in.) adjustment in thickness of shims will provide about 13 minutes adjustment of camber.
Camber, Adjust the number of shims between upper arm shaft and cross member.
4-wheel drive models, toe -in can be adjusted by turning the right and left tie-rod turnbuckles. Toe-in adjustment should be made by turning the right and left tie-rods the same amount in opposite directions. Toe-in on the left wheel can be reduced by turning the tie-rod in the direction of the wheel rotation for forward movement. To reduce toe-in on the right wheel, turn the tie-rod in the direction of wheel rotation in a backward direction. A one half revolution each of left and right turnbuckle will change the total toe-in in about 15 mm (.6 in.).
Sounds difficult, but it’s really not. It’s just doing some simple adjustments.

You will need some kind of camber plates to make life easy. This is how I did mine with pre laid out lines with the 20* ®, 0* and 20* (L) on the plates, and using about 15 drops oil dropped in various locations in between (do not use grease) to make the plates slick.
This lets the wheels turn easily when you adjust toe and measure caster.

You can jack up your truck/car and put the camber plates under the tire and square up off the floor to find the center of the spindle, making sure your on zero, slowly let the jack down, then bounce the rig up and down so the suspension will relax, then check the center again. You’ll find your close, but not close enough. Before your jack it up, square off the floor again centering the square on the spindle and read what the square is reading then make that adjustment to get center.
After that, remember to bounce the vehicle, it does matter. Recheck centers and 0*.

Now I’m assuming you know your bushings, tie rods ends, and ball joints are good.
The very first thing you should do is check off of the ball joint studs (not the nuts) both top and bottom. What we’re going to do is go straight to the source that sets the caster, positive caster is the lower ball joint that sets forward of the upper joint. Turn the wheel so can get around caliper to get both the studs, These points don’t move while setting in your driveway, so you’ll be fine.
Here is what tools I used to find the degrees.

Now is the ball joint forward of the top? Grab a peace of paper and pencil that reading down,
Now to check the camber. Using the digital level off the rim keeping it fairly straight up and down, this is same place where you will check it every time in each turn. Take the reading and write it down. Positive camber, the top of the tire leans out.
Write that number down.
We’ll use the caster plates later if you don’t need adjustment now.
If your not with in camber tolerance this is the time your move your upper control arm.
Looking down on the control arms and you’ll see which way to move the upper control arm back or forward. Be fully aware of every move you make here changes the camber.
This could take you 5 times to get it close both tolerances.

Now adjust the toe, You can measure off the tire, if you measure from the same places on the tire will give you a center to center measurement.

Are you close now? If so, now use the caster plates . Make sure your still on 0*. You can mark the steering, I placed one small piece of masking tape on the column with line on it making this 0* then turned the wheel and placed 2 pieces of tape on the steering wheel marking the 20* turns with lines and L and a R. Indicating what turn they are. Turn back to 0* and check you caster plates. If they moved, you know the routine.
This is exactly why the tape come in handy in those places. For me, those marks will stay for couple weeks so I can keep an eye on things. Not using caster plates

My factory settings are:
“Camber“ 0.25*- to 1.25*
“Caster” .5* to 1*+
“Toe in” 0” to ¼”
So what we’re doing is finding the degree difference in the turns
If we get a reading of 89.2.4* (right turn) and 88.3*(left turn) my caster is at .9*+ (but if you did not start out the way I did off the ball stud, it could be .9-)
This is how you should write the numbers down, always the same the order I’ve shown you below, the higher degree # is always in front of the tire )

My adjustments came in @
Passenger side "caster"
89.4* (right turn)and 88.7*(left turn)= .7*+
Drivers side
89.3*(right turn)and 88.6*(left turn) = .7*+
P.S. .4*+
D.S. .5*+
Toe in @ 1/8”

You can see my turn numbers on only 1/10th of degree out.
After I drove it for about 50 miles, I re checked my alignment.
The passenger side caster moved .4* all the way to .9*+
(Which is still in factory spec). Today’s adjustments
89.3* and 88.5* = .8*+
88.5* and 89.2*+ = .7*+
P.S. .5*+
D.S. .5*+
This is very tight settings!
Yes I could go to the alignment shop and pay? and they’ll set my alignment to factory specs.
Caster .5 to 1*+
Camber .25 to 1.25*+
Will they set both caster and camber to what I have shown you? Absolutely not, just in tolerance.
The whole point here is be very picky with my alignment, close as possible settings makes a better drive and longer tire life.
Created by , 07-14-2011 at 09:44 PM
Last edited by , 11-11-2012 at 12:16 AM
Last comment by on 07-16-2011 at 01:08 AM
1 Comments, 7,316 Views

Tags for this Page



Posting Permissions

Posting Permissions
  • You may not create new articles
  • You may not edit articles
  • You may not protect articles
  • You may not post comments
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your comments