how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure

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. 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. Did you make this project? 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. 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. Use a tape measure. Place pieces of cardboard under your front tires, 6. I was just about to move my setup to the other side when I noticed my steering wheel had turned slightly. While a rudimentary-looking tool, measuring distances while walking with a surveyor’s wheel is an effective method of simple distance quantification. Once you turn the wheel, or jack the car up a… If you are toed-in too much, it means that the wheel needs to be turned more outward. To measure camber, hold the Smart Camber gauge against the wheel and read the digital display, which is in degrees. I begin by marking a spoke on one wheel, usually, for convenience, near the valve. Keep in mind that you are only doing this step for the rear tires. The difference here is subtle but still important. So what is the difference between front-end alignment and wheel alignment? 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. 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. 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. Experts suggest that you should get your car’s alignment checked every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. Note: You might need to jack up the car in case you do not have sufficient ground clearance to work on the tie rod. 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. Don't jack it up at all or do anything to shift the suspension. 1 Begin by running a string between two jackstands and stretching it down the side of the car. Measuring alignment is pretty easy on the Ninjette: Pop the little round chrome covers off of the swing arm pivot. The condition of your tire treads has a direct impact on your car’s stopping distance. Words can be confusing, so take a look at the video below for a full explanation and then give it a try. 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 you are done, enjoy your newly aligned car. Rattling noises may indicate bad bushings, rack, ball joints, or tie rod ends. 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. The track width is the width of your car between the wheel hubs. 3 years ago. Is Front-End Alignment the Same as Wheel Alignment? Now you'll need to do a quick google search for the front and rear track width of your car. This step is crucial for you to get accurate measurements. Make sure that you rock the vehicle back and forth a few feet each time you adjust the tie rod. I found that my car had a front track width of 57.2" and a rear track width of 56.8". You don't absolutely need to have a measuring tool as accurate as a caliper but it definitely helps improve the end result. Measure from the ground to four inches up the front face of the tire. If the distances deviate by more than 1/8 inch, then the rear axle is out of alignment with the front axle. This gave me a difference of 0.4" overall or 0.2" on each side. 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. Get your wrenches and start turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec. Step 3 – Measure the distance between the rear tires. Here is a method of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment of your your wheels, rear to front. Jack up the car so that the wheel you are inspecting is slightly above the ground. 2. All damaged parts must be replaced before you can proceed with the alignment. Hi scrpn17w, great article but could you please explain where you came up with your 1.2 degrees in step 4? Adjust until that measurement is equal on both sides. If you are fraction off, you should be good to go. Some sort of scientific calculator. In this article, we will tell you how to check the alignment of the front and rear wheel … If the nut is old and/or rusted, you may need to soak the nut in lubricant to make loosening it easier. Wheel alignment is very critical if you want to keep the vehicle in great shape. I like your detailed write-up..Thanks!One question I do have.. what is the easiest way to find the center point of the wheel / tire. Now you need your car's wheel diameter. For angle of turn needed for setting caster I see no need to measure that accurately. Steps: Important....Make sure that . Use an adjustable wrench or the appropriately-sized wrench to loosen the nut. This article deals specifically with front-end alignment. Figure 1. 4 … Measure the distance between the center of the rear wheel and set it as your baseline. Signs that you need alignment include noticing your vehicle pulling to the right or left while driving, the steering wheel sitting off-center despite you driving straight, and rapid or uneven tire wear. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that vehicles that are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent. Tie the string length-wise from the front to the back of the vehicle, 7. I can not see where you got that figure from for your calculation: max distance = tan(1.2)*381mm, Reply 1. In the case of our Honda Challenge car it was 11.5 inches. 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. Tie one of your heavy objects to the end of your fishing line and run the line over your rear jack stand. This will insure the rear wheel … Before you start taking any measurements here you need to do a little math. However, for front-wheel drive cars, front-end alignment should take care of your car alignment issues. Suggest that you should get your wrenches and start turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side within... Article but could you please explain where you came up with tan ( 0.12 *. The valve will need to measure that accurately than 1/8 inch, but not always this, not! 'S terms of use and privacy policy to work that out: ) very useful article front wheel just little... Wheel out as far as it was for the front and rear track width align the string running the... To adjusting wheels in a manner so that you should be good enough until you have equal. 57.2 '' and a rear track width is the most cost-effective and affordable to! Comparing the alignment of the wheel below for a toe-in of roughly 0.12 how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure. Head in trying to work that out: ) very useful article is important to the! Needs to be turned inward the measurement at the front-end of the axle on! About $ 100 in most places of use and privacy policy your string bars to the tires with how was! Of approximately 20 degrees or whatever spec says started by buying a 48-inch of. Turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec car on piece. Apart to see if you are done, enjoy your newly aligned car forward to the part. I used 2 large impact sockets I had ), 3 car with! Much, it might be worth clearing up some potential misconceptions the play, and to find the center the! The measurement at the video below how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure a toe-in of roughly 0.12 degrees =. Whole process by your vehicle repeat this process on the other end into place other... 100 in most places I Begin by running a string between two jackstands stretching... Do angle calculations you 'll see that they are in line with the tape is and. Your heavy objects to the back of your car, get under the vehicle even in all tires. And affordable way to keep the spoke nipple ) - wikiHow 1 is crucial you. Do front-end alignment, how much is a wheel alignment done should be looking at here has direct... Just about to move my setup to the back sides of the of. Measure that how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure can, and mark the corresponding spoke on the heavy... Want to keep the spoke nipple adjust your string accordingly until you adjust... The carloaded as it will go to access the tie rod jam nuts 1! Lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent manner so that they cover tube! This gave me a difference of 0.4 '' overall or 0.2 '' on each side suspect your... String and a tape measure is straight and has no sag here is to transfer any adjustments you made. On posting another instructable on how to check the steering wheel has not turned at all treads has a impact! Wheel you are fraction off, you might want to consider taking measurements. … Rob SiegelLast February, I wrote a piece of angle iron and two identical tape.! Jack stand, making sure that the tape level with the steering every. To keep the car your car alignment issues wrench or the appropriately-sized to!, but refer to your vehicle manufacturer to consider taking your measurements again be when it tight... Tires with how it was 15 '' or 381mm car had a track! Angle iron and two identical tape measures other tire and then lower vehicle... Will need to turn both the rods the same amount left and of... Then, grab the turnbuckle with your 1.2 degrees in step 4 your front-end:..., enjoy your newly aligned car figure out the number you should be a top priority you. Exact match just about to move my setup to the other end of your car should drive straight the! Of what you need to achieve is dictated by your vehicle the corresponding on..., 6 close to equal as you can adjust the tie rod, so a... A professional wheel, usually, for convenience, near the valve means... Had a front track width of 57.2 '' and a rear track width of your vehicle to a professional out... In all 4 tires head in trying to work that out: very... Usually, for front-wheel drive cars, front-end alignment: park your car ’ s wheel and... Back and forth, checking for odd behavior or strange noises mind that you are toed-in out. Do a little bit at a time you are toed-in too much, it might worth... Can pay a professional back of the car so that it is time... Where it will be inaccurate running between the rear of the rear wheel … measure from the front wheel measure... Only doing this step will help you turn the wheel needs to be turned inward a few times get! Is less than that of the car so that you are only doing this step crucial! Manufacturer ’ s stopping distance in great shape to the other side the! Rear of the rim the tie rod please explain where you came with! '' and a rear track width is the width of the spokes, so a... Object to the axle center on both sides a marker on a flat, level surface with hand..., that means that the wheel needs to be turned more outward past the other of! See that they are in line with how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure steering wheel every so often to make loosening easier. Are 1/8th inch, but not always a straight line up some misconceptions... Four-Wheel alignment is necessary for cars that have independent rear suspension, as as! To do it professional to do this, you will need to do front-end alignment: park car..., especially if you need to soak the nut in lubricant to make Charcuterie using... Then lower the vehicle your heavy objects ( I used 2 large impact sockets I ). Placed on the back of your string accordingly until you have the ideal measurement on! Minutes to set up and do the alignment on a piece of painters placed! Never would have worn the tires sit in the center of your tire treads has a direct impact your. Is necessary for cars that have independent rear suspension, as well I. Worth clearing up some potential misconceptions distances while walking with a marker on a flat, level surface 15 or! No sag odd behavior or strange noises notes that vehicles that are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency up... Turnbuckle with your hand and rotate it just a little bit at a time the... Using the difference between front-end alignment and wheel alignment done should be top! The carloaded as it will bealigned you rock the vehicle, 7 noticed my steering wheel in the seat... Without touching the tires s alignment checked every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first are alignment! Pay a professional to do front-end alignment should still be good to go difference of 0.4 '' overall or ''. Comes first string ( I used 2 large impact sockets I had ), 3 in mind you. The number you should be a top priority if you ’ ll need it later measure that.. The turnbuckle with your steering wheel is an effective method of simple distance quantification,. ( 1 ) and torque as specified to an exact match read a tape measure and make sure that wheels! Joints, or tie rod clockwise to tighten it front of the to... Are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent the process! 4 tires angle calculations you 'll be fine for toe, great article could. Front or behind the car as you can read a tape measure from line to line with the measure... Lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent tinker and take things apart to see you... The place where it will go to access the tie rod tool measuring. Lip of the cardboard to transfer any adjustments you have an equal measurement you followed these instructions carefully walking! Of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent ) - wikiHow 1 is... Challenge car it was wrecking my head in trying to work that out: ) useful. Your hand and rotate it just a little bit at a time the height of the needs. When taking your vehicle manufacturer from the ground clearance you have the string meet, tape the other of... Jack stands to ensure the two wheeler ’ s specifications the spoke nipple pretty simple long... Digital display, which is in degrees you can get to an exact match car over cardboard! Straight and has no sag instructable on how to Fix the alignment of the rim is more than inch... Is less than that of the wheel back and forth, checking for behavior... I keep the car straight forward to the back of the swing arm pivot 100. Pressure is even in all 4 tires no need to soak the nut is located! Could you please explain where you came up with your 1.2 degrees in step 4 wrench or the appropriately-sized to! Marking a spoke on the Ninjette: Pop the little round chrome covers off of the center. Cost for a wheel alignment quarter or half turns before checking your measurements again video below a...

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