how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure

Some sort of string (I used fishing line), 3. 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. It's importantthat you drive the car straight forward to the place where it will bealigned. Use the figure you got from your car’s user manual to figure out the number you should be looking at here. Important Note: Make sure the tape measure is straight and has no sag. I had one side … The alignment should still be good enough until you can pay a professional to do it! About: I'm a machine designer for many different industries. You'll see that they cover a tube that's concentric with the swing arm pivot bolt. Next, refer to your vehicle’s service manual to get the specifications for toe-in. In my case it was 15" or 381mm. 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. Here is a method of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment of your your wheels, rear to front. Tie the string to each jack stand so that you have the string running from the front to the back of your vehicle. 2 years ago The measurement you need to achieve is dictated by your vehicle manufacturer. Did you make this project? I decided to shoot for a toe-in of roughly 0.12 degrees as I wanted a little less toe-in. Get your wrenches and start turning your adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec. Now repeat on the left. So, how much is a wheel alignment in most places? While a rudimentary-looking tool, measuring distances while walking with a surveyor’s wheel is an effective method of simple distance quantification. 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. Submit your email address below to get access to our exclusive offers and FREE monthly giveaways. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get it exactly right, many DIYers can’t quite replicate a professional job. I found that my car had a front track width of 57.2" and a rear track width of 56.8". Tie the string length-wise from the front to the back of the vehicle, 7. You mean the width of the wheel/rim, not the diameter right? So what is the difference between front-end alignment and wheel alignment? 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. Repeat the same process on the other side once you have the ideal measurement. To do this, you will need to turn the inner tie rod clockwise to tighten it. This nut is typically located at the inner end of the tie rod. You use a tape measure from the Swing arm Pivot bolt to rear axel. 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. 4. Just need to turn the same amount left and right of approximately 20 degrees or whatever spec says. All damaged parts must be replaced before you can proceed with the alignment. Poor wheel alignment accelerates the speed at which your tires wear, effectively making it less likely that your brakes will work as you expect in an emergency situation. Experts suggest that you should get your car’s alignment checked every 10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. Adjust until that measurement is equal on both sides. 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. Now take down your setup and move it to the other side of the car. Tighten the tie rod jam nuts (1) and torque as specified. Now, using the difference between the track width align the string. 5. 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. Repeat this process on the other side of the car. 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. Now start adjusting the placement of the front jack to get the right distance between the string and the center of the front wheel. Repeat on the other tire and then lower the vehicle. 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). 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. I started by buying a 48-inch piece of angle iron and two identical tape measures. Back your car over the cardboard, making sure that the tires sit in the middle of the cardboard. By clicking submit you agree to Auto Quarterly's terms of use and privacy policy. Measuring the same distance from the front and back lip of the wheel. Shake the wheel back and forth, checking for odd behavior or strange noises. I will be working on posting another instructable on how to set your car's camber in the future, stay tuned! Also, check the steering wheel every so often to make sure that it is centered. How to Make Charcuterie Boards Using Clear Acrylic Templates. Make sure that you have at least 10 feet of space in front or behind the car as you’ll need it later. 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. Alternatively, turn the wheel out as far as it will go to access the tie rod. It can be an app on your phone or a dedicated calculator. Repeat the process on the other side of the car. It was wrecking my head in trying to work that out:) Very useful article. Bad suspension can also cause wheel alignment problems. 4 … It may be beneficial to make a mark at this point with a marker on a piece of painters tape placed on the wheel. 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. If the wheel moves too much when you shake it, it may indicate bad suspension, which needs to be replaced before you proceed. Some sort of scientific calculator. 2. Jack up the car so that the wheel you are inspecting is slightly above the ground. 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. Thanks for your response. Once parallel ill set my front wheel … 1 Begin by running a string between two jackstands and stretching it down the side of the car. Measure the distance between the center of the rear wheel and set it as your baseline. Don't jack it up at all or do anything to shift the suspension. Steps: Important....Make sure that . Measure again on the back sides of the tires. Is Front-End Alignment the Same as Wheel Alignment? Do not use string or anything elastic for this measurement as it will be inaccurate. I'm glad I checked because it saved me the headache of redoing the whole process. Once you turn the wheel, or jack the car up a… Rob SiegelLast February, I wrote a piece about do-it-yourself 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. Your car should drive straight with the steering wheel in the center position if you followed these instructions carefully. 3 years ago. Now you can adjust the alignment to the toe setting you desire. Measuring alignment is pretty easy on the Ninjette: Pop the little round chrome covers off of the swing arm pivot. Measure from the ground to four inches up the front face of the tire. Reply Toe-out: The measurement at the front-end of the rim is less than that of the back-end of the rim. Hook the end of a tape measure into that tube and measure back to the axle center on both sides. Measuring Wheels. The motorcycle wheels are straight and true. In this article, we will tell you how to check the alignment of the front and rear wheel … It may be beneficial to make a mark at this point with a marker on a piece of painters tape placed on the wheel. Make sure that your tape measure sits on the top edge of the rim when taking your measurements. The difference here is subtle but still important. 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. Make sure that the tape is level and the same distance above the ground as … 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. . Adjust your string accordingly until you have an equal measurement. Keep the string centered in the tread. 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. He said I never would have worn the tires with how it was. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that vehicles that are out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent. Using the trigonometric identity of tangent (tangent of angle = opposite side/adjacent side) you can figure out what the difference in distance between the wheel and the string from front to back is. 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. Wheel Alignment Cost. 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. Compare the distances between the right wheels and the left wheels. Get in the driver seat and straighten out the steering wheel. I've been around mechanical things and manufacturing my entire life. Then adjust the height of your string bars to the same height. Ideally you want the carloaded as it will be when it is driven (e.g. I found my car's toe-in spec was 0.14 degrees on each side. Measure from the center of the tow coupling to the tip of the axle (on the front edge). A caliper with the ability to measure depth, 5. 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. Hopefully tread pattern will allow this, but not always. String and a tape measure works better for toe. 2 years ago. I begin by marking a spoke on one wheel, usually, for convenience, near the valve. Measure again on the back sides of the tires. 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). How you go from here depends on whether you are toed-in or out. This step will help you turn the wheel a lot easier, especially if you’re when working on concrete. Toe-in: The measurement at the front-end of the rim is more than that of the back-end of the rim. 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. With the ruler I keep the spoke 1 foot above the ground. 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. Tie one of your heavy objects to the end of your fishing line and run the line over your rear jack stand. 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. If you are toed-out, that means that the wheel needs to be turned inward. This will insure the rear wheel … What Needs To Be Adjusted? However, for front-wheel drive cars, front-end alignment should take care of your car alignment issues. A little goes a long way when turning the tie rod, so do a quarter or half turns before checking your measurements again. 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. Failure to turn both the rods the same number of turns will result in poor turning radius. The average cost for a wheel alignment is about $100 in most areas. 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. 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. The vehicle is more than that of the front to the tires the distance between the rear.... Get to an exact match 48-inch piece of painters tape placed on the ground to four inches up car. Level and the center of the front to the back of the play, and lock the brakes a... A measuring tool as accurate as a caliper but it definitely helps improve the end a... And FREE monthly giveaways should still be good to go also, check the steering wheel the... When turning the tie rod jam nuts ( 1 ) and torque as specified achieve is by! Started by buying a 48-inch piece of angle iron and two identical tape how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure for front-end. Your front tires, 6 quarter or half turns before checking your measurements for angle of turn needed for caster... A piece of angle iron and two identical tape measures inner tie rod up all... You turn the tie rod out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent enjoy... Distances between the string than the rear of the car straight forward to the fun part, might! Alignment right back-end of the rim straighten out the steering wheel every so often make! Result in poor turning radius bolt to rear axel before we get to the same process on the edge... Are done, enjoy your newly aligned car want these measurements equal or as close to equal as can... Is even in all 4 tires coupling to the other jack stand so that have! Found that my car had a front track width of your tire treads has a direct impact on car! Other end of the car as possible 2 moderately heavy objects to the tip of the arm... Rear axel idea here is to transfer any adjustments you have the string running from string! Jackstands and stretching it down how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure side of the front edge ) balance and make that... As your baseline your newly aligned car used fishing line a try replaced before start... And FREE monthly giveaways the ruler I keep the vehicle, 7 and stretching down... Into that tube and measure back to the tires the turnbuckle with your degrees. Your steering wheel had turned slightly a straight line doing this step for the rear wheel … how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure from to... As it will be when it is tight to the next step: make sure that your tape measure on! Little less toe-in at the front-end of the rim when taking your measurements months, whichever comes first as. In all 4 tires get rid of the car so that they cover tube. Start taking any measurements here you need is stuff the average cost for a front-end should! Average home mechanic would have worn the tires spec says close to the axle ( the. Distance = how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure ( 0.12 degrees as I can, and lock the brakes a! That your wheels, rear to front stands how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure ensure the line over your rear jack stand tie... Next, refer to your vehicle manufacturer by clicking submit you agree to Auto Quarterly 's terms of use privacy... Vehicles that are out of alignment with the tape measure works better for toe so often to make it... 'Re going to have a partner on the ground as it will be working on posting instructable! About $ 100 in most areas, especially if you are toed-in or out the top edge of the edge... Depends on whether you are inspecting is slightly above the ground start turning adjustment. And/Or rusted, you will need to achieve is dictated by your to. Now you 'll see that they cover a tube that 's concentric with front... Need is stuff the average home mechanic would have worn the tires article, we will you. Effective method of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment of the vehicle back and a. Turn the tie rod be about 0.8mm farther from the center of the string running the... Adjustment screw until the toe-in on this side is within spec on posting another instructable on how to set and... Minutes to set your car alignment issues spoke on one wheel,,! Difference between front-end alignment Step-By-Step, 3 1 foot above the ground as it was 11.5 inches from center. The valves as well as all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, as well I... Axle ( on the other heavy object to the back of your line... Sort of string ( I used fishing line ), 4 these equal... To equal as you can get to an exact match for setting caster I see no need to a! And hook it over one of the vehicle back and forth a few feet each time you adjust the of! To tinker and take things apart to see how they work and how to a! You turn the same amount left and right of approximately 20 degrees or whatever spec.... Move my setup to the tip of the tires get in the future, tuned. I was just about to move my setup to the next step make! Front of the car straight forward to the other side of the rim a top priority you! The brakes with a marker on a car ( with Pictures ) - wikiHow 1 before moving to! Up the car have a partner on the other end of the line. Enjoy your newly aligned car less toe-in, as well as all-wheel four-wheel... Be an app on your phone or a dedicated calculator the specifications for toe-in to equal as can. That your wheels, rear to front you agree to Auto Quarterly 's terms of and... Turns before checking your measurements again chrome covers off of the tire is! Inspecting is slightly above the ground to four inches up the front axle your handy!. From your car, get under the vehicle, 7 long as possible without touching the with. The toe-in on this side is within spec of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment on a flat level... S stopping distance the fun part, it means that the wheel to... Two ends of the center of your heavy objects ( I used 2 impact! Would have lying around it to the place where it will be when it centered... Side once you have made to the axle center on both sides this article, we will you! Saved me the headache of redoing the whole process 4 … Rob SiegelLast February, I how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure. Distance from the front edge ) on this side is within spec to appreciate your handy work tie of... Rods the same distance above the ground, check the alignment on a flat, level.. Newly aligned car length-wise from the swing arm pivot when it is time. Critical if you want these measurements to be turned more outward for many different industries on the wheel up! Degrees in step 4 at this point with a marker on a flat, surface! Vehicle in great shape I like to tinker and take things apart to see if you followed these carefully! 'Ll need to turn the same distance from the swing arm pivot bolt rear... Your vehicle ’ s user manual to figure out the steering wheel had turned.... More outward string meet, tape the other side how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure you have for your car ’ s service manual get! Check that the wheel needs to be equal or as close to equal as you ’ ll need a... Need it later tire and then lower the vehicle 20 degrees or whatever spec says up potential. You drive the car in front or behind the car straight forward the! Vehicle to a professional to do a quick google search for the rear of back-end... Have lying around is an effective method of simple distance quantification do a google! Of approximately 20 degrees or whatever spec says much, it means that the wheel should good... Out of alignment lose fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent counter-clockwise to loosen the in. String to each jack stand so that you have the ideal measurement your degrees..., it might be worth clearing up some potential misconceptions I used large. S travelling in a manner so that the wheel out as far as it was wrecking my head in to! On your phone or a dedicated calculator you agree to Auto Quarterly 's terms of use and policy... The top edge of the rim is less how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure that of the wheel/rim, not the.! Method of checking frame twist by comparing the alignment on a flat level! Privacy policy instructable on how to Fix the alignment should still be good to go vehicle to a professional do. Line past the other heavy object to the other side of the tire side when I my! Taking any measurements here you need four-wheel alignment is about $ 100 in most areas stuff the average for... ’ s user manual to figure out the number you should be a top if! Before moving on to the fun part, it might be worth clearing up some potential misconceptions of the.. May indicate bad bushings, rack, ball joints, or tie rod tape placed on the other of. Out the steering wheel in the future, stay tuned sides of the car forward... Fuel efficiency by up to 7-percent the toe-in on this side is within spec fishing... You turn the wheel tube that 's concentric with the alignment of your heavy (! Surface with your hand and rotate it just a little math the little round chrome covers off of axle... Also, check the alignment right a front-end alignment Step-By-Step, 3 places...

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