Do I Need a Camber?

civic
honda

#1

My tires have excessive wear on the inside. I have regularly had rotations (7k), and alignments (14k).I bought the 70k tires tires from Firestone, about 60k miles ago, they told me I need to replace the rear Cambers in order to stop the uneven wear. Is that typical?


#2

A camber isn’t a part. It’s the angle that your tire “leans” at. If there’s something worn out in your rear suspension that’s causing the camber angle to be out of spec too great to be adjusted back to spec, then you will get the type of wear you’re seeing.

Question: has anyone made any suspension modifications to this Civic? If so, the mechanica may be recommending a “camber kit”, which would allow the camber to be adjusted properly even with the modification. “Lowering” a Civic will cause this problem.


#3

Yeah, you’d better go buy a couple of Cambers.


#4

You should be aware that many cars are designed with camber angles that will help the car handle well, but are counter-productive for tire wear. So be careful listening to folks who say the car is "in spec’ so it’s OK.

The fact that your 70K tires went 60K, says your car isn’t doing badly in that department. But the fact that the tires wore unevenly says that it could do better. So it is worth looking at the camber specs to see if the camber is either out of spec or the spec is too large.


#5

I have a feeling the camber angle on this Civic is not adjustable from the factory. The only explanation why it wasn’t fixed with any of the 14K mile interval alignments. There is probably an add-on kit to make it adjustable. This might be what they are referring to.

And, yes. It is common enough that they make a kit for it.


#6

I think you’re right.

If the OP would like an idea what a camber kit is, I’d suggest googling “camber kit Civic”. Or even JC Whitney. They’re not expensive to buy or to install.


#7

I would love to get 60,000 out of a set of 70,00 mile tires on any car I have ever driven.


#8

WHAT IS CAMBER?

Camber is the angle of the wheel relative to vertical, as viewed from the front or the rear of the car. If the wheel leans in towards the chassis, it has negative camber; if it leans away from the car, it has positive camber (see next page). The cornering force that a tire can develop is highly dependent on its angle relative to the road surface, and so wheel camber has a major effect on the road holding of a car. It’s interesting to note that a tire develops its maximum cornering force at a small negative camber angle, typically around neg. 1/2 degree. This fact is due to the contribution of camber thrust, which is an additional lateral force generated by elastic deformation as the tread rubber pulls through the tire/road interface (the contact patch).

To optimize a tire’s performance in a corner, it’s the job of the suspension designer to assume that the tire is always operating at a slightly negative camber angle. This can be a very difficult task, since, as the chassis rolls in a corner, the suspension must deflect vertically some distance. Since the wheel is connected to the chassis by several links which must rotate to allow for the wheel deflection, the wheel can be subject to large camber changes as the suspension moves up and down. For this reason, the more the wheel must deflect from its static position, the more difficult it is to maintain an ideal camber angle. Thus, the relatively large wheel travel and soft roll stiffness needed to provide a smooth ride in passenger cars presents a difficult design challenge, while the small wheel travel and high roll stiffness inherent in racing cars reduces the engineer’s headaches.

It’s important to draw the distinction between camber relative to the road, and camber relative to the chassis. To maintain the ideal camber relative to the road, the suspension must be designed so that wheel camber relative to the chassis becomes increasingly negative as the suspension deflects upward. The illustration on the bottom of page 46 shows why this is so. If the suspension were designed so as to maintain no camber change relative to the chassis, then body roll would induce positive camber of the wheel relative to the road. Thus, to negate the effect of body roll, the suspension must be designed so that it pulls in the top of the wheel (i.e., gains negative camber) as it is deflected upwards.

While maintaining the ideal camber angle throughout the suspension travel assures that the tire is operating at peak efficiency, designers often configure the front suspensions of passenger cars so that the wheels gain positive camber as they are deflected upward. The purpose of such a design is to reduce the cornering power of the front end relative to the rear end, so that the car will understeer in steadily greater amounts up to the limit of adhesion. Understeer is inherently a much safer and more stable condition than oversteer, and thus is preferable for cars intended for the public.

Since most independent suspensions are designed so that the camber varies as the wheel moves up and down relative to the chassis, the camber angle that we set when we align the car is not typically what is seen when the car is in a corner. Nevertheless, it’s really the only reference we have to make camber adjustments. For competition, it’s necessary to set the camber under the static condition, test the car, then alter the static setting in the direction that is indicated by the test results.

The best way to determine the proper camber for competition is to measure the temperature profile across the tire tread immediately after completing some hot laps. In general, it’s desirable to have the inboard edge of the tire slightly hotter than the outboard edge. However, it’s far more important to ensure that the tire is up to its proper operating temperature than it is to have an “ideal” temperature profile. Thus, it may be advantageous to run extra negative camber to work the tires up to temperature.

(TOP RIGHT) Positive camber: The bottoms of the wheels are closer together than the tops. (TOP LEFT) Negative camber: The tops of the wheels are closer together than the bottoms. (CENTER) When a suspension does not gain camber during deflection, this causes a severe positive camber condition when the car leans during cornering. This can cause funky handling. (BOTTOM) Fight the funk: A suspension that gains camber during deflection will compensate for body roll. Tuning dynamic camber angles is one of the black arts of suspension tuning.

TESTING IS IMPORTANT

Car manufacturers will always have recommended toe, caster, and camber settings. They arrived at these numbers through exhaustive testing. Yet the goals of the manufacturer were probably different from yours, the competitor. And what works best at one race track may be off the mark at another. So the “proper” alignment settings are best determined by you-it all boils down to testing and experimentation.