I would like to know just exactly how wheel alignment is performed on cars with the non-adjustable camber, toe and caster. I know all cars have alignment specs, but how are the alignment specs possible without adjustable toe/caster/camber control arms? Sorry if this is a really oblivious question, I’ve been searching everywhere for an answer to this and I can’t find one.
Toe is always adjustable, at least on the front end of the car.
Camber and caster not always. On cars that have no provision for camber adjustment, there are several different methods. One may be to loosen strut mounts and pry things into spec and tighten the bolts. Another may be to remove the factory control arm and replace it with an aftermarket one that has adjustment sleeves or eccentrics, a common thing for us to do on Honda Accords and Pilots. Ford trucks use shims where the upper ball joint connects to the car, if camber is out of spec we can change those shims. Sometimes there is an aftermarket ball joint that will change the camber when it is installed. Caster is not as critical and we will sometimes ship a car with caster out of spec if it drives well.
On many cars if the camber is out of spec it means something is bent. We regularly replace struts or a steering knuckle if camber is out of spec.
Alright. So sometimes camber and caster arent adjustable without aftermarket parts? And also, I would assume that not having freely adjustable camber would mean you couldn’t go to an alignment shop and tell them how much camber/toe/caster you want…
Ford Twin-I-Beams were designed to be aligned by heating them and twisting and bending them in a press to set caster and camber.
They now have camber kit’s for the ford twin-I-beam’s
Sure you could. We do a lot of alignments where I work, and many of them are “custom” alignments, where the customer has the specs they want and we figure out how to do it. Of course it costs, it’s not unusual for us to have a custom spec alignment that costs $350 depending what I needed.
Nice. I kinda figured that custom alignments would be impossible, but I guess not, since you could technically do that whole loosening the strut tower then prying it to spec thing. Thank you for answering my question!
You can also open up holes with a die grinder bit. The holes doesn’t hold the part, the clamp load from the bolt does. As @asemaster posted earlier, you pry on the part as you tighten it. Sometimes that is an actual service procedure.
I recently rounded up our Twin I beam alignment press and gave it away to another shop. I have absolutely no interest in dealing with such antique technology anymore.
Ok, so now that I’m reading up on some things, a lot of cars without any sort of real caster adjustment require new caster arm brackets. On the car that I’m reading up about (3rd gen Lexus IS), there are 3 different choices for the caster arm brackets. One adds .35 angle, the other one decreases .35 angle, and then the other one adds 0 angle. As far as camber is concerned on the 3rd gen IS, you have to replace the control arms if you want to get the camber back in to spec. The toe is fully adjustable for both the front AND rear.
Pretty typical of modern cars. Why is this of interest to you? Looking for a track day or autocross car?
Not really, just interested in how the suspension can be adjusted.