So I went to get my 1991 CRX aligned after doing some front end work. At high speeds (55+) I noticed it pulled noticeably to the left. However the garage told me that the front Caster angle on the left was -1.0 more than the right, which explained the pulling. However they told me that there is no way to adjust the caster angle on this car with a special shim kit or different control arms. I suspect this caster angle discrepancy is due to either a bent frame or bent strut.
My question is, besides possible tire wear oddities and accidentally swerving into oncoming traffic, is there any danger driving with something like this?
Anything that adversely affects your handling makes the car less safe.
There are lots of camber/caster adjustment kits on the market for this car. Mostly because this is such a common platform for kids to “slam” (to the ground) and to stick tires out the sides (use too-deep wheels). Have you tried Googling the internet?
Perhaps the best solution is to take it to a shop that specializes in chassis work for an assessment/adjustment. Ask them to assess any rot that might be a factor too. Let them know you’re willing to pay for a “kit” if it’s otherwise in good shape and a kit is necessary. .
Since this is not a strut car, something else is bent. The CRX had a double a-arm front suspension and should easily be able to be adjusted with a kit. TSM is right, go find a chassis shop, or even a Honda performance shop.
Caster angle affects the stability of the wheel, it does not cause it to pull. More caster keeps the wheel more stable in that it will want to go in a straight line. It also makes the steering effort harder so cars without power steering usually have the least amount of caster.
More caster also changes the camber of the wheel in a turn, so more camber, up to a point, increases the grip of the front tires in a turn.
If the car is pulling to one side, I’d suspect that the cambers are not matched or the steering wasn’t centered when the toe alignment was done.
Edit: you mentioned front end work, did that include new struts? If so, open the hood and look at the top of the strut towers, there should be three nuts. Are there three holes for the studs the nuts are attached to or 4 holes. The ones with four holes and three studs were used on cars that power steering was optional on, that gives about a 1 degree adjustment for caster, which hole is not used is determined by whether or not the car has power steering.
I also thought that caster couldn’t cause a car to pull, until I heard otherwise a few years ago. Read this:
Unequal caster causes the vehicle to pull to the side with the least positive caster.
[Truthfully, I don’t understand why.]
I would recommend trying to fix the problem which is likely a bent control arm, etc.
I would also say that accidentally swerving into traffic, especially in a high speed panic stop, is a good enough reason to repair it.
I also feel something is bent or worn out
But caster doesn’t wear tires
Does this car have a a separate front cradle?
I would assume it does, because it’s front wheel drive . . .
A skilled alignment guy might be able to bring everything within spec, by carefully loosening the cradle and slightly shifting it this way or that
But there is the risk on an older car, that the cradle bolts are seized, or maybe they won’t be able to properly torque them after loosening/removing them
Just an idea . . .
Good thoughts @db4690. Shifting the cradle, if it has one, would move the lower control arm back or forward changing the caster angle. I think the upper arm on this car is attached directly to the uni-body structure. The slop in the bolt holes side to side might allow the car to lose a little on one side and gain on the other to get them the same. The same may true of one or other of the control arms, too.
I can confirm that unequal cater does cause a pull. I can explain it mathematically but I’d need to show pictures with lines an arrows and equations. Its complicated and hard to visualize. But if you want, I’ll sketch it up and post it.
And that pull caused by unequal caster will wear the tires unevenly because the driver needs to apply opposite force.
I had a sudden pull to the left on an almost new 1994 Mitsubishi Galant that had a double control arm suspension and it was fixed by adjusting the engine cradle.
I forgot that this car has unequal length control arms in the front. We had a 93 Civic and as I recall, it had a trailing link to the lower control arm and it was adjustable, but I don’t remember the details on how it was done.