Car: 2007 Corolla CE with aftermarket wheels, 15X7 size, +42mm offset, 14.4 lbs. 195/60R15 tires (stock wheels were 15X6, +45mm, 185/65/15 tires.)
For the last year or two, my car has wandered to the right, I have to hold the steering wheel a bit to keep it straight, turning right requires slightly less effort than turning left. I have generally just put up with it, it was a minor inconvenience. I figured it was probably a tire defect and/or an alignment issue–the car has been pounded several times via pothole over the years. Well, out of boredom, I took a close look at the front tires and noticed that the inner edge of the tire was worn down significantly vs. the outer edge. This was particularly true with the passenger side front. The driver side front had this condition too but to a lesser extent, and the wear pattern seemed to be slightly different (tire wear is still more pronounced on the inner edge.) This left me wondering what the cause was—I thought it must negative camber wear (as I was familiar with the concept.) I did some more online research and came away thinking it was probably TOE. My research tells me that ‘toe-out’ tends to cause inner edge wear. Armed with this knowledge and my disregard for the tires (I plan to replace the tires soon and to have a real alignment via professionals,) I decided to tinker with toe by myself, without any measuring tools. I will adjust the tie-rods (having recently learned how to do so via online videos) then drive the car and see how it feels, then adjust again until I get it right. That’s the plan.
Adjusting toe was surprisingly easy. I didn’t even have to remove the wheels or have the car on jack stands. I only had to turn the steering wheel enough to clear enough space for me to access the inner tie-rod. Using my adjustable wrench, I spun the inner-tie rod clockwise and counter-clockwise until the car no longer wandered significantly to either side. What I learned is that I have to adjust toe in very smaller increments. I overdid it significantly the first time, and had to reverse.
I don’t know if I did this right. I don’t even know if my initial guess about the toe-out condition was correct but this has been a successful experimentation. The result was less wandering, and get this: the unexpected benefit of slightly easier steering with a very slightly disconnected feel to the steering. This is a positive result imho, I have always complained that the steering was unnecessarily heavy in this car, this 9th Generation Corolla (fyi: the 10th Generation made the steering TOO easy.) And, If I’m not mistaking, there seems to…appears to be… less tire rolling resistance. The car feels more willing to just go, it’s subtle I think, but it’s there. The car’s throttle response seems to have improved, again probably due to a lessening of a toe condition. Also, it feels like there’s less bump steer (but it’s still there.)
This has been fun and a learning experience. I will be monitoring the tire wear to see if it teaches me anything.
I already bought a new set of tires and they’re in the closet but I’m not ready to have them mounted just yet. I’m going to wear the current set till the steel belts show.
The only puzzle is that my experience seems to contradict the conventional wisdom that toe-out conditions tend to make steering easier. Here, I tried to fix what I thought was a toe-out condition by trying to make it more toe-in, and the unexpected result was easier steering.