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Wheel Alignment and Camber Adjustment

When I get a four wheel alignment, I’ve noticed that shops will usually set the Toe close to the midpoint of the spec range. But for camber, where adjustable, they don’t seem to make an effort to set it to the midpoint of the spec range as long as it is within the factory spec range, even if it is at the extreme end of the range. This has been my experience at two different shops where I’ve gotten a four wheel alignment performed. Should I request that they set the camber to the midpoint? My thinking is that I will get better (more even) tire wear if the camber is at the midpoint rather than at the extreme end of the range. I’ve read elsewhere that auto manufacturers may specify camber with a (too) wide range to account for poor manufacturing.

Properly done, the camber should be adjusted until it’s in the mid-range. If no abnormal tire wear is present then it doesn’t make that much difference but that’s no excuse for skipping a step.

Odds are the reason they’re doing this is for the sake of speed. A camber change adds one and likely two steps to the process. Changing the camber is one step and a camber change alters the toe setting which is the second one.

They’re simply calling it good since checking and even adjusting the toe is a very quick process. Hurry up and get it off the rack because it’s in specs would be the mindset.

Next time ask that the camber be set in mid-range and verify it by the printout.

On many vehicles, there is no adjustment for camber other than bending the supporting structure or installing special offset bolts to shift the position of a control arm…

My experience says that the published alignment tolerances are too wide. Not the target value, but the allowable deviation from that value. I think it ought to be half of what is published.

Put another way, the alignment should be within the inner half of the spec.

You should be aware that even vehicles that do not have a pull can be out of alignment. There are settings where one out of spec condition is offset by another out of spec condition ? typically camber vs toe.

Also, many alignment techs think that if the factory did not make provisions to make adjustments for the alignment, then they can?t make an adjustment and will declare the vehicle ?OK?. This is totally wrong.

ALL alignment settings are adjustable, but it may require an eccentric bolt, some shims, or slotting a hole. A GOOD alignment tech will know what to do and the vehicle should leave a shop with ALL the alignment settings close to the nominal.

What you need to do is find an alignment tech who agrees with the above and patronize him.

I agree that on some cars camber, and caster, are built in and not adjustable. However, a little can often by gotten by loosening strut mount bolts, control arm bolts, etc, and taking advantage of the small amount of slop in the bolt holes. In extreme cases a camber kit may be required.

A spec that is on the limit of either end of the range can also point to a problem such as wear in a ball joint or something that is bent. Too much negative camber could point to a ball joint wear issue and too much positive camber could point to a bent control arm. Nothing is etched in stone; that’s only generally speaking.

The alignment shop should explain this to you rather than leave you in the dark.

Thanks for all your good points! You confirmed my initial thoughts. Going forward, I will request that the camber be set to the midpoint of the range, where adjustable.

I read forum posts about uneven tire wear by puzzled car owners all the time. I’ll bet a fair portion of it can be attributed to alignments where the setting is within spec range (color green on the report) but at the extreme edge of the range.