Alignment 101 - Now With Pictures | Page 2 | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations
  • Register Today It's free!

Alignment 101 - Now With Pictures

MountaineerGreen

Towing Moderator
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
February 2, 2006
Messages
7,482
Reaction score
47
City, State
North East Arkansas
Year, Model & Trim Level
2012 F150 4x4
Drew, maybe you can help me with this. I bought new tires and had the wheels aligned as a part of the purchase. I noticed recently that my steering wheel isnt straight when I am driving down roads. I understand that road crown will affect this, but my wheel has to be turned towards the outside, not the inside to make it go straight down the road. Id say the top of the wheel is about 2" from center when going straight. My question is, can I adjust my tie rod ends to fix this? If I removed both ends, twisted one in and one out the same number of turns, would that fix it? Or do I need to take it to a shop to have this corrected? Or am I being too picky?
 



Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!
.





ExplorerDMB

Moderator/Technician
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
January 26, 2004
Messages
6,129
Reaction score
18
City, State
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Acura TL
That is a typical complaint by a customer. That is usually when a customer will first think about getting an alignment. Now, removing the tie-rod ends will throw off your toe adjustments completely. I believe you can do it the old fashion way:

Park your truck on a level area and get your TIRES straight - not the steering wheel - as possible. When you have done this, measure from one point on the front tire to the other front tire (hopefully they adjusted your toe correctly). Be sure to use the same points again. Now - once you have your measurement write it down. Then get in the truck and get the steering wheel where you want it. Once you've done that, you'll need to lock the steering wheel somehow. Most shops have a holder that will hold the steering wheel so when you are making adjustments it doesn't move on you. You could get someone to hold it for you. Now once the wheel is straight, go underneath and measure again. See how far away your measurement is from your origional. Adjust your tie-rods so that you get your measurement back or atleast close to it.

That should do it. It's not a recommended way - but it's a way to do it. If you just got the shop to do it - take it back - more than likely they'll adjust the toe for free. It only takes 10 mins if that (that includes setting up the machine)

-Drew

EDIT: personally, I'd go back to the shop because new tires are the last things you want to wear prematurely! And like I said, it's easy to adjust toe! :thumbsup:
 






slravene

Explorer Addict
Joined
February 15, 2005
Messages
1,653
Reaction score
2
City, State
Charlotte, NC (Home) / Raleigh, NC (School)
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT
arent the bolts that hold in the upper control arms on the 2nd gens part of the adjustment process as well. I know that they have those funny little plate things on them that are there for adjusting camber (??? i think thats what i was told). Am i way off base here?
 






MountaineerGreen

Towing Moderator
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
February 2, 2006
Messages
7,482
Reaction score
47
City, State
North East Arkansas
Year, Model & Trim Level
2012 F150 4x4
Well, I would think they should help me out- they did the alignment less than a month ago. Your right, my new and expensive tires aren't something I want to mess up. I guess I'm too picky, but it drives me crazy when Im driving down the highway.
 






ExplorerDMB

Moderator/Technician
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
January 26, 2004
Messages
6,129
Reaction score
18
City, State
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Acura TL
Those bolts adjust both the caster and camber.

29000.gif


a LOT of SUVs and Trucks use these type of bolts. I'm sure the new 3rd gens and 4th gens do as well

-Drew
 






slravene

Explorer Addict
Joined
February 15, 2005
Messages
1,653
Reaction score
2
City, State
Charlotte, NC (Home) / Raleigh, NC (School)
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT
thats what I thought. So just by taking the truck in for an alignment...those bolts will be corrected if moved? (Im gonna be changing out my upper CAs in a bit here, and wanted to make sure i dont screw something up thats gonna cost me $$$$$ to get fixed)
 






ExplorerDMB

Moderator/Technician
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
January 26, 2004
Messages
6,129
Reaction score
18
City, State
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Acura TL
Yeah if you mess them up - you can take it to an alignment shop and they'll fix the issues. No problem at all. We recommend an alignment anytime you change suspension components like that (upper control arms, lower ball joints, etc.). You may be able to mark where they are now and then take them loose and put them right back to where they were and you'll be fine :thumbsup:

-Drew
 






slravene

Explorer Addict
Joined
February 15, 2005
Messages
1,653
Reaction score
2
City, State
Charlotte, NC (Home) / Raleigh, NC (School)
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT
ive got lifetime alignments...so ill just run it over there...no big deal
 






BrooklynBay

Moderator & long time member.
Staff member
Moderator
Elite Explorer
Joined
November 11, 2005
Messages
56,100
Reaction score
1,026
City, State
Brooklyn, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
88 89 93 95 96 Aerostars
I once replaced a rack, and pinion on a Taurus, and a Sable, and tried to keep the same alignment measurements on the tie rods. I marked the depth of the tie rods on the rack, and matched it up with the new rack, but didn't have any luck keeping the original alignment. I wasn't able to figure out why the parts didn't have the same alignment as the old ones. The tie rods were old, but the rack was new.
 






MountaineerGreen

Towing Moderator
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
February 2, 2006
Messages
7,482
Reaction score
47
City, State
North East Arkansas
Year, Model & Trim Level
2012 F150 4x4
BrooklynBay said:
I once replaced a rack, and pinion on a Taurus, and a Sable, and tried to keep the same alignment measurements on the tie rods. I marked the depth of the tie rods on the rack, and matched it up with the new rack, but didn't have any luck keeping the original alignment. I wasn't able to figure out why the parts didn't have the same alignment as the old ones. The tie rods were old, but the rack was new.

It seems like that would have worked, thats why I asked if I could move my steering wheel by doing that. After the discussion that ensued, it dosen't make much sense to try it with expensive tires on the line.
 






ExplorerDMB

Moderator/Technician
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
January 26, 2004
Messages
6,129
Reaction score
18
City, State
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Acura TL
I don't really know about racks, but tie rod ends are different from company to company. Half a thread off or two, makes a huge difference

-Drew
 






Runnin'OnEmpty

Explorer Addict
Joined
July 20, 2002
Messages
2,083
Reaction score
124
City, State
Southeast USA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 Sport
Excellent write-up Drew. More people should do their own alignments. The tools are cheap and simple, and with some practice anyone can do a fine job of aligning their Explorer. Your pictures give a good visualization of what's required.

I just installed a camber adjustment kit in my 2000 Sport over the weekend. It's very easy to do, and the only special tool needed is a 13/16" deep well socket.

The Moog kit I used consists of two eccentric washers, which replace the rectangular washers the factory uses, allowing the upper control arm to be adjusted in or out (for camber adjustment).

After installation, I set the camber using a small carpenter's level. This may sound crude, but it's surprisingly accurate, as long as you have a level garage floor.
 






ExplorerDMB

Moderator/Technician
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
January 26, 2004
Messages
6,129
Reaction score
18
City, State
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Acura TL
Explorer Adjustments...

Well guys, you all talked me into it. I didn't put it on a lift or put the alignment heads on - but I took pictures of what the components were for our vehicles and what you do to adjust them.

Camber and Caster

000_0784.jpg


Now, this is where it gets tricky. There are three adjustments on each side, the two points where the upper control arm mounts to the frame and then the toe adjustment on the tie rods. The adjustment pictured above will change your caster AND camber.

This is why it's so important to have it on an alignment rack, cause it'll give you live readings which as soon as you turn the eccentric a quarter of a turn it'll show the new measurements.

To make an adjustment to the above and below pictures, you must loosen the nut and then turn the BOLT! If you look above in this thread you'll see pictures of eccentrics - if you look hard enough you see that the bolts are flat on one side. This is so the little oval shapes will turn with the bolt. So when you turn the bolt it'll push against the frame bracket and move the ball joint in or out or up and back.

000_0785.jpg



Toe

000_0783.jpg


In the above picture, if you loosen that nut a few turns off the outter tie-rod link, you will be able to move the inner tie-rod (which is what the nut is threaded on). In the picture where the right arrow is, at the end of it you can see it pointing to some flat spots in the inner tie-rod (hard to see but their there). Usually you will have a tool or wrench that'll turn the rod. Depending on which way you turn will push your toe adjustments in or out. Once you are happy with your adjustments, tighten the nut and your done.


Other Adjustments:

Below is a picture I created, but it shows different adjustments (I believe f-150s have this type of set up):

000_0787.jpg


The white oval off the bolt head is another eccentric and the black bar is what the eccentric sits on so when you rotate it it'll push away or roll in. This adjustment would change your lower control arm position giving you a camber or caster change.




Tips:

If you are taking your vehicle to get aligned, load it up like you usually do. If you do construction and you load the crap out of your vehicle - take it that way. A good alignment tech will adjust your alignement specs so that you'll get optimum tire wear with the usual load of your vehicle.

Also, most alignment techs will adjust the alignment anyway you want. We get a lot of Shelby Cobra replicas in our shop that go to the track and the customer wants it a certain way. So we adjust it to their liking.


Hope this helps you all

-Drew
 






rizzjc

Scubajoe - Radio Mod
Staff member
Moderator
Elite Explorer
Joined
July 13, 2005
Messages
4,080
Reaction score
22
Location
NC
City, State
Garner, NC
Year, Model & Trim Level
2019 F150
Callsign
N1LVN
Awesome! Thanks!
 






shaker1

Well-Known Member
Joined
March 6, 2003
Messages
281
Reaction score
1
City, State
Algonquin, IL
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Explorer XLT 4X4 4.0
This is an awesome thread. After reading this I went looking for procedures to perform an alignment at home. I found this: http://bio.fsu.edu/~heath/mustang/alignment/

Since I just replaced my outer TREs and felt a slight drift to the right, I thought I'd check it out. When I put on the TREs, I was careful to count the number of threads to remove them and reinstalled the OEM parts precisely the same. Well it seems I was pretty far off. I had significant toe-out and my steering wheel was not straight.

After reading this thread and performing the above procedure it is dead on! Steering wheel is straight and the truck goes perfectly straight. Using an $8 angle finder, I verified both sides had negative camber of 1 degree. And using jackstands, fishing line and a precision ruler (marked in 32nds), I now have 1/8" total toe-in with a perfectly straight steering wheel. I did not check caster, although it is simple enough using the angle finder and the above link.

I also, tried setting toe using two pins (stuck in the front of the tires halfway up) and a couple of plumb bobs. Marking them in the front and rolling backwards 1/2 turn and marking again. Then measuring and subtracting the difference in the two measurements. While this verified I had a problem (front further apart from the back), I found it difficult to get a consistant adjustment and center the steering wheel.

Here are two more good alignment links:

http://www.carcraft.com/howto/24880/

http://www.familycar.com/alignment.htm
 












manaen

Explorer Addict
Joined
February 27, 2007
Messages
2,702
Reaction score
4
City, State
Clear Spring, MD
Year, Model & Trim Level
2011 Xterra Pro-4X
JC Whitney also sells an inexpensive toe in/out alignment tool which worked great when I setup my ranger with it's twin traction beam (TTB) setup after I put a 4" lift on. Once I installed a set of adjustable camber bushings I could set the truck up perfectly and had no problems since. I used a simple magnetic angle finder for caster and camber and THIS gauge from jcwhitney. It took a little trial and error since I needed to remove the wheel to set the caster (probably not neccisary with the newer TT trucks) and when you remove the wheel on a TTB you cannot put the jack at a location that simulates the truck sitting level, so I had to make the measurement with the wheels on the ground and figure out how many degrees to move it. Whitney has a few other tools as well you can see them HERE but I found with the toe gauge and the cheap angle finder it worked great. You can do it without the toe gauge but with a tape measure it is a 2 person job, and my wife was not interested in lying under my truck.
 






Hitchhikingmike

Explorer Addict
Joined
January 21, 2008
Messages
1,491
Reaction score
21
City, State
Dallas, Texas
Year, Model & Trim Level
'02 XLS
Good info. So is there a certain mile marker when we should all get an alignment done? I drive over curbs a lot and drive through a lot of bumpy roads and fields at a good speed. I have never had an alignment done at 50k miles.
 









Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!
.











Top