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Had to watch alignment tech

nitro71

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I swear.. mechanics in this town suck ass. So I'm kinda checking on this guy who's aligning my X. Had to explain to him that you could turn the camber adjusters. He understood but had been thinking of ranger style or something.. The last guy who aligned it didn't do squat. I don't think anything had been adjusted. Luckily I've got a lifetime alignment with firestone so when they screw it up I can bring it right back for free. So.. I go check on this guy and I catch him starting to hit my camber adjuster with a chisel to turn it. I explained to him how you could put a socket on top and turn it and I wanted it done like that. So after I got him trained he actually was able to get it dialed in. Still wanders on the hwy at 75mph though. I just go for it but want it tighter. Wonder if it's toeing out to much at hwy speed?
 



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That's why I stopped getting alignments done at shops...I found them banging on parts I put a ton of money and work into with a hammer and chisel! I've had better luck getting the TTB front end dialed in with a tape measure and just making incremental adjustments over time.

Trick is to get a little bit of toe in if you want it to track straight, about 1/8 of an inch.

Drifting to the right/left can be caused by the road. A vehicle that is aligned correctly (to track straight ahead on a flat, level road) will drift to the right on a highway or two lane due to the angle of the pavement, designed to let water run off to the side. Same thing makes it drift to the left when you're in the left lane.

If it's actually wandering and drifts right in the left lane and left in the right lane or something, the alignment might not be right, or you could have other issues. Make sure the tie rods are all tight and check your ball joints/wheel bearings/etc. Anything that shifts the wheel positions causes the alignment to be out of whack when the loose parts shift.
 






jd4242

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That's why I stopped getting alignments done at shops...I found them banging on parts I put a ton of money and work into with a hammer and chisel! I've had better luck getting the TTB front end dialed in with a tape measure and just making incremental adjustments over time.

Trick is to get a little bit of toe in if you want it to track straight, about 1/8 of an inch.

Drifting to the right/left can be caused by the road. A vehicle that is aligned correctly (to track straight ahead on a flat, level road) will drift to the right on a highway or two lane due to the angle of the pavement, designed to let water run off to the side. Same thing makes it drift to the left when you're in the left lane.

If it's actually wandering and drifts right in the left lane and left in the right lane or something, the alignment might not be right, or you could have other issues. Make sure the tie rods are all tight and check your ball joints/wheel bearings/etc. Anything that shifts the wheel positions causes the alignment to be out of whack when the loose parts shift.

where do you take your measurements from?
 






JoeCool6972

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try going to a FORD dealer where they actually know how to work on a FORD.
 






jd4242

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nitro71

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Turning in the adjustment screw on top of the steering gear a half turn fixed my road wandering issues. Now i just have the weeping steering arm to deal with. I can live with that though. I think new shocks and putting the rear sway bar back on along with putting a front stabilizer on will turn it into a ferrari!
 






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where do you take your measurements from?

I just use a tape measure and use the water channels on either tire as the measuring point. It's somewhat more accurate if you mark a spot on the front tires, measure the distance in front, then roll it forward, and measure the distance between the same marks, the difference between front/back being the toe in or out. Caster/camber is easy enough just slapping a small bubble level on the outside of the wheel, though it can also be done with the wheel & tire off using a bubble level or better yet a bubble angle level against the spindle.

I'm sure I could do even better with a Hunter alignment rack (especially those with lasers and everything), but tweaking a little bit here and there over a period of time, I've got it tweaked where it tracks straight (slight toe in), the tires wear evenly (negative camber to compensate for hard cornering wear), and it handles awesome. Never been on an alignment rack or had any techs banging on anything, either.

I just don't think it's worth it to PAY someone to do alignments on a TTB front end unless they KNOW exactly what they're doing. Too many alignment techs are used to just loosening bolts and turning an alignment adjuster, or throwing in crash bolts. Failing that, they bang on whatever the mechanism is with a hammer and chisel and hope it moves it into spec.


I think new shocks and putting the rear sway bar back on along with putting a front stabilizer on will turn it into a ferrari!

Were that true, a lot of us would be driving Ferraris about now...

Lowering, thick sway bars, monotube shocks, and WIDE tires are about as close as it gets an Explorer to being a sports car.
 






nitro71

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Lowering? LOL! NEVER! What is different for aligning a TTB front end? It seems to be very basic to tell the truth?
 






Mbrooks420

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try going to a FORD dealer where they actually know how to work on a FORD.
HAHAHA Ford dealers, ( and dealers in general) are just part changers. Reputable independent shops are the only places that touch my truck when I can't do something. The only time Ford would ever touch my truck was for a recall.
 






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Lowering? LOL! NEVER! What is different for aligning a TTB front end? It seems to be very basic to tell the truth?

It is very basic, if you know about the alignment bushings and how positioning them affects the caster and camber.

Most vehicles just have a built-in camber adjuster on the suspension already, so the TTB setup of using different bushings isn't very well understood.
 






TedJ

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The tire shop morons couldn't get mine right... with the double cam adjusters that can go to any setting you want. The guy insisted that they were all the way and it needed more, while refusing the instructions that come with the bushings.

I let them try twice, then called up their corporate and bitched. The guy at the shop was none too happy with me cause I called corporate on them to get my $ back. I went to another (independent) shop, he charged me 2x the price but did it right, spent about an hour doing it.

The tire shops are used to FWD cars that are dumb easy to align, and they often just "set the toe and let it go".
 






awood

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I've never tried to align anything on my own, but reading this thread reminded me of something an old mechanic told me back in high school (28 years ago). When setting the toe adjustment on a personal project car (outside the shop), he would put the front tires on two plates of sheet metal with grease between the plates. This simulated the plates on the alignment rack we used in our shop. The purpose of this was to eliminate any preload on the steering linkage and suspension, if there was any in the first place. Theoretically, this should prevent the need to "dial in" the adjustments over time.

I've never tried this...what do you think?
 






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Good in theory, and a fantastic idea for a ultra-cheap (and compact) makeshift version of an alignment rack...or at least something to make it slighty easier to make adjustments with the tires on the ground. But it may work better on vehicles with more precise alignment adjustments or where it's easier to see the changes with the vehicle down on the suspension.

Personally I like the method of making the adjustments over time, the same as with a track vehicle, you see how it does, make adjustments, try it again, adjust, until you get it dialed in.

There's only so much you can do, even on the BEST alignment rack with the latest tech. Sure, you can get the alignment "in spec", which is probably fine for most people...but probably not what someone who wants any kind of performance is looking for.

Heck, most alignment shops don't even know enough to do the alignment with the driver IN the vehicle...or about suggesting for customers to bring the vehicle in with it's normal load, with around a half tank of gas, not just filled up or nearing empty. A lot of people pay for an alignment, but don't really get it..or mess it up themselves.
 






TedJ

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I've done the same thing, but with 1x1 composite floor tiles (like the ones in schools and office buildings) instead of sheetmetal plates. The tiles are under $1 a piece and have a rough side and a shiny side. I put wheel bearing grease all over both shiny sides and stuck them together. It works great, you can shift the whole car just by leaning on it.

I don't know how possible getting a real alignment setup with this method is, unless your floor is perfectly level, but I use it to set the toe and approximate the other settings after working on the suspension. It's good enough to get me to the alignment shop no problem. The biggest issue I've had is trying to get the wheel to be straight. The axles tend not to be exactly the same width so it's hard to get it right by eying it with a string line.
 






Mettler

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The two plates idea is valid. I have done this with my Ranger. I had a laser level for hanging pictures and lined up the laser line on the tire center tread at 9 and 3 o'clock to the ground. (front and back of tire) and mark a piece of tape on the ground with every adjustment. It works great.
 






awood

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Okay... thanks for the replies. I might actually try this on my current vehicle, just to see what it's like. I like the laser idea, too!
 






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