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Trouble with my self-alignment job

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Old 01-04-2019, 06:32 PM
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Default Trouble with my self-alignment job

I'll be getting an alignment when I find a sale on tires, till then I've been working on it myself, with string and trial and error. Lots of error.
Here is where I am now: when the steering wheel and right wheel is straight and the left wheel is toe out, the car pulls to the left. I got under there and tightened up the left wheel a half turn but the car still pulls left. I wonder if I have been tightening the wrong wheel . My visualization skills are sub-par, to be sure.. I need some theory here. What is causing the pull?
thx
 
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:57 PM
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Have you actually measured the toe out? It's hard to eyeball this stuff.
 
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cleburne red View Post
Have you actually measured the toe out? It's hard to eyeball this stuff.
Y. But using string, left wheel is 1/2" toe out compared to right. Although I guess you could also say that the right was 1/2" toe out compared to left....
 
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:13 PM
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So, you're measuring from the center of the rear of the front tires, compared to the measurement from the center of the front of the front tires?

I wouldn't worry about the wheel being straight, as long as this is only a temporary alignment. Make sure the vehicle is going straight

Then adjust the tie rods to where the toe in is correct. The steering wheel might not be right, but in theory the truck will drive straight.
​​​​​​
How are you measuring castor and camber?

​​​​
 
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Old 01-04-2019, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cleburne red View Post
So, you're measuring from the center of the rear of the front tires, compared to the measurement from the center of the front of the front tires?

I wouldn't worry about the wheel being straight, as long as this is only a temporary alignment. Make sure the vehicle is going straight
Then adjust the tie rods to where the toe in is correct. The steering wheel might not be right, but in theory the truck will drive straight.
​​How are you measuring castor and camber?
​​​​
Correct, 1/2" from the rear of the tire to the front of the tire.
You say, make sure the vehicle is going straight. How? Let's say I have my wheels where they are not parallel, like this: \ | , here, is the car going to pull to the left or to the right?
 
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:34 AM
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Hmm - well, o.k.

Alignment is a job which can be done by oneself, but you have to consider a couple of things.

Alignment is a really, really precise job. We are talking arc-minutes for a correct adjustment. This will result in some 0.1 inches maybe, sometimes less, depending on the manufacturers figures.

In itself it's not "sooo" difficult but you need to know how it works. Without an alignment bench you are down to the laser or string method.

We have a write up in this thread that you may find useful, including an explanation on how a string adjustment is done.

https://blazerforum.com/forum/steeri...day-1-a-95491/
 
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Old 01-05-2019, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by puttster View Post
Correct, 1/2" from the rear of the tire to the front of the tire.
You say, make sure the vehicle is going straight. How? Let's say I have my wheels where they are not parallel, like this: \ | , here, is the car going to pull to the left or to the right?
Toe out won't cause it to pull. As you're going down the road, the toe will even out from side to side (you would have 1/4" on each side, instead of 1/2" on the left). The tires will wear quickly and the steering wheel will probably be crooked, but it won't pull. Camber, on the other hand, can definitely cause a pull. Imagine a tire rolling by itself. What happens if it leans to one side? It turns.
 
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Old 01-06-2019, 07:50 AM
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What Tom A says is correct. I have to add, that this is true if you let the steering wheel center itself. When keeping the steering wheel centered (the way one normally drives) it can pull to one side, because the alignment can be off to one side.

That is one of the reasons why alignment is not for the uninformed. You are dealing with three independent elements which need to be placed in correct angles to each other in order to work properly.

From my experience it is not very important where you start as long as you have understood how the system works.

Always! And always make sure that the steering linkage is free of any play! On the short levers of the steering this will translate to quite some discrepancy on the wheel. One of the reasons why on many alignment jobs you have the feeling, that you never get it right.

Hop into the car and do a full turn of the wheel, have a look at the wheels. Look for how much they turn, how that looks, do this in increments up to the stops on both sides. This is just to get a general idea on how much you are turning the wheels.

The second of the preliminary steps is to loosen the bolts on the adjuster sleeves, measure center to center on the ball-joints of the outer steering linkage. Turn the whole assembly all apart, clean the fine threads of rust, clean the adjuster sleeve, apply grease generously on all threaded parts and put it together: Then adjust it until the previously taken measurement. You should be able to turn the sleeves by hand or with short pipe pliers with little force now that all is nicely cleaned and greased

When doing the alignment on my Blazer:
I do start, with making sure that my steering wheel is centered correctly. Careful there, I have seen jobs done with the wheel upside down 180 degree off! I have seen guys do an adjustment, then pull the wheel to center it on the splined shaft (some cars allow for that). To avoid this, you may:
Turn it full turns to one side and to the other to make sure how many turns there are in total. Determine how many are 1/2 of it and go to the stop on one side, turn it back by the calculated turns and check if the wheels are straight (more or less but not more than 1" off). You can see if it is off by a full turn of the steering wheel. Then turn it to the opposite side the calculated number of turns and make sure it hits the stop where you expect it.

Turn it back to the center - you have the first of our three elements in a known-good position now.

The wheels should be straight, at least for the eye or not be off by much. Now you can use any method you like to determine the actual adjustment, based on the steering wheel being in the middle.

I start out with one side and put it to zero. Then the other side. This is the first time we have all three elements in a known-good position.
Now it comes down to either find the correct values in inches or mm toe-in/out or do some calculus when being given angles. Careful we are talking very, very small angles. Hardly ever you will see more than HALF A DEGREE !
That means that angles are indicated in decimals of a degree or arc minutes, even arc seconds. Sometimes using 0.1' for minutes or 6.00" for seconds. Normally you will be given a range of settings which is acceptable.
Make sure to understand for what set of wheels the alignment is given. Normally for the 15" or 16" wheels of the OEM setup. Normal cars are not measured on the tires but on the rims horns. Only there do we have a defined point. Unevenly mounted tires, markings on them, etc. can put your adjustment off, if done on the tires.

Oh! And BTW alignments are always done with the vehicle on the ground with the full normal weight. Do not lift it or jack up, neither the front, nor the rear. And the surface has to be level. Level like in if you drop a bag of marbles to that surface the will fall and take up a random pattern without rolling somewhere. Industrial buildings, parking lots your garage floor may offer such a level surface. a little incline may go unnoticed but make sure you place the vehicle in such a way that the incline runs front to back of the car or back to front, but never left/right.

Our Blazers normally have very little, to no toe-in, and the camber is nearly 0.
That's to alleviate the loads in off-road use and have the wheels behave nearly neutrally even when going over bumps.

The downside is, that it is not stabilizing itself on paved surfaces. It will always tend to pull downhill (incline of the road surface left/right) and will always need attention when driving.

I'm about to start trying to adjust my toe-in to get a more stable ride, but I have rust on my body and it's "NO NO DRIVING" with the snow and salt on the roads. So it will be next spring to start experimenting. On our Blazers a slight toe-in should over all stabilize the driving.

Have I forgotten something or does anybody else have some nice tricks?
 
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:14 AM
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Tom, that was an interesting bit, that toe won't cause a pull. And a good explanation, too. My driver's side wheel in leaning in a little, would that be the .cause?
 
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Old 01-07-2019, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by puttster View Post
Tom, that was an interesting bit, that toe won't cause a pull. And a good explanation, too. My driver's side wheel in leaning in a little, would that be the .cause?
Thanks.

If the tire is leaning in at the top, that should cause a pull to the right (assuming the passenger side is straight).
 
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