how to do a wheel alignment with a tape measure

When I have told shop technicians I want 3.5 degrees of negative camber, they often have argued with me that my settings are incorrect per their manual. I explain to them that I’m not trying to get 50,000 miles out of a set of tires. Find measuring points on each front wheel. I'm posting this just in case someone wants to do an alignment. Yes, they used Smart Strings to align their Porsche racecars. Well, Watkins worked as chief engineer for Johannes van Overbeek and Flying Lizard Motorsports, who raced at places like Le Mans and won the 24 Hours of Daytona. This can be done by locking the steering wheel into place with a special tool, or by having children. As a racecar driver, I have learned to hate alignment shops. If you are unfamiliar with what the thrust angle is or you think toe is something you have on your foot, visit The first thing to remember is order of operations: First, set your ride height, adjust your caster, your camber, and then your toe.

We also use small fishing weights at the end of our strings to keep the strings tight for accurate measurements. Next, move to the rear of the tire, and measure to the same spot at the rear of the tire, let’s say we get 65 5/16 inches. You need a straight metal pick or a toothpick, etc. The tools are inexpensive, easy to understand, and can be used in your garage, carport or racetrack paddock.

Most people think that if you want to get your vehicle’s alignment checked you need to take it to the pros. So here is a step-by-step process on how to check your alignment at home.If you need help with aligning your car – give us a call at Callahan Automotive today.

Adding/subtracting the different camber measurements from each other will determine positive or negative caster as well as the total amount of caster. If this is confusing, go to We have played around with both tools inside garages and at the track and found them both super easy to use. 4. While making alignment changes, especially for toe, it is important to have your steering wheel straight.

You stand on the other side of the car, pull the tape measure so that there's no slack and measure to the other pin. To measure camber, hold the Smart Camber gauge against the wheel and read the digital display, which is in degrees.

Other machines don’t provide data at all. So I have decided to fire all of them.I have replaced them with an alignment system called Craig Watkins’s Smart Strings and Smart Camber. Yup, father of the year.To measure camber, hold the Smart Camber gauge against the wheel and read the digital display, which is in degrees. I make my kids sit in the driver seat for hours holding the wheel straight while sitting on weights to replicate my body mass in the driver’s seat. Write down the new camber measurement. You can determine the 20 degrees of turning using a template provided with the tool to put lines on the ground.

Make sure that the tape is level and the same distance above the ground as it was for the front reading.

3. Why should we use the Smart String system?

First measure the height of the center of your wheels. Then adjust the height of your string bars to the same height. Another good sign that your vehicle’s alignment is off is irregular tire wear, vibration and odd handling characteristics are other clues.Taking a few minutes to check your alignment will make your tires last longer and your vehicle handle better. They just have red and green lights to get the car back to manufacturer-recommended alignment specs, which differ greatly from racing specs. Adjust your camber until you get the number you are looking for. Place the end of a tape measure in the tread just to the outside of the string at the front of the tire and stretch it to the opposite tire and read the distance, let’s say it measures 65 3/16 inches.

Measure again on the back sides of the tires. We wanted to give you the knowledgeable tools to check your alignment yourself but if you need help adjusting – set up an appointment with one of our trained and certified technicians today! In the case of our Honda Challenge car it was 11.5 inches. Easy stuff. Measure from line to line with the tape level with the floor.

Self wheel alignment? However, when the vehicle starts pulling to one side – or after a hard impact with a curb – most drivers suspect that the wheels might be out of alignment. This allows you to make accurate adjustments on an imperfect surface.

Turn the steering wheel back to center and then turn the front wheels 20 degrees right and measure your camber again. I’m convinced.The basic premise is to use strings to create a perfect box around your car and to take measurements from that box. General Jeep Chat ... Have been readin how to do it with a couple of tape measures, and some rods bungee tied to the wheels....seems relatively straight forward ... measure on the same plane front to rear as close to height of axle centre line … The box created by Smart Strings gives you a plane to measure the front and rear wheels against at the same time, ensuring your car will track correctly. you don't need to pay $80 for an alignment any more, this way is pretty accurate. The change in camber from the three positions indicates the imaginary line the front spindles are pivoting on.

There are, however, few cars on which you can stretch a string or wire straight between these points because the axle is in the way. The best part about the tools is that I never have to go back to an alignment shop again.Great stuff Rob, it’s no wonder you guys are so dominant! You need a measuring tape, preferably 2 identical measuring tapes.

Roll the car forward (not back, you'll roll over the pins!) What’s cool about the Smart String system is that this “box” hangs from your car at the correct height —the center of your car’s axles — and you can push the car around to settle the suspension without messing up the string box for repeatable measurements.Additionally, a key difference between using the Smart Strings system versus toe plates is thrust angle adjustment. The car handbook usually gives the toe setting as measured between the inner wheel rims at their front and rear edges at the level of the hub. Have a friend hold one end of a tape measure against the tire starting at one pin. Compare the two measurements to reveal the toe, accounting for measurements taken lower than at the tires’ center for actual toe. Write down that measurement.

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