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Thread: front end alignment jig

  1. #1
    Senior Member evlwht-guy's Avatar
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    front end alignment jig

    Real tired of paying to get front end alignments. I do have a lifetime policy from Firestone on my Toyota Camry, it was 190.00 and well worth it. but I always wanted to do it myself. I saw a few different tools for this and I decided to make my own. I had some angle and steel plates. You bolt the plates to the brake rotor by using the lugs. The hole and slot you see fits every vehicle I own. [The bigger slot was already on the plate. Note I also had to file a dip in the top to clear the flange in the center of the rotor] The angles are bolted on to the plates so you can level them up as the differential on a front wheel drive car wont let them line up. The hole in the plate is threaded and the bolt threaded in, that way I can put a nut on the back and adjust the tension of the connection between the plate and the angle iron. I put the car up on jack stands on all 4 wheels so it is level and hunkered down on the suspension...you have to be careful! I have little bits of metal welded to the end of each angle. I clamp the far ends of the tape measure to the angle on the far side and my initial measurement was for 1/2 inch of toe. I sent the car for alignment and the toe was a bit out, I will re measure and see what the measurement should be and then I think I will be good.


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    Looks nice, you may want to look into the string box method for aligning the toe. The basic idea is you set up a string line to be parallel to the length, of the vehicle, and you measure the toe off of this line. If you have a decent ruler with small graduations, toe measurements can be made quite accurately and quickly without taking off the wheels. The disadvantage is you have to reach in behind the wheel to adjust the tie rod ends which is not always easy.

  3. #3
    Senior Member evlwht-guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpowley66 View Post
    Looks nice, you may want to look into the string box method for aligning the toe.
    I looked into that but, you are correct in that it is difficult to get to the adjustments with the wheels on and the car sitting on the ground. If I had a grease pit or something like that where I could get under the ground and get to the adjustments that might make sense. But I don't. This jig is actually pretty quick and easy to set up. You just have to be careful to make sure that the jack stands under the ball joints are set in good so that you're not all the time worried the damn thing is going to tip off. I do leave the Jack underneath the front frame of the car when I do this. I have one of those roll around shop Jax a 3-ton model. I let it down just a little bit so I can bounce the car and settle it on the springs. Then I jack it up to where it just touches the frame so that I can feel safe and confident in it. It actually does not take very long to set this up. Using small clamps to connect the tape measures on the far side angle really made a big difference. Before that I was messing around with the ends of the tape measure falling off all the time.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Wolfcreek-Steve's Avatar
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    I've watched tow measurements being done many times and they are always done with the weight on the tires. Placing the weight anywhere else on the suspension will alter ride height and throw your measurements off. (Tow changes as the suspension moves from droop to bump)
    What is that squeaking noise?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfcreek-Steve View Post
    I've watched tow measurements being done many times and they are always done with the weight on the tires. Placing the weight anywhere else on the suspension will alter ride height and throw your measurements off. (Tow changes as the suspension moves from droop to bump)
    It looks like he's got the weight bearing on the lower ball joints, that's close enough provided the stands are set so the car is at or near its normal ride height.

    Here's a commercial product that does more or less the same thing but with the weight bearing on the tires.
    Longacre Toe Plates, it would be pretty easy to make something similar.


  6. #6
    Senior Member evlwht-guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocco View Post
    It looks like he's got the weight bearing on the lower ball joints, that's close enough provided the stands are set so the car is at or near its normal ride height.
    You are exactly correct. I place the jack stand right next to the ball joint, hence the long explination about how careful I have to be. In fact the last generation of front end alignment machines do this this exact way, except they have 2 air powered hydraulic jacks to support the lower suspension arm. So they could take the tires off put on their parts that clamped to the hub. The ones today are made so you dont have to take off the wheels. This reduces labor for tbe technician and time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Wolfcreek-Steve's Avatar
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    I just use 2 4' straight edges laid against the outside of the tires just above the bulge then measure across front and rear. (Can be zip tied on temporarily) No removing tires, no jack stands, no screwing around, works for me!
    What is that squeaking noise?

  8. #8
    Senior Member evlwht-guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfcreek-Steve View Post
    I just use 2 4' straight edges laid against the outside of the tires just above the bulge then measure across front and rear. (Can be zip tied on temporarily) No removing tires, no jack stands, no screwing around, works for me!
    I bet it does work. I am pretty convinced that alignment is nowhere close to being as complicated as the auto maintenance olegarchy wants to make out that it is. Shure as shooting...nothing else in car maintenance is as complicated or dangerous as they make out.

    I did think about your process but decided that it would be too difficult to get to the tie rod ends on a Camry with the wheels on and the car sitting on them .

    It was also a fun project.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by evlwht-guy View Post
    I am pretty convinced that alignment is nowhere close to being as complicated as the auto maintenance olegarchy wants to make out that it is. Shure as shooting..
    ABSOLUTELY! Spend a day or two helping to set up a race car and that fact becomes VERY obvious, it's definitely not rocket science and what's more modern passenger cars are simpler yet as they have fewer available adjustment points, usually just camber and toe.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Wolfcreek-Steve's Avatar
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    This helps! Although Triumphs are easy, as once you open the hood, all suspension is accessible from the topside. I'm surprised that alignments are a big expense for you. Other than when I totally rebuilt the suspension on my wife's Triumph, I can't remember the last time I had a daily driver in for an alignment. Roads that bad in NC?
    IMG_2863.jpg
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    What is that squeaking noise?

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