Alignment Setting Toe

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Mar 5, 2014
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outside Atlanta
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Great write up. Just did my alignment last week, thanks for the help. For those of you that do their work alone, this helped me... Six foot 1.5 in alum angle extrusion(bought from lowes). I was able to get exact measurement by myself without trying to hold a tape. The angle also can be used to go thru the windows and hold the steering wheel in straight position while adjusting the steering rod. Also use a laser on the (simple pen laser) front disc pointing to the rear disc to get exact straight readings. Again great post Ty
 
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Apr 4, 2013
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The “best/easiest” way to set toe is by angle/degrees, if you have the equipment. With some care, setting it with measuring tape can be done just as accurately, as long as changes, like tire size, etc are taken into account.

There is a ton of ways to do it and most are very successful, this is the one that I prefer. The stock spec is for stock tires, so ~30” OD, measured half way up the tire, so about 15” from the hub. There are a couple of problems with this: First, my tires are 37”, so would have to do the math to come up with the correct number. Second, there is often “stuff” (arms, etc) in the way, making measuring at tire centerline difficult. I use two, 30”+ long, straight, pieces of scrap material, in this case angle iron, but anything similar will work. Mark the center, the ~15” on each side of center, the same on both pieces.

Put the rig on stands, remove the front tires and clamp the bars to the rotors, with the center marks under/centered with the hub. Confirm that the steering is centered; I sight down the length of the bars and look for them to lineup at the same spot on each rear tire. Adjust so they are somewhat level and even with each other. Measure the distance between the bars at the front marks (front side of the axle), repeat at the rear marks (behind the axle). The difference between the measurements is your toe; we are looking for toe-in so the front measurement should be shorter by the amount of toe desired.

If it needs adjustment, loosen the clamps on the tie rod and turn it until the measurement is where you want it. If you have a rust bucket, this may involve lube, heat, hammering, swearing, etc.:hillbilly:
I just did this very thing on Saturday after installing chromoly axles and birds and sleeved tie rod and drag links, I used 2 rafter squares and welding vice grips and a tape measure. Last time I did it, I took it in for an alignment and the guy at the alignment shop was impressed at how accurate this method was.
 
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Aug 19, 2013
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Breck, CO
slightly off topic but I was going to try and set my toe tonight on my truck and I just cannot get the tierod to rotate. Ive been soaking the clamps and threads for the past week in PB, the clamps came free finally and i slid them out of the way and proceeded to heat the tierod till it was red hot, hammering on it, cranking vise grips and channel locks with no luck. The truck spent most of its life on the east coast so its pretty rusty. Any other tricks, tips, or tools that might help me? Im almost tempted to just buy a new tierod and TREs, id just rather not spend the money if i dont have to.
 

Kief

 
 
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Now that you have tried everything get some more penetrant on there and let it soak for a 1/2 hour or so, wipe it off then squirt with some Castrol Super clean, maybe just a little bit of water in it. Tap lightly with a hammer, keep doing it until you see rust coming out then stop tapping and try to move it- It might not work but I think it attacks the rust.. I've gotten it to free up some stuff that would budge with all of the aforementioned.. Don't get it in your eyes or breath the mist it is a caustic degreaser I believe.
 

1973Guppie

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so, a question as I am a novice in this area. If I were to take my car into get aligned at a local shop, is the only thing they would do is set "toe in"? On our trucks, is setting toe in considered a full alignment?
 

inkpot

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Now that you have tried everything get some more penetrant on there and let it soak for a 1/2 hour or so, wipe it off then squirt with some Castrol Super clean, maybe just a little bit of water in it. Tap lightly with a hammer, keep doing it until you see rust coming out then stop tapping and try to move it- It might not work but I think it attacks the rust.. I've gotten it to free up some stuff that would budge with all of the aforementioned.. Don't get it in your eyes or breath the mist it is a caustic degreaser I believe.
In 4 years the tie rod is the only thing I have found so far on my rig that was REALLY hard to free up. Don't be afraid to get mad at it with a hammer. I had to really beat mi tie rod HARD, along with soaking it with lots of penetrating fluid. Best method I have found so far is 2 of the 4 pound drill hammers striking together from opposite sides. Works like having the tie rod laying on an anvil. John
 

inkpot

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so, a question as I am a novice in this area. If I were to take my car into get aligned at a local shop, is the only thing they would do is set "toe in"? On our trucks, is setting toe in considered a full alignment?
Yup. A good alignment shop will give you a list of all before and after readings for caster, camber, toe, and front to rear axle line up. BUT, the only thing they will adjust is the toe. Things like caster correction brackets or bushings, or even spring shims on a leaf sprung rig, are usually only available thru a good 4x4 shop or maybe a frame and axle repair shop, if you can find one. John
 
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so, a question as I am a novice in this area. If I were to take my car into get aligned at a local shop, is the only thing they would do is set "toe in"? On our trucks, is setting toe in considered a full alignment?
Toe is the only thing that is that is adjustable in a "routine/typical alinement" job, the other settings can be changed by changing bushings, plates, etc, not really an "adjustment". Most add caster correction with a lift, as long as it drives well, good to go. Knowing the caster number is nice trivia, or can be handy if you are looking for a problem, but it should never significantly change, so checking it once is good enough, checking it every time is redundant.

Toe can get knocked out from wheeling and is a good way to "tune" how the rig handles at higher speed. Depending on setup, springs, shocks, tires, driver preference, etc, some rigs like a little more, some a little less toe, so playing with it can net handling benefit. The shop alignment procedure should be; inspect all suspension/steering components, take/record all measurements, set toe, adjust the turn stops so they contact on each side at the same time and adjust the drag link to center the steering wheel. From what we see, the turn stop part is rarely done and done correctly does add significant strength, takes load off of the tie rod and ends.
 
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Tools, great thread. I was wondering, i set the tie rod to the FSM spec, I got new tre's for the front. Do I just set the relay rod to FSM speck and go from there to center the steering wheel and stops?

thanks!
 

cartercd

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With the tape measure method, setting the proper toe is dependent on how far in-front / behind the hub you measure. I dug deep back to high school trigonometry and offer the formula below for those that want to calculate this based on your setup.

toe -in.JPG
 
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Great thread for those folks setting toe themselves and the process of "how" to do it.

Any information on what the toe should be with a rig on 35's? For what it's worth, the rig has OME heavies/mediums fr/rr.

Thanks,
 
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I followed this and then put on 315 general grabbers and 20K miles later they're wearing so even you can't even tell it with a gauge. Paying for an alignment seems senseless to me and I'm glad I didn't!
 
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One addition to using some bits of aluminium angle clamped to the rotor is that it could be extended by turning each rotor about 90 deg and re-doing the measurements as a way to discern if theres any excessive run-out. I don't know how the laser alignment equipment at tyre shops works.

I don't think the amount of toe-in varies depending on size of tyre but with bigger tyres it's supposedly a lot more sensitve to incorrect setting because of tram-lining etc.
 
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One addition to using some bits of aluminium angle clamped to the rotor is that it could be extended by turning each rotor about 90 deg and re-doing the measurements as a way to discern if theres any excessive run-out.
Are you suggesting to turn the rotors 90° with angle clamped on and measure top and bottom?
 

Overland Tailor

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Are you suggesting to turn the rotors 90° with angle clamped on and measure top and bottom?
I use aluminum angle that is long enough to extent a few feet to the front and a few feet to the rear. Mark a line at the same measurement points on the front and rear sections on both pieces and clamp them down.

Take front measurements at the front marks and then take rear measurements at the rear marks.. Do the math and you'll see what toe in you have or don't have.. Adjust and repeat the process.

I use a level on each piece of aluminum angle as well to try to remove that from the equation.

Good luck

J
 
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Levels are cheap and a smart addition - I don't know if there's an 'optimal' length for the pieces of metal but my guess would be that providing they are accurately measured, cut and marked so that they're the same length, and accurately marked with a mid point lined up with the centre of the Aisin hub (p/t 4wd) or driveplate (f/t 4wd) on each side with steering pointing as close to straight forward as practically achievable, it'll give some results that are good enough for empircal setup.
 

IanB

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Great write up, not sure how this is my 1st time seeing this, MUD has all sorts of hidden secrets!
 
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