Technical aspects of automobiles

Advanced wheel alignment advice

I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
in what to do.

The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable. Also , I think my
car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
adjustable.

At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less? Is it possible that
I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
different amounts of toe to compensate for the caster problem?

.
posted by admin in Без рубрики and have Comments (11)

11 Responses to “Advanced wheel alignment advice”

  1. admin says:

    Did you rule out the possibility of a bent wheel and/or warped rotor?

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    Old Wolf wrote:
    > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
    > of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
    > in what to do.

    > The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
    > line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
    > By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
    > it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

    > At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
    > car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
    > emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

    > I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
    > degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable. Also , I think my
    > car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
    > caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
    > adjustable.

    > At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
    > I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

    > Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
    > wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
    > optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less? Is it possible that
    > I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
    > different amounts of toe to compensate for the caster problem?

  2. admin says:

    Old Wolf wrote:
    > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    <snip>

    Your symptoms could describe tires that are incorrectly mounted.

    Have the shop put the car on a hoist, raise it a couple of feet, then
    spin the tires. Do they wobble and waggle? Then there’s your problem.

    When you accelerate at very low speed, is there also a wobble in the
    steering wheel?

  3. admin says:

    On 28 Feb 2006 18:19:43 -0800, "Old Wolf" <oldw…@inspire.net.nz>
    wrote:

    >I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    >getting speed wobbles.

    That does not follow.  You should have taken it in for tire inspection
    and balance.

    > After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.
    >Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
    >of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
    >in what to do.

    If they didn’t understand the basics that high speed wobble is a
    balance problem they are a lost cause.  Take it somewhere else.
    Why take your car somewhere where you have to attempt to teach them
    how to service your car based on internet-derived advice?

    >The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
    >line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
    >By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
    >it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

    Tire balance and/or bent wheel.  Occasionally a tire has a "squirelly"
    belt.  Front tires will make the steering wheel oscillate, rear tires
    will make the whole car vibrate.

    >At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
    >car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
    >emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

    Stability is frequently incorrect tire pressures.  If the tire sizes
    are stock go with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations per the
    sticker on the doorjamb or wherever.  Do NOT  let anybody second guess
    this.  They do NOT know more than the chassis/suspension engineers
    employed by the vehicle manufacturer.  What’s printed on the side of
    the tire is a MAXIMUM not a recommendation.  We fix 75%+ of our
    customers’ handling complaints by settings tires to the correct
    pressures.

    >I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
    >degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable.

    Camber is a very non-critical setting.

    > Also , I think my car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
    >caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
    >adjustable.

    Could cause a slight pull but unlikely to be a problem at all.  What
    is the spec?

    >At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
    >I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

    Toe is critical and MUST be set to spec.

    >Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
    >wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
    >optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less?

    Toe should be set to manufacturer’s specs to minimize tire wear and
    steering wander.  Any attempt to experiment with toe settings other
    than spec to reduce wobble will merely destroy tires and not address
    the actual problem.

    > Is it possible that
    >I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
    >different amounts of toe

    That makes no sense.  Toe is a measurement involving BOTH wheels.  It
    is the difference between the wheels at the front versus the rear.
    Talking about one wheel toed in and the other wheel toed out merely
    means that  the steering wheel is has been turned to one side.

    > to compensate for the caster problem?

    NO, NO and NO!
    Look at the tires and wheels.  In relatively rare cases a bad inner CV
    joint will cause front wheel wobble under acceleration.  Anything
    loose in the steering linkage can exaggerate the problem but more so
    at low speeds.

    Don
    http://www.donsautomotive.com

  4. admin says:

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    Old Wolf wrote:

    > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
    > of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
    > in what to do.

    > The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
    > line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
    > By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
    > it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

    > At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
    > car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
    > emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

    > I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
    > degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable. Also , I think my
    > car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
    > caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
    > adjustable.

    > At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
    > I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

    > Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
    > wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
    > optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less? Is it possible that
    > I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
    > different amounts of toe to compensate for the caster problem?

    What you describe is not an alignment problem.
    Sounds more like a bent wheel or tire out of round/balance.
    BTW, all parameters are adjustable, including caster.
    It just takes more work than a quickie alignment shop will put in.

  5. admin says:

    Excessive caster can cause wheel wobble, I don’t know what your car is and
    what the caster should be, but 5-6 degrees is a lot for most cars specs,
    also the camber is way to pos. I can’t see chasing this down without getting
    the alignment in spec. Big issue here is when did the wobble start, what was
    done to the car that made this start happening.
    "Old Wolf" <oldw…@inspire.net.nz> wrote in message

    news:1141179583.479513.192860@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com…

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    >I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
    > of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
    > in what to do.

    > The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
    > line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
    > By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
    > it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

    > At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
    > car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
    > emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

    > I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
    > degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable. Also , I think my
    > car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
    > caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
    > adjustable.

    > At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
    > I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

    > Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
    > wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
    > optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less? Is it possible that
    > I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
    > different amounts of toe to compensate for the caster problem?

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  6. admin says:

    Every time a vehicle acts like that on me, it is a balance issue or a
    bubble or warp in the tire tread or a bent rim.

    The area between 60 and 90 is when the tire goes from compressed by
    vehicle weight to pushed out from centripetal force so they float a
    little there.  That is where a bad balance usually shows first.

    Mike
    86/00 CJ7 Laredo, 33×9.5 BFG Muds, ‘glass nose to tail in ’00
    88 Cherokee 235 BFG AT’s
    Canadian Off Road Trips Photos:  Non members can still view!
    Jan/06 http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2115147590
    (More Off Road album links at bottom of the view page)

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    Old Wolf wrote:

    > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Before I take it back for them to fix, I’d like to get an understanding
    > of what actually needs to be done to fix it, so I can instruct them
    > in what to do.

    > The wobbles occur between speeds of 60 – 90km/h, in a straight
    > line. At any angle of more than a few degrees, the wobbles disappear.
    > By "wobble" I mean that if I loosen my grip on the steering wheel,
    > it jerks back and forth a couple of degrees at about 5Hz.

    > At higher speeds there is no steering wheel wobble, but the whole
    > car vibrates (eg. if i have two coins in the centre console then they
    > emit a low tone), and it feels less stable than usual.

    > I have a lower front suspension than stock, so there is about 1.5
    > degrees of camber. Camber is not adjustable. Also , I think my
    > car has been in a collision before I bought it because one side’s
    > caster is 5 degrees and the others is 6 degrees and this is not
    > adjustable.

    > At the first alignment, the guy set me a toe-in of about 0.4 degrees.
    > I think the toe is the only adjustable parameter on the front wheels.

    > Since I have previously had my car stable and without speed
    > wobbles, I guess there is some particular toe setting that is
    > optimal. Is this likely to be more toe, or less? Is it possible that
    > I may want to have the left wheel and the right wheel with
    > different amounts of toe to compensate for the caster problem?

  7. admin says:

    If it was fine before and now it wobbles, look to things that got
    changed.   Onward to what might cause it…

    > Occasionally a tire has a "squirelly" belt.

    I’ve had two of those on my cars over the years.    In one case the
    manager was emphatic that it was a bent rim.  You will be shocked —
    shocked! — to hear that the shop was responsible for the warranty
    fulfillment on the tire but had nothing to do with the rims.    When
    taken to a more on-the-ball outlet of the same chain,  it turned out to
    be a  separation that smiled at you quite visibly when the tire was
    dismounted and you looked at the inside while the tech flexed it
    around.   Interestingly, it didn’t cause much of a pull, though the
    other one did.

    One of the first clues in these cases, sometimes, is seen on the
    balancing machine.  An alert  tech who finds that the machine wants him
    to apply an extraordinary number of wheel weights, especially if they
    seem to be needed in different places every time he spins it up and/or
    every time the increasingly disgruntled customer drags it back, should
    look at these matters.

    Some forms of anomalous wear, such as cupping, will prevent you from
    *keeping* a tire balanced very long,  but I think (could be wrong) that
    that shouldn’t prevent a satisfactory  balance from being achieved and
    kept in the short term.

    Finally, don’t forget one that I’ve encountered several times — a
    wheelweight that whirled off.  Whee! You see a lot of them lying in the
    gutter, each, I would assume, formerly owned by a car that now has a
    mysterious vibration.    Some shops put them on properly and discard
    ones whose tab is loose.  Others just slap things on and send you on
    your way.

    > Front tires will make the steering wheel oscillate, rear tires
    > will make the whole car vibrate.

    Of course, another old trick to narrow down a problem is to do  a tire
    rotation and see if the problem changes in character or circumstances.

    Cheers,
    –Joe

  8. admin says:

    Old Wolf wrote:
    > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    Thanks to everyone who replied. I did in fact have a wheel
    balance (with tyres on and off) at the same time.

    I went back to the shop today (without my car) and they
    said that the wobble was a balance issue and they
    suggested I get some locator rings for the wheels.

    I’ll jack the car up and spin them and see if I can observe
    any wobble, it’d be good to confirm that, until I can
    actually get hold of some rings.

    Someone mentioned a warped rotor; one of my left brakes
    has been squealing for a long time now and two different
    workshops I went to both couldn’t fix it. The pads are good
    and the calipers are not jammed (they were, but I fixed them),
    so maybe a warped rotor is causing both problems.

    Specifically, at lower speeds and light braking the squeal
    will not be continuous (it’s clearly squealing for about 270
    degrees of the wheel’s rotation and not squealing for the
    other 90 degrees of it).

    I tried new (second-hand and machined, in fact) front rotors,
    no difference. I wanted to have the back rotors machined
    but the shop said they were too thin to machine. I suppose
    new back rotors would be the next thing to try there.

  9. admin says:

    You would only get " wobble" from the rotors when braking.
    "Old Wolf" <oldw…@inspire.net.nz> wrote in message

    news:1141268424.497425.269330@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com…

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    > Old Wolf wrote:
    >> I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    >> getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Thanks to everyone who replied. I did in fact have a wheel
    > balance (with tyres on and off) at the same time.

    > I went back to the shop today (without my car) and they
    > said that the wobble was a balance issue and they
    > suggested I get some locator rings for the wheels.

    > I’ll jack the car up and spin them and see if I can observe
    > any wobble, it’d be good to confirm that, until I can
    > actually get hold of some rings.

    > Someone mentioned a warped rotor; one of my left brakes
    > has been squealing for a long time now and two different
    > workshops I went to both couldn’t fix it. The pads are good
    > and the calipers are not jammed (they were, but I fixed them),
    > so maybe a warped rotor is causing both problems.

    > Specifically, at lower speeds and light braking the squeal
    > will not be continuous (it’s clearly squealing for about 270
    > degrees of the wheel’s rotation and not squealing for the
    > other 90 degrees of it).

    > I tried new (second-hand and machined, in fact) front rotors,
    > no difference. I wanted to have the back rotors machined
    > but the shop said they were too thin to machine. I suppose
    > new back rotors would be the next thing to try there.

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  10. admin says:

    Old Wolf <oldw…@inspire.net.nz> wrote in message

    news:1141268424.497425.269330@i40g2000cwc.googlegroups.com…

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    > Old Wolf wrote:
    > > I took my car in for a wheel alignment last week, because I was
    > > getting speed wobbles. After the alignment, the wobbles were worse.

    > Thanks to everyone who replied. I did in fact have a wheel
    > balance (with tyres on and off) at the same time.

    > I went back to the shop today (without my car) and they
    > said that the wobble was a balance issue and they
    > suggested I get some locator rings for the wheels.

    > I’ll jack the car up and spin them and see if I can observe
    > any wobble, it’d be good to confirm that, until I can
    > actually get hold of some rings.

    > Someone mentioned a warped rotor; one of my left brakes
    > has been squealing for a long time now and two different
    > workshops I went to both couldn’t fix it. The pads are good
    > and the calipers are not jammed (they were, but I fixed them),
    > so maybe a warped rotor is causing both problems.

    > Specifically, at lower speeds and light braking the squeal
    > will not be continuous (it’s clearly squealing for about 270
    > degrees of the wheel’s rotation and not squealing for the
    > other 90 degrees of it).

    > I tried new (second-hand and machined, in fact) front rotors,
    > no difference. I wanted to have the back rotors machined
    > but the shop said they were too thin to machine. I suppose
    > new back rotors would be the next thing to try there.

    Also don’t forget play in wheel bearings. That will exacerbate any tendency
    to wobble. I had an old nail many years ago that wobbled gently at about 55
    mph and no amount of wheel balancing would cure it. Turned out to be a loose
    wheel bearing on one side which just needed readjusting. Play in other
    suspension components can have the same effect.

    Dave Baker
    http://www.pumaracing.co.uk

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  11. admin says:

    I think warped rotors cause pulsating when braking (at any speed — if
    you are sensitive to what your car is saying to you, you can feel even
    mild rotor pulsation with your braking foot) and squeal comes from
    dirty brake pads and/or improper/inadequate lubrication of their
    backsides.

    I’m also thinking that although a warped rotor can cause an imbalance,
    that relatively small thing near the center has smaller effects than
    the big heavy thing ‘way out at the end of the radius — there’s a
    square law in there (not to mention a potentially square tire on
    there).

    The pursuit of smoothness can lead you to an on-car spin balance that
    accounts for the rotor as well, but I wouldn’t start with that —
    especially if (a) you have no pulsation when braking and (b) an
    alignment (with balancing and rotation and maybe tire re-mounting —
    what all did they do?) seems to have caused the present complaint.

    As for rear rotors, see if a tire rotation changes the nature of the
    problem, i.e., does the vibration stay on the same corner of the car or
    move with the tire?  Aside from being a useful data point, rotation  is
    a near no-tech diagnostic that you can perform in your own driveway
    with the tools and skills needed to change a tire.    (But since you’re
    engaged with a tire and/or alignment shop in solving this problem, let
    them do it — in fact, I’m surprised they haven’t already.)

    Cheers,
    –Joe

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