If there's only two bolts on your cross member, it likely isn't what the lower control arms are bolted to so its position isn't critical. If it was critical, as with the GM cars, those can easily be shifted 1/4" which will make the car real miserable to drive even after an alignment. If you didn't notice a change for the worse in handling, he either got it on right or its position isn't important. When it's wrong, either the steering wheel will oscillate left and right a little or the car will steer left and right a little as it goes up and down over bumps.
The angles of the anti-sway bar links is not important in itself, in fact, you can take the bar and links off and throw them away, and it will have no affect on tire wear or alignment. The car could even ride a little smoother but it will have a tendency to lean more on corners, that's all. The angle of the links though could be considered an indicator that something is mispositioned. I suspect if you looked at a dozen new cars that use the same style links, you'll find one or two where they aren't exactly the same.
There's two ways to make camber adjustable. The aftermarket world has developed "problem solver" parts for this type of thing. Here's some photos from rockauto. Com showing your strut and the eccentric bolt that can be installed in place of one of the original bolts. Note the narrowed section in the middle. That allows movement so the knuckle can be shifted in and out a little. That lets it pivot on the lower ball joint stud and changes camber.
An easier trick is to simply grab a die grinder with a carbide bit and grind the upper mounting holes oblong, shown with my sad red arrows. That lets you retain the original bolt which is larger in diameter and presumably stronger. The advantage of the eccentric bolt is if you turn it so the wheel tilts in on top too far, THEN turn it the other way to bring the camber back up right to where you want it, and tighten it there, the knuckle will be resting against that bolt. That gives it added support to resist shifting position when you bounce through a large pot hole. By grinding the hole oblong to create the adjustment, you'll usually make it bigger than necessary and the knuckle will likely not be resting against the bolt. The only thing that prevents it from shifting when you drive over bumpy roads is the clamping force of the two bolts. This is how most GM front-wheel-drive cars have to be modified, and there are a few Chrysler models that don't have other provisions for adjusting camber and I've modified them the same way without experiencing any shifting problems. The only thing I ever ran into was another fellow thought he was doing me a favor by coating the knuckles with anti-seize compound. That was on a Dodge Dynasty. No matter how hard I tightened those two bolts, both wheels flopped in on top as soon as I let the car off the jack. Just could not build any friction. In fact, after that happened three or four times, I got frustrated and tightened the bolts so hard by hand that I snapped one by stretching it apart. When I took it apart to replace it, THAT'S when I found the anti-seize compound and had to wash it all off. A little grease doesn't hurt but even that isn't necessary.
As for the tire wear, why are the two worn to different depths? The one in the photo doesn't appear to have much of a camber problem so the wear would have to be attributed to toe or simply high mileage. Toe wear would show up on the other tire too.
At the risk of making this more confusing, on most cars changing camber changes toe too but changing toe doesn't affect camber. In this magnificent drawing, the top picture shows the relationship of the outer tie rod end stud with the hole it bolts to in the steering knuckle, (two blue arrows), and they are lined up. If you look back from in front of the car, you'll see that tie rod end is a lot higher off the ground than the lower ball joint. When camber is adjusted out on top as shown in the lower left drawing, the steering arm moves out with it. Now you can see the red and blue arrows aren't lined up. On most cars the tie rods are behind the center of the wheels so you would have to turn the wheel and spindle to the right to line up the arrows and install the tie rod end. All that means is once camber is set on that wheel, you have to readjust toe. The tie rods have to be lengthened to compensate for moving the top of the spindle outward.
Some cars, particularly older rear-wheel-drive models had their steering linkages lower down like in the right drawing. Tilting the wheel had relatively little effect on the position of the steering arm so adjusting camber didn't change toe very much. This also caused little toe change regardless how much camber change occurred as the suspension traveled up and down on bumpy roads. Made for more stable steering.
Manufacturers are always trying to design in improved handling and raising the steering linkage is one way to do that. During cornering, as the spindle goes up into the body, camber changes and causes toe to change too. That might cause the steering to respond more aggressively for a sportier feel or it might dampen the steering response for a more relaxed feel. Fortunately we don't have to worry about all of that. It's just helpful to understand what is taking place and how all the geometry ties together.
May, 31, 2012 AT 1:26 AM
Woops, forgot the drawings.
May, 31, 2012 AT 2:54 AM
Hi, I don't know hhow to ever thank you for all your help. I have learned alot just be reading all your posted, so many, many thanks again. This car is driving me nuts. To fill you in, that passenger tire that is all worn has only been on 8 months or so. All the tires get bald on that passenger side. Also, the steering wheel always pulls to the right if I am on a straight road-way driving
The driver side tire is only worn about one inch (on outer edge). The rest of the driver tire is fine.
This has been an on-going problem. I used an aftermarket passenger control arm, so I am wondering if that ADDS to the problem or if the axle I replaced (rebuilt) was wrong. I remember I used locktight on my new inner tie rods, and NOt the original locknuts that were on my old inner tie rods. I am trying to find fault in any my parts, but I suspect something is out of wack somewhere.
It will be interesting to find out the real culprit besides the toe. By the way, the 4 bolts I bought for CAMBER were very similiar to your picture, so I can give them to the alignment guy when I go. Thanks for the photos.
Everything has been apart on that passenger side. Like I said, the only thing I haven't replaced is the ENGINE mount on that side, and the rear roller stop bushing(rear crossmember). The center crossbar has 2 bolts in it's front with rubber washers and 2-3 bolts in the rear. Can't see. Would have to have it up on lift, but if you say not to worry about that crossbar, I trust you!
Will let you know what happens. Also, excuse any typos. My keyboard also needs to be fixed.
Again, many thanks all your help is MUCH appreciated
May, 31, 2012 AT 5:09 AM
The axle shaft shouldn't matter. The inner cv joint is called a "plunge joint" because the shaft can move in and out of it to change length as it turns and the suspension goes up and down.
From the tire wear, it sounds like you have a toe problem affecting both and a camber problem on the right side. Remember, tires want to roll in the direction they're leaning so besides being in specs for good tread wear, they have to be nearly equal side-to-side so their pulls counteract each other and the car goes straight. If the right tire is leaning out too much on top, that will make the car pull right when you let go of the steering wheel, and it will add to the toe wear.
The camber will typically change with the new lower control arm because no two are ever exactly alike. You can't really blame that on the aftermarket manufacturer. That can happen with original parts too. It's why we have to align cars when those parts are replaced.
I would like it if you could list the numbers from the alignment printout when the car is done. Most computers record and print the "before" readings from when the mechanic goes through the setup procedure, and it records and prints the "after" readings when he tells it he's done making adjustments. The manufacturer's specs will be listed too. I can interpret those numbers to explain the tire wear and pull.
There's one more primary angle that will be listed called "caster". It has very little or no effect on tire wear but it does have a big affect on pulling on rear-wheel-drive vehicles. I don't know why but it rarely causes a pull on front-wheel-drive cars even when it's off by a lot. Of main concern is it is the same on both sides. Think of a teeter totter. You want both people to be of the same weight but most importantly, they have to be the same distance from the pivot. Their distance from the pivot doesn't matter; it just has to be the same.
There's at least five ways to describe how caster does its thing. I went through one description with my students on Monday, then a different one on Tuesday. By Thursday, everyone understood the angle and by then all the descriptions made sense. Basically WHAT it does is causes the wheels to want to come back to straight ahead when you let go of the steering wheel after going around a corner. You can think of it as the rake of a fork on a bicycle or motorcycle. The fork goes forward as it goes down. It doesn't go straight down. On a bicycle that's what allows you to ride no-handed. It's your weight that pushes the wheel straight ahead. On a car, since the pivots, (the ball joints or upper strut mount) are off to the side of the wheel, caster makes the wheel want to flop in or turn in toward the center of the car. Like that teeter totter, when the caster on both wheels is the same, they both want to turn in equally hard. It's when you connect the steering linkage between them that they counteract each other and stay straight.
More than likely caster is not adjustable on your car and that's okay since it's not going to cause a problem, but it is nice to see what you have. I had a Chrysler LeBaron convertible that was crashed into a parked truck at 50 mph, then rebuilt and I aligned it. Found 3.00 degrees difference in caster side-to-side but the car drove perfectly straight. 3.00 degrees difference on a heavy rear-wheel-drive car would just about tug the steering wheel out of your hand.
Here's a tidbit you might find interesting when you look for a shop and mechanic to do the alignment. All alignment computers I'm familiar with can be set by the mechanic to display caster and camber to either one or two places after the decimal point. I always set mine to display two places, such as 3.25 degrees. Many mechanics set theirs to display 3.2 because it makes for faster alignments when they don't have to be so picky. What I found on the many Chryslers I aligned when I worked for a very nice dealership was they almost all called for 0.30 degrees camber meaning the tires were tipped out on top an amount too small to see, but it made for perfect tire wear. What I found though was they needed exactly 0.06 degrees more on the left wheel than on the right one to make up for "road crown". That's the tilt to the right of the roadway so rain runs off. The 0.06 degrees higher on the left provided a barely negligible pull to the left to offset the effects of that road crown. A full 1.00 degree was too much in many cases so I had to be very precise. If the computer was set to read to tenths of a degree, there could be 0.34 on the right, rounded off and displayed as 0.3 degrees, and there could be 0.36 on the left, rounded off and displayed as 0.4 degrees. The actual 0.02 degrees isn't enough difference to offset road crown but the 0.1 degree difference displayed would be too much difference. The bottom line is it may not be that critical for your car, and the proof is in the end result in how the car drives and wears tires. That's due in great part to the mechanic's experience and his familiarity with his computer. The only reason for even bringing it up is that given the opportunity to see the computer or the mechanic in action, you can tell if he values speed or accuracy more. With old heavy cars of the '70s and early '80s, some old alignment equipment measured caster and camber to 1/16 degree accuracy and that was plenty sufficient for those cars. Today's cars can be measured to the hundredth of a degree. Sneezing next to the car changes some readings!
Also, don't panic if you see some numbers that are out of specs after he's done with the alignment. All specs include a tolerance. A typical camber spec for my Chryslers would have been 0.30 plus or minus 0.25 degrees. There's a couple of issues here. First of all, at the allowable limits of 0.05 and 0.55 degrees, there is going to be noticeable uneven tire wear by the time the tires are worn out so no mechanic would leave them close to those limits. The reason for publishing such a high tolerance is as long as the numbers fall within that range, the manufacturer will pay to have it checked if it's under warranty but they will not pay to have it adjusted. You're expected to leave it alone. It is rare to have a car new enough to still be in warranty and to have the alignment off that little. Normally there would be a worn part, then the manufacturer WOULD pay for everything including necessary adjustments.
For those of us who understand that tighter tolerances are needed for good tire wear, there is a button on the computer to "reduce tolerances". On a typical car that will change the plus or minus 0.25 degrees to plus or minus perhaps 0.10 degrees or even 0.08 degrees. There's only two times that is noteworthy. One is on the computer screen during the alignment. For quick reference from a distance, numbers in the acceptable range are highlighted in green and numbers out of specs are highlighted in red. That's just to let the mechanic see at a glance when the adjustment is getting close. The second time it shows up is on the printout that you get. The mechanic may have hit the "reduce tolerance" button for more accuracy but that could make one or two readings fall outside those new tighter limits. The problem is that on some computers you only get one shot at pressing that button. You can reduce the tolerance but there is no button to go back to "expand tolerance". To do that he has to go through the entire setup procedure again which takes a long time so they just leave it as it is. THAT'S why you might find some measurements that appear to be not set to specs, so don't panic or complain over that until I see the actual numbers.
For reference, 0.00 degrees camber means the wheel is perfectly straight up and down. That is usually not desirable for best wear. If you could imagine a wheel laying flat on its side, that would be 90 degrees. Cars that call for a real lot of camber might call for 0.75 or even 1.00 degree. That is barely enough to see but it is what the manufacturer found to result in the best tire wear. Ford has always been the notable exception. Their Escorts and Tempos from the '80s called for over 2 1/2 degrees on the front and very high negative on the rear. Those tires looked like they didn't know which way to go. Ford tricked a lot of people into buying those "killer cars" because they rode much smoother than other small cars because they were riding on just the edges of the tires. What they didn't want you to know until after you bought it was they shredded front tires in as little as 15,000 miles. The aftermarket industry came up with a fix to stand the rear wheels up straighter but due to the design of the front struts, there was no way to fix the horrendous front camber and tire wear. Many tire stores refused to include a warranty on replacement tires for those cars because they knew they couldn't solve the problem.
As a side note, the proper camber setting tilts the spindle and places the vehicle's weight right in the center of the wheel bearing. On rear-wheel-drive cars and trucks it puts the weight right over the larger inner bearing. The smaller outer one is just to hold the wheel straight. This is one of the many things people mess up when they lower cars or put lift kits in trucks.
Other angles I can explain include steering axis inclination and thrust angle. Those are considered secondary angles and do not affect tire wear or handling directly. They are merely indicators that something else is wrong that needs to be looked into. Camber and toe will be measured on the rear wheels too. If there's no objectionable wear on those tires, expect that no adjustments will be made on the rear. Thrust angle is the direction the two rear tires, taken as a whole, are steering. As long as it's not too high, all that is necessary is the two front wheels must be adjusted so they're perfectly parallel to the rear ones to make the steering wheel straight. The computer takes that into account when it shows the mechanic where to set the toe for the front ones.
I'm sorry for getting so long-winded again, but if you get the opportunity to watch the alignment being done, you'll have an idea of what's taking place. As for keyboard problems, I have o go back now and pu in all the "t"s that my compuer forgo!
June, 11, 2012 AT 2:44 PM
Okay, I went to s new shop which was a mistake as my mechanic was away. The ownner was not only rude, but yelled at me when I tries to ask the repair guy a questions, and told me to " get out of the shop". I was on foot, and quite upaset as I am a woman who put my faith in a jerk!
He had an ad for $49.99 for all 4 wheel. When I gave hi my camber bolts, he wanted $90 and I settleds to give him $80. He gave me no receipt and was no where to be found when I came back 4 hrs later (after cooling down in the 94 degree florida heat).
I had asked for a printout before and after and al he left me was a BEFORE redings on the alignment. There were NO toe readings. All it said was toe set by WINGRADE. I will give oyu the before readings. Also, they had 3 guys there reading directions on how to install the camber bolts.I looked when I got home and they put one upper CAMBER (NEW ADJUSTABLEBOLT) on the top of each Strut. The car seems to ride better but I have no idea what the after readings are, and was so upset, I didn't bother asking to be honest. I will send you the before readings next reply. Thanks
June, 11, 2012 AT 2:45 PM
Excsue the typos. Keyboard not wroking!
June, 11, 2012 AT 9:26 PM
Every city has their share of rude business people. Sorry you found one, but I bet it's a long time before you go back there. Most shop owners don't want customers in the dangerous work areas but there are polite and tactful ways of saying that.
One very nice dealership owner I used to work for knew that it takes more advertising dollars to get one new customer than it takes to keep ten happy customers coming back, and every business owner wants more customers. What possible goal does that guy think he's going to meet by being rude?
I used to work for a crabby fellow at a tv repair shop in the '70s. He treated many of his customers the same way. Keep in mind that in both situations, the employees are not of the same attitude. Many of us are / were just as put off by the boss as the customers are.
June, 15, 2012 AT 9:51 PM
Why thank you for your kind words. Yes, it's too bad I went to this shop, but you learn from mistakes. I am giving you the only info they gave me.I don't undertand what it means, as they never explained after they did an alignment on the 92 excel. On each front side, they put in ONe camber bolt on top of each front strut that adjusts (on the right front and Left front) strut.
The sheet I cannot fax as I have no fax, but it showed a pic of a vehicle facing forward, passenger side on right. Then it says : * *
0.5 | 0.0 | degrees -0.5 -0.5 | 0.5
2.2 |.| |.| 2.2
-0.08 |-0.02 | 0.16 0.16 | 0.05 | -0.08 degrees
THE ASTERISKS ARE REALLY BOLD ARROWS ON THOSE NUMBERS
its says on top of page SAVE THE BEFORE MEASUREMENTS, so I don't know if these are before or after. Fill me in if you can
I know its hard w/o a scan, but thanks! Wish I had you as my mechanic!
June, 15, 2012 AT 9:59 PM
Typed wrong CAMBER measurements have bold arrows OVER ; * *
0.5 |0.0 | -0.5 -0.5 | -0.5 | 0.5 degrees
CASTER says really nothing
TOE, the bold arrows are over -0.02 and 0.05 degrees
hope that helps. My asterisks moved when I sent you the previous email; sorry
June, 15, 2012 AT 10:02 PM
Sorry it won't let me place arrows. The BOLD arrows on CAMBER are over |o.O| degrees and |-0.5| degree
TOE, BOLD ARROWS OVER
|-0.02| and |0.05| degrees