Wheel alignment: Daytrip to Camber

Camber is an issue when you are dealing with wheel alignment says Gareth. Does anyone deliberately make their tyres wear faster? You may be surprised

Published:  26 November, 2020

My last article, which appeared all the way back in the May issue believe it or not (did something happen between then and now? Oh yes…), was a little lesson on wheel alignment. I also covered the issue of minutes and degrees too. This article is about camber angles and setting up wheel alignment.
The same applies to camber (minutes and degrees) as it did with toe, it’s just a different angle. Now stand up, like you did back in May when I first mentioned toe in and toe out, then asked you to look down at your feet, keep your heels in position, and point your toes inwards so they point towards each other, and then the same with the heels with the toes outwards. This was toe-out, and walking with excessive toe-out, I pointed out, will wear the inner part of your shoes.
    I bet you have been looking back on that fondly. Well, it’s time to do it again. Come on, I’ll do it with you. Feet shoulder width apart, and now, try and make your knees touch, your legs now have negative camber. You can now turn into corners quicker. However, I bet you won’t be able to run very fast in a straight line without falling over.

You will have seen many boy racers with modified cars on the roads that think it’s great to run massive amounts of negative camber, that’s all well and good if they own a racing car and take it on a race track, but on our public roads and with our speed limits, what’s the point? There’s nothing to gain. Your tyres will wear at an alarming rate on the inside edge, and cost you more money, but it looks cool right? So, that’s ok. I’m sorry, did that sound sarcastic?
Now, if you were to stand with your feet in the same position as before, but now move your knees outwards, it’s difficult I know, your legs will be enduring positive camber. This is more stable than your negative legs were, but you wouldn’t want to turn into corners too fast with these legs. No, you would almost certainly fall over and probably break your leg and  I would have a lawsuit on my hands. You won’t see many sports cars at all with a positive camber setup, it just wouldn’t work.
That’s why we leave it to the engineers who design the cars to then give us, the technicians the correct wheel alignment settings. just make sure that the alignment is set within the manufacturer’s spec, that way you can’t go wrong.

If the car is fitted with a form of ADAS, that’s when things get a little tricky. The company I work for don’t actually make adjustments on vehicles equipped with any form of ADAS, a VERY wise decision I think. Also, any garage that does make adjustments are playing with the driver’s (and the driver’s family’s) lives. It’s all well and good taking £50-£60 from the customer for the alignment, but without correct kit to calibrate the camera and radar afterwards you’re playing very dangerous games.
A car equipped with ADAS is easily identifiable really. The radar box can’t be missed in a front bumper, unless you’re one of those annoying manufacturers who hide it behind the badge. Some cars have a blind spot detection system built into the wing mirrors, identifiable by the letters BLIS/BSW/BSM. The easiest to spot without a doubt is the forward-facing camera at the top of the windscreen close to the rear-view mirror. This is funnel shaped if you understand what I mean. I don’t think ADAS calibration equipment can be that far from being installed in the majority of workshops up and down the country. As soon as the equipment gets to an affordable price, garages will be snapping it up and capitalising on the chance to rake in the money.
I know it’s not all about the money, but at the end of the day that’s why we all go to work, and we as the techs are the ones keeping the money rolling in, but just make sure the money is earned honestly and faithfully. I’d hate to read one day about a car having an accident due to a garage mindlessly taking the customer’s money. If you aren’t sure if a car is equipped with ADAS when carrying out a wheel alignment check, all you need to do is ask a workmate to take a look. Better safe than sorry.


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