[Vwdiesel] DIY alignment tips?

Shawn Wright swright at zuiko.sls.bc.ca
Sat Nov 5 23:50:54 EST 2005

On 5 Nov 2005 at 19:45, Val Christian <val at mongobird.com> wrote:

> On my 84, I simply went 0 camber.

Last time I got it done, I had to argue with the shop, as they told me camber wasn't 
adjustable! I showed him how, and pointed at the numbers on their computer, and 
refused to pay until it was right. 
> For toe, you can use a trackguage which is spring loaded to sit in the
> tire/wheel grove, and with little chains to get it level and a fixed 
> distance off the ground on each side.  If you don't have one, use a 
> light weight chain, and a helper.  Put chalk marks on the tire so you
> can hit the same spots the same height off the ground.  
> You can get pretty close with this method.  On the road, I've used string.
> I was 16 at the time, and a family car hit a sheet of plywood falling
> off a dumptruck.  One 8 yo brother had to ride with me, because the 
> family station wagon was full.  It was a Sat night, so I did the align
> readjustment in a parking lot while little brother ate.  The wheels were
> pretty straight, but the caster was way off.  The car was down for the 
> entire vacation while parts were ordered.  (We traveled with two, needed
> for eight kids.)
> BTW you have the right way to get the camber, but I use a calculator and 
> do it off the wheel, and use a magnetic torpedo level, with shims.  
> For shims, I've used the sheet magnets which everyone hands out.  Lift,
> adjust, tighten, set down, roll car back and forth, and test.  Repeat
> at least twice.  Usually more.  Oh, your 0.24" sounds like quite a bit 
> too much.  

I'll have to double check my math, it could be 1/8" I suppose. I'm more worried about 
toe though.

> Having said all this, you can get it close, but here I pay about $35 or 
> $40 for a four wheel laser alignment.  I do it in the shop at home, and
> when I'm all done, and everything has been tested, I run it to a shop with
> the laser system.  It's worth it in terms of longterm wear on the tires, 
> etc.

Thanks, I'll try some of these tricks tomorrow and see if I can get it close. I just 
swapped on the snow tires, so I'd rather not use them up too quickly! I do need 2 
new front tires for the spring, so I'll wait for a deal on alignment. Some of the shops 
will give free or cheap alignment when you buy tires. 

I notice it's getting very hard to get decent tires in these old sizes any more 
(185/60R14) - mostly just cheap house brand stuff. I've got Michelins X-1s now, but 
they're not making them in this size anymore. 

Shawn Wright
'85 Jetta D 
'88 Westy 1.6TD 5 speed
 (see progress at http://members.shaw.ca/vwdiesels)
'82 Diesel Westy

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