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Max front camber 2.125: What's bent?

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#1
Sphinx

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Let me ask two questions, at the JD setup height, what's the maximum front camber that can be achieved (1.6L with a FCM kit installed)? I've managed to get a max of 3 deg out of one side and the other is barely over two. So, what are the usual culprits? Nothing looks bent.

#2
Ron Alan

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Not bent in the correct direction for sure ;)

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#3
Rob Burgoon

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For me it was a few levels that lied. Check your method of measuring camber a few different ways. You might be getting -2.5 and -2.5 and measuring wrong.
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#4
Keith Novak

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Check that your setup is dead level. One wheel .1 lower than the other either due to your floor or your tires will put the car at about a 1* tilt.
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#5
Rob Burgoon

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One wheel .1 lower than the other


units?
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#6
Sphinx

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For me it was a few levels that lied. Check your method of measuring camber a few different ways. You might be getting -2.5 and -2.5 and measuring wrong.


Yea, I'm not running into that. Just with the naked eye you can tell a difference side to side. The one side that's at -3 has older style control arm, the one that cant get past -2.125 is with the newer style one.

#7
davew

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I am going to act like a lawyer and try to take your words and twist them into the truth ;-))

As Keith said. Are you 100% sure your setup pad is 100% level. If you have 0.1* of tilt in the floor, your reading will change 0.1* positive on one side and negative on the other side.

Check your gauge. I have seen many digital gauges read different when measuring the same wall for camber.

Assuming your equipment is satifactory, lets look at what you told us.

"the one that cant get past -2.125 is with the newer style one. " To me this tells me you put 99+ upper control arm on the car. (non compliant by the way)Since you never stated that you changed the spindle, I assume you did not. 99+ control arms are not compatable with 90 spindles. This may be part of your issue.

If you meant that you put a control arm on that is still a NA part, but with the later model bracing (totally legal), did you use new or used parts. If new we can eliminate those parts. If used, they are still suspect. And why do you have new parts? was there a crash that you have not told us about? What parts have you replaced?

Also, a critical piece of information is a caster reading. And are the adjustment cams maxed out?

I will make some assumptions.
There was some kind of a crash.
All parts are used, either original or junk yard parts.
Your floor and measuring tools are accurate.

One quick check that goes un noticed, is the shock centered in the hole in the upper control arm. Centered as compared to the other side.

Start by measuring the subframe. You must measure from the two "upside down horseshoe" side to side. You will need a plumb bob or a trammel bar to do this. You will take 4 measurements. Front of the front cams, rear of the front cams, front of the rear cams and rear of the rear cams. All four measurements should be the same within 1/8". The actual number is not important, the fact that all 4 are the same is important. Usually it is the rear pickup that gets pushed inboard. This makes sense since it is highly unlikely that the subframe would stretch. The rear being bent in also makes sense for your lack of negative camber. Having a caster reading would help, as a bent rear pickup point will also change caster, dramaticly.

Next assumption, the subframe is ok. Lack of neg camber tells us that the lower ball joint is pushed in or the upper is pushed out. Logic tells us that the upper being pushed out is unlikely. But I have seen it a few times. This sounds stupid, but it works. Get under the car close your eyes, and rub your hands accross both upper and lower control arms and spindles. By using both hands you may find the bent part. NO CRUDE COMMENTS PLEASE! If you feel no irregularities, remove the brake calipers and use a straight edge accross the mounting ears for the brake caliper bracket on the spindle. Usually when the spindle bends in a crash, the mounting ears will not be parralel any more.

If everything still looks ok, change the ball joint. They are cheap and easy to replace. The stud bends often in crashes.

Now reassemble and remeasure. If you still have problems it is time to guess. Generally if caster is ok, the lower control arm is ok. Start by replacing the spindle. If caster is bad, the lower control arm is most likely bent.

I have built a set of jigs to measure control arms and rear uprights. This way I can tell if a used part is bent, before I put it on a car. You would be amazed at how many perfectly good appearing control arms are actually bent.

Dave
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Dave Wheeler
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#8
Walter Vetter

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#9
Glenn

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I am going to act like a lawyer and try to take your words and twist them into the truth ;-))

As Keith said. Are you 100% sure your setup pad is 100% level. If you have 0.1* of tilt in the floor, your reading will change 0.1* positive on one side and negative on the other side.

Check your gauge. I have seen many digital gauges read different when measuring the same wall for camber.

Assuming your equipment is satifactory, lets look at what you told us.

"the one that cant get past -2.125 is with the newer style one. " To me this tells me you put 99+ upper control arm on the car. (non compliant by the way)Since you never stated that you changed the spindle, I assume you did not. 99+ control arms are not compatable with 90 spindles. This may be part of your issue.

If you meant that you put a control arm on that is still a NA part, but with the later model bracing (totally legal), did you use new or used parts. If new we can eliminate those parts. If used, they are still suspect. And why do you have new parts? was there a crash that you have not told us about? What parts have you replaced?

Also, a critical piece of information is a caster reading. And are the adjustment cams maxed out?

I will make some assumptions.
There was some kind of a crash.
All parts are used, either original or junk yard parts.
Your floor and measuring tools are accurate.

One quick check that goes un noticed, is the shock centered in the hole in the upper control arm. Centered as compared to the other side.

Start by measuring the subframe. You must measure from the two "upside down horseshoe" side to side. You will need a plumb bob or a trammel bar to do this. You will take 4 measurements. Front of the front cams, rear of the front cams, front of the rear cams and rear of the rear cams. All four measurements should be the same within 1/8". The actual number is not important, the fact that all 4 are the same is important. Usually it is the rear pickup that gets pushed inboard. This makes sense since it is highly unlikely that the subframe would stretch. The rear being bent in also makes sense for your lack of negative camber. Having a caster reading would help, as a bent rear pickup point will also change caster, dramaticly.

Next assumption, the subframe is ok. Lack of neg camber tells us that the lower ball joint is pushed in or the upper is pushed out. Logic tells us that the upper being pushed out is unlikely. But I have seen it a few times. This sounds stupid, but it works. Get under the car close your eyes, and rub your hands accross both upper and lower control arms and spindles. By using both hands you may find the bent part. NO CRUDE COMMENTS PLEASE! If you feel no irregularities, remove the brake calipers and use a straight edge accross the mounting ears for the brake caliper bracket on the spindle. Usually when the spindle bends in a crash, the mounting ears will not be parralel any more.

If everything still looks ok, change the ball joint. They are cheap and easy to replace. The stud bends often in crashes.

Now reassemble and remeasure. If you still have problems it is time to guess. Generally if caster is ok, the lower control arm is ok. Start by replacing the spindle. If caster is bad, the lower control arm is most likely bent.

I have built a set of jigs to measure control arms and rear uprights. This way I can tell if a used part is bent, before I put it on a car. You would be amazed at how many perfectly good appearing control arms are actually bent.

Dave


And Dave offers this advice for FREE!!!!! Thanks Dave! It's guys like you that make this class the BEST!
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#10
FTodaro

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I am going to act like a lawyer and try to take your words and twist them into the truth ;-))


Dave


Don't do it Dave I will have to report you to the Bar.

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#11
davew

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Don't do it Dave I will have to report you to the Bar.


Is that because lawyers never speak the truth?

OR

Would it be for impersonating Gary?

Did I really say that out loud? Hey Charbs, Who won the joke contest?

Dave

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#12
Sphinx

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BTW, I don't need to get this car perfect, but close is the objective. I'm setting it up for a track day, not head to head competition.

First, I will confess that I can't empiraclly say that the floor is flat, but it is "good-enough" flat". I'd have to have almost a degree of tilt in the floor to get the error I'm reading. I've aligned several street cars successfully.

Second, the control arm is simply the OEM replacement on on the driver's side that has the single tab, not the double tab, for the swaybar endlink.

Third, I've owned the car for the last six years (though it did have two other SM owners before that) and it's never been wrecked under my watched, except on the passenger side, which had no suspension damage.

Fourth, the fact that the LF has a replacement LCA means that the original one got damaged at some point. Not on my watch, but I haven't noticed any ill effects either.

Fifth, I'll have to check the centering of the shock tower and make sure it is moved over as far as possible.

Sixth, yes, the cams are maxed out.

Did I miss anything?

As far as the upper arm, there is no adjustment there, right?

#13
Glenn

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As far as the upper arm, there is no adjustment there, right?

None "legal" ;)

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#14
davew

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BTW, I don't need to get this car perfect, but close is the objective. I'm setting it up for a track day, not head to head competition.

First, I will confess that I can't empiraclly say that the floor is flat, but it is "good-enough" flat". I'd have to have almost a degree of tilt in the floor to get the error I'm reading. I've aligned several street cars successfully.

Second, the control arm is simply the OEM replacement on on the driver's side that has the single tab, not the double tab, for the swaybar endlink.

Third, I've owned the car for the last six years (though it did have two other SM owners before that) and it's never been wrecked under my watched, except on the passenger side, which had no suspension damage.

Fourth, the fact that the LF has a replacement LCA means that the original one got damaged at some point. Not on my watch, but I haven't noticed any ill effects either.

Fifth, I'll have to check the centering of the shock tower and make sure it is moved over as far as possible.

Sixth, yes, the cams are maxed out.

Did I miss anything?

As far as the upper arm, there is no adjustment there, right?


You are measuring to 1/8 degree, you obviously are looking for some degree of perfection.

In your original post you have 3* on one side and barely over 2* on the other side. Since your title is 2.125, I assume that is the actual measurement. If you have 0.3* tilt you would read 2.7 and 2.4 and would probably not have asked the same question. So floor accuracy is vital.

Points 2-3-4 tell me the car has not been wrecked recently. Is this camber reading a new problem? Or has it been around for a while? When was the last time the car was alligned? Was it done in the same garage? with the same equipment? With what readings? Still need a caster reading!

Point 5 is misleading. The shock tower does not move. But if the shock is not centered in the upper control arm it indicates that something is out of position at the lower attachment of the shock. Further indication that something is bent down below.

Obviously something is bent. You can always throw parts at the problem, but this will give you a logical method of diagnosing the problem. This is the method I use in the shop every day. Sometimes it is amazing how sturdy these cars are. And sometimes all it takes is a curb hop the right way and it bends several parts.

Dave

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#15
Alberto

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I had a very minor bend in my pax lower control arm that resulted in a loss of about .2 on camber. You could barely notice it unless you were carefully paying attention to the curves of the lower control arm. There was no known incident associated with that bend. Dave's idea to feel the flow of the curves on the control arms is interesting and can probably work for some.

Another time I was fixing incident damage, front subframe and upper and lower control arms were replaced. I couldn't get more than -2.1* of camber or more than 3.5* caster on that side. I was able to get -3* camber and 5* caster on the other side. I had not replaced the spindle or ball joint. That was a mistake... Both were bent. I didn't even know you could bend a ball joint....

A bent ball joint is hard to see just by looking at it. It is easy to see if you watch it in motion though. Here is a video that I made trying to illustrate how to test for a bent ball joint. Learned this trick from Tim at TFB.

A bent spindle is even harder to spot. The only way we were able to tell it was bent was by carefully comparing it to a known straight spindle. After a few minutes of comparing side by side, he noticed that one of the attachment points was off ever so slightly. I couldn't tell until he pointed it out.

Longer blog post on fixing my front end here if interested http://blog.miatarac...ing-damage.html
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#16
Sphinx

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FWIW, I used a digital phone app. And it read within 1/8 of a degree of my old-fashion bubble camber gauge. So, that eliminates the floor as not flat.

Davew, I didnt take a caster reading. AGain, being a track day, I'm taking some licenses.

#17
Jim Boemler

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FWIW, I used a digital phone app. And it read within 1/8 of a degree of my old-fashion bubble camber gauge. So, that eliminates the floor as not flat.


Not really. That just means it's approximately as inaccurate as the bubble. ;) The way to check for flat is just like calibrating the level (you did that with the phone app, right?).

#18
Bench Racer

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For about $30.00 you can buy a water level from Speedway Motors. Also I use a $35.00 Sears digital/bubble level with a one inch square tube (SS strip attached) for camber, simple calibrate.
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#19
Walter Vetter

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Just a thought: I'm big on second opinions. Have you considered taking your car to a pro for a laser alignment to verify your readings? I use a local tire shop that measures to the 100th degree. 4 wheels - $80.
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#20
Rob Burgoon

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For about $30.00 you can buy a water level from Speedway Motors.


I bought that water level, it leaked in no less than 4 places when new.
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