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[How-to] set your toe alignment at home

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Old 08-21-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
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[How-to] set your toe alignment at home

bad toe alignment is one of the fastest ways to wear away your tires.
spindle swaps are known to cause toe alignment change.
even if you are taking the truck to the shop to get it proffesionally aligned, this may be a good idea to do in your garage before driving the couple miles to the shop. save your tires a bit, and much safer.



step 1. drive your truck into a smooth patch of ground. a concrete garage works well.
obviously a perfectly level floor will be better, but for setting just toe, it is not a big deal as long as it isnt too horrible.
straighten the steering wheel perfectly and leave it there.
if the steering wheel is not straight, due to ackerman, the alignment will be off before you are even done

step 2. set the parking brake and put something in front of and behind the rear tires as a safety precaution

here, you can see a miter cut 4x4 will work perfectly fine, and a piece of 2x4 will work relatively well.



step 3.

jack the front end up and place it on jackstands



step 4.

locate the tie rods, and loosen the clamping bolts on each side. should be 1/2" hex heads on bolt and nut. watch out, because most sockets will not fit around the round part, and will not have a firm 'hold' and may strip the bolt/nut. open end wrenches should be a good choice, since you do not have to remove, just loosen a thread or so.




step 5.

place a stack of newspapers (or if you are well prepared, a turn table or even 2 sheets of sheetmetal with grease between them) under the tires.

this is not too necessary for just toe alignment, but makes things easier, as well as if you are doing caster, very helpful



step 6.

lower the truck down again on top of the newspapers




step 7.

bounce on the front end. alot.
especially if you have plastic bushings, the sticktion in the bushings keep them 'bound' in a non-at-rest- position, so you must jump up and down over the suspension. easy to do if you have a metal bumper, if not... be careful not to dent any body panels.

step 8.

mark a point on your reference tool. you want something that is very straight, and not flimsy. i went to the local hardware store and bought these 3 ft sections of angle aluminum. since you are not 'using them' or 'damaging' them, there is a high chance that you can just go back and return them to the store if you want, after you are done aligning the truck.

i marked the halfway point out of simplicity. not a huge deal, as long as the left and right ones are symmetrical.




step 9.

you must rest the reference tool against the tire, but the tool must be above the tire bulge at the bottom. an easy way to make sure, is to make sure you see part of the wheel underneath the reference tool.



make sure the reference tool is horizontal, or as close as you can get.
2 chunks of 2x4s worked well for me, but for people with taller or shorter sidewalls may need to use something different.



if you have rattlecans laying around, they will work as well, but be careful about clearance




align the left and right reference tools at the same distance, which was simple if you marked the center earlier, as a makeshift plumb bob will even work to center it on the wheel



i found that placing a small weight on the reference tool keeps it from moving every time you place a tape measure on it. here, a jtr setback plate was close by, and worked fine.



step 10.

with both sides set up symmetrically, pull out your tape measure and measure across the reference tools (make sure the tape measure is going straight across under the truck, and is not hung up or bent down from anything





if your memory sucks as bad as mine, the newspaper serves as a good note-pad



using two tape measures makes this job very easy.




step 11.

now that you know how to measure, you can adjust. i see no issues with setting the toe to zero, so if you just turn the tie rod sleeves until both measurements in front and behind the tire are the same.

once they are, move everything out of the way and drive your truck slowly down the driveway, taking note of which way the steering wheel is cocked to go straight, if not, jack the truck up, tighten down the clamps and you are all set.
if the steering wheel is not straight, turn the sleeves the same amount on both sides, and recheck the cross toe, and fix as necessary. slowly drive down the driveway again, and repeat.

once it gets pretty damn close, tighten the clamps down and take it for a drive on a straight road. take note of how the steering wheel is pointing again, and repeat process.

unless you are lucky, it will most likely take a couple tries unless you were not too far off from the start.

good luck!
Old 08-21-2008, 07:04 PM   #2
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Nice writeup
Old 08-23-2008, 02:58 PM   #3
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Just a question. Couldn't one use 2 straight pc's of flat
alum stock 1/4" x 6" or 8" and longer that the overall
dia of the tire and lay it up against the sidewall parallel,
cut two slots in them midway both front and rear so
the tape can slide in and out, to take the measurement ?

You'd need two panels with four slots altogether of
course, but it seems like it might be a lil easier.
Old 08-23-2008, 03:11 PM   #4
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

that pretty technical, but im sure it's alot more accurate than the spot of tread i used when i did mine. mine must've been pretty close to begin with, because i barely had to mess with mine.

either way, good write up. i'll be saving this to explain to people what a "driveway alignment" is
Old 08-23-2008, 03:24 PM   #5
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

not to bad man....this will def get you close untill you can get to a real alignment machine....a trustworthy one...i've seen how other shops use there machines...they never even turn them on...shady..
Old 08-23-2008, 04:58 PM   #6
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Quote: Originally Posted by bg's
Just a question. Couldn't one use 2 straight pc's of flat
alum stock 1/4" x 6" or 8" and longer that the overall
dia of the tire and lay it up against the sidewall parallel,
cut two slots in them midway both front and rear so
the tape can slide in and out, to take the measurement ?

You'd need two panels with four slots altogether of
course, but it seems like it might be a lil easier.
yup, but once you do that you cant return the al anymore. hd took my angle aluminum back no problem
Old 08-24-2008, 12:24 AM   #7
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

^ Good point.
Old 09-05-2008, 05:20 PM   #8
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

You can also check the measurments across before the spindle install,then return the measurments to the same after then get it aligned.
Old 09-07-2008, 03:07 PM   #9
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Quote: Originally Posted by jtcfanof3
You can also check the measurments across before the spindle install,then return the measurments to the same after then get it aligned.
not always.
for example the belltech drop spindles push your track width out a bit.
so the measurements will be that much wider
Old 09-07-2008, 03:31 PM   #10
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Ok,kool,got ya,I guess if you were redoing stuff stock too stock you could do it my way.
Thanks for the info guy,Im gonna put on drop spindles very soon so...........
Great write up!
Old 09-10-2008, 11:41 PM   #11
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

i usually center the str wheel and do what i call a string alignment

hook the string on the inside of the rear wheel (shock mount) and pull it up the the frt wheel. keep string in center of wheel. adj toe accordinly, looking at rear of frt wheel space between the wheel and string. go to other side. not as precise as yours but will get you in the balllpark.
Old 03-17-2012, 02:17 PM   #12
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Just did this and got 0* of toe after about an hour. With my Beltech spindles installed I hat toe out of almost 2"! With the help of this, I got everything squared away and the truck drives well enough now for me to have it aligned.
Old 03-21-2012, 07:22 PM   #13
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Re: [How-to] set your toe alignment at home

Great thread!

I'm installing some Belltech spindles tomorrow. I know when I installed them in my 01 Xtreme Blazer it was toe'd out like a mofo!
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