DIY ALIGNMENT

While off-road it is not unusual for a vehicles alignment to drift off. If you have any distance to drive home, it may well be beneficial to do a quick toe alignment before setting off. There are two simple ways of adjusting the toe to get it close to spec, certainly close enough to prevent any major tire wear before you can have an alignment done professionally.

Adjusting the camber and caster is somewhat more difficult although it can be adjusted in the field if need be, but we'll focus on adjusting the toe which can be done by anybody with some basic tools.

Quick Method 1 (Two People)
You will need two people, a tape measure and some wrenches to adjust your tie rods. This method is the simplest and takes 10-30 minutes depending on how many adjustments need to be made.

First, turn the engine on and center the steering wheel, then turn the engine off. Select a point on a front tire half way up, Figure 1 - A, one person should hold the end of a tape measure at this point, the other person should have the end of the tape measure by the rear tire about 12" away from it. Keeping the tape measure tensioned, the person by the rear tire should slowly move the tape measure towards the rear tire, the person at the front should be watching the tape measure for it to touch the rear of the front tire at Figure 1 - B.

If that wheel is aligned correctly the tape measure will be touching Figure 1 A & B and the same spot on the rear tire at the same time. If this is not the case that front wheel will need to be adjusted at the tie rod until all three points line up.

To adjust the toe, simply loosen the lock nut on the tie rod and rotate the tie rod shaft. Once you have all three points lined up, start the engine, rotate the steering wheel both ways, center again, then turn off the engine. Check again that all three points line up. If so, repeat for other side of vehicle.

Once both sides of the vehicle have been done, measure the front edge of the front tires from the outside edge of one to the outside edge of the other, Figure 2 - B Repeat for the rear edge of the front tires, Figure 2 - B. Both measurements should be the same. If not adjust the tie rods accordingly.

Once completed, test drive the vehicle, if it pulls slightly one way or another adjust both tie rods the same amount to straighten the wheels out, usually only 1/4 of a turn is required.

Remember to tighten the tie rod locking nut once everything is complete. For test drives it is advisable to at least finger tighten it.

Note: If you have sidewall lugs, you will have take your measurements from the same lug on the front and rear edges. If you have a spindle type lift kit (Fabtech, Rancho, etc), the front track will be wider than the rear. You will have to make a visual assesment that the tape measure touching Figure 1 A & B is parallel to the vehicle, as it will not line up with the rear tire. If you have a vehicle with different front and rear track widths, you will also need to use this method.

Quick Method 2 (One Person)
You will need only one person, a tape measure, a plumb bob, masking tape, a pencil, and some wrenches to adjust your tie rods. This method is a little more complex than Method 1, but is more accurate and takes 20-60 minutes depending on how many adjustments need to be made.

First, turn the engine on and center the steering wheel, then turn the engine off. Select a point on a front tire half way up, Figure 1 - A, place some masking tape on the floor directly below this point, hold the plumb bob to the tire and mark the tape where the plumb stop touches the tape. Repeat for front and rear edges of front tires and front edge of rear tire, Figure 2 - A. Make sure you hold the plumb bob to the same place on each tire.

Once all six marks have been made, measure the distance between the front tires, front and rear edges, Figure 2 - B. Adjust tie rods until these are equal. Start engine, turn wheels both ways and center again. Check the measurements again.

To adjust the toe, simply loosen the lock nut on the tie rod and rotate the tie rod shaft. Once you have all three points lined up, start the engine, rotate the steering wheel both ways, center again, then turn off the engine. Check again that all three points line up. If so, repeat for other side of vehicle.

Using a long straight object, tape measure, piece of string (two people), or a laser line marker, make sure all point A's on both sides of the vehicle line up. Line up the two front point A's and see if the rear one lines up. If not, adjust both tie rods by the same amount until all three points line up on each side.

Once done, test drive the vehicle, if it pulls slightly one way or another adjust both tie rods the same amount to straighten the wheels out, usually only 1/4 of a turn is required.

Remember to tighten the tie rod locking nut once everything is complete. For test drives it is advisable to at least finger tighten it.

Note: If you have sidewall lugs, you will have take your measurements from the same lug on the front and rear edges. If you have a spindle type lift kit (Fabtech, Rancho, etc), the front track will be wider than the rear. You will have to measure from the rear point A to the line made from the two front point A's and make sure it is the same distance for each side of the vehicle. If you have a vehicle with different front and rear track widths, you will also need to use this method.

Click on an image below to enlarge


Figure 1

Figure 2


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Note: The information on this page is offered for guidance purposes only and is not a recommendation that anyone perform any task described. Consult a qualified technician before performing any work on your vehicle. Any task performed based upon this information is at your own risk. The Hummer X Club, it's members and affiliates, this web site, the creators, owners, contributors to this web site, advertisers or sponsors of events, and any other individual or organization involved with the information provided do not take any responsibility whatsoever for any damage, either directly or indirectly, that may occur based on the information provided. You perform any task described on this web site at your own risk and assume responsibility for your own actions.


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