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Wheel alignment and fitment

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There is a lot of confusion when it comes to wheels, especially fitment. Understanding camber, caster and toe can be difficult. Here's a useful guide to give you the basics of it, so that you at least understand what wheels cope with and what wheel alignment is, so that next time you talk about that you have a clue of how it works.


CAMBER

This is the most widely discussed element out of the three. Camber angle represents the measure in degrees between the difference of vertical alignment when compared to the road surface. If it's exactly perpendicular, the camber would be 0. Negative camber is when the top of the tires tilt inward toward the fender walls, and positive is the opposite of that.

As negative camber looks cool and the car squats, it is becoming appealing with many of today's tuning communities.However it's real advantages can be seen in handling. As the car loads during cornering on one side, the wheel will tilt too and gain all of it's possible grip during cornering, increasing turning capabilities. However, as the car will have less grip when accelerating in a straight line, you do sacrifice something for all that cornering prowess.





CASTER

Caster is harder to explain,but it's essentially the angle created by the steering's pivot point from the front of the vehicle to the back. If the wheels are angled forward it's positive, else it's negative.

To increase the vehicle stability at high speeds, positive caster is applied. Although this increases steering effort.

Most road vehicles have cross-caster. Cross castered vehicles have different caster and camber, which cause the vehicle to drift a little bit to the right while rolling. As most of the countries drive on the right side of the road, this is implemented as a safety feature so that drivers who have lost steering control will steer into the hard shoulder or embankment instead of oncoming traffic.




TOE

Toe is easiest to visualize. It is the angle of the tires pointing inward or outward when viewed from above. It's easy to visualize because it's basically what you would see if you looked at your own feet when walking, and imagined moving your toes in or out.

Positive toe is when the front of both tires faces each other. Positive toe increases straight line stability, sacrificing turning performance.

Rear wheel drive cars usually use more positive tow in the rear due to rolling resistance. This straightens out the wheels at speed compensating for the drag in suspension arms, reducing tire wear.

Negative toe is used for the opposite reason in front wheel drive cars. A negative toe will compensate for the inward pulling of the suspension arm, in turn solving the same problem but with a different approach.

Negative toe on the front tires increases turning ability, as the wheels are pointing slightly outward and are ready to turn-in. This decreases straight line stability however, as any slight twitch or indication a turn in the steering wheel means the car naturally wants to turn in, even though you're on a straight. 

Here on Bean Garage we have lots of wheels on offer, such as 3SDM and Cosmis, so feel free to check them out.





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