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Old 02-27-2011, 12:53 AM   #42 (permalink)
Engineering first
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I've been tweaking our NHW11, 2003 Prius to achieve four-wheel, near perfect alignment:
  • front camber - use a camber bolt bought from the Toyota parts department.
  • rear toe and camber - use EZ-shim

I have not detected any noticeable change in handling or fuel efficiency. The main advantage is getting all the miles out of the tires.

For handling, my greatest improvement has come using larger diameter, front tires. The larger gyroscopic forces slightly improved straight-line stability ... noticeable on long distance trips.

Bob Wilson

ps. Before EZ-shim, I used metal shims:

Metal shims are used in pairs. One to handle toe on one side and another pair on the opposite side to handle camber. It works but I don't like the unsealed gaps that can accumulate road salt.
2019 Std. Range Plus Model 3 - 134 MPG3 || 2014 BMW i3-REx - 117 MPGe, 39 MPG
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Last edited by bwilson4web; 02-27-2011 at 10:05 AM..
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:04 PM   #43 (permalink)
Honda Insight Driver
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Thumbs up Twitchy Insight

Originally Posted by bootchk View Post
Honda CRX also calls for zero toe-in +- .08 inch.

How uncommon is zero toe-in?

I can attest to Insight twitchy, but mostly on grooved pavement.
One cure for the "twitchy" on grooved pavement it to change the rear wheel spacing. It turns out that the rear wheels are spaced just right to get "caught" in the "standard" grooves in the Concrete US Interstate Highway system. Another Insight owner showed me his solution and I adopted it. It really made a big difference.

Just place a 1/8" spacer under both rear wheels. That will increase the rear stance by just 1/4" which will not affect the rear skirts, but it will make a world of difference in the "twitchyness" of the 1st generation Honda Insight.

The tire shop will not like it and will remove the spacers when you get new tires, so make sure to ask for them back so you can replace them when you get home!!!
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:40 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Smile negative gravity

G'day all.
Only my second post so be kind please but I have been following this thread and feel I am qualified to pass comment.
I started my training 25 yrs ago (and it still continues) as an Automotive Technician.I have been doing Wheel alignments for the most part.
Here 'Down-Under' things work just the same, despite being upside down and on the correct side of the road. lol.
Some of the following may be arguementitive however, other alignment angles aside, manufactures specs for toe-in are not generally related to handling.
They are, indeed, a direct attempt to 'neutralize' the effects of dynamic loading of steering and suspension components.
Without 'toe' adjustment (in or out) deflection caused rubber bushings, 'road-drag' (rolling resistance), braking and 'Drive-loading' (front wheel drives) cannot be compensated for.
Each vehicle does, indeed, have its own characteristics as does every driver.
As with every manufactures spec that gives a tolerance you can expect to have situations that require using setting to the lower or upper end of the scale.
Since us Ecomodders tend to drive conservatively then it could be expected that our wheel alignment setting could also be conservative.
So, might I suggest that, instead of crunching numbers, you have a look at how your tyres are wearing. The more friction (the 'Enemy') the more exaggerated or uneven your tyre wear will be. To the inner edge, lack of 'toe', to the outer edge, excessive toe. (other angles and driving habits aside remember!).
In other words, if you're are getting good mileage out of your rubber and the tyres are wearing flat then maybe your efforts toward better fuel economy could be more fruitful elsewhere.
Hope my comments help.........Matt
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:27 AM   #45 (permalink)
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Retired mechanic and body repair here. Mostly good information from everyone. I never paid to have the wheels aligned on any of my cars in the last decade, but I do carefully monitor tire wear, which is your best indicator of alignment condition.

On a 2006 Corolla the alignment was off at front and rear from the factory, and caused excess tire wear that was detectable before 10 k miles. After the run around at the selling dealer I took it to another dealer where a long time friend was service manager.

Ended up getting a free new set of tires, a replacement rear axle beam, and the mounting points for the rear axle "tweaked" by a frame shop ( I paid nothing) at 20 k miles.

That was on a brand new car with 6 miles on the odometer when I bought it brand new.

The last two (of 3) cars I bought were wrecked when I bought them. Neither have been aligned. The first was my VX and the right rear wheel camber was way off due to frame damage. When the frame was properly repaired the wheel alignment was correct. Nothing on the suspension had been impacted in the collision, the car tracked perfect and the tire wear was less than 10 thousandths of a inch difference after 20 k miles on all 4 tires!

The second car was my current Altima Coupe, which was hit in the rear and driven into another car in the front. It was totalled but had no damage that affected the drive ability and suspension, so it has not been aligned. The tires are wearing evenly and I see no reason to pay for an unnecessary alignment.

If you have a REASON to do an alignment or can get one done cheap or free, then it may be worth it to check and adjust. I owned an Insight and it would "track" on our grooved interstates but it was not that bad.

IF you have an alignment done, the nit would probably be best to get it "set" to the minimum toe (closest to 0) and camber as well as maximum Castor if camber and Castor are even adjustable. Realize that camber and Castor may be different from one side to the other to keep the car tracking straight on crowned roads.

If you are experiencing uneven tire wear, or your car does not track straight, then you should make sure every component of the suspension and steering is in good condition before spending money on alignments.

Lots of cars do not have provisions for adjustment of Castor and camber, only toe. If that is the case and you know everything is in good shape then you can adjust the toe yourself with various methods already suggested.

One thing that is crucial is to make sure the rack and pinion is centered before you adjust anything. Check your steering wheel lock to lock and mark the exact center position. Then Lock the wheel in that place and make sure it is in the same position after your adjustments and the car tracks straight with the wheel centered. The tie rod adjustments should be the same length on both sides once this is done or you have something bent.


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