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Caster Camber Setup

Caster/Camber Gauge Operation

Camber and caster can be adjusted on some vehicles(GM Renegades/Stock 8, and Limited Sportsman type cars) by the use of shims. In this case, shims are used to move the control arm farther inward or outward. Two groups of shims are used, one at the front of the control arm shaft and one at the rear. This allows the control arm to be moved in the inboard or outboard directions to change camber without changing caster.If the shims are moved from only one end of the control arm, caster and camber will change simultaneously, as the control arm is now moving both in an inboard/outboard direction, and in a forward/rearward direction.

Take note that in Figure 1 the control arm shaft is on the outboard side of the frame. Some vehicles mount the shaft to the inboard side of the frame. With the shaft on the inboard side of the frame, the exact opposite results would occur with regard to shim placement.

Shims are available in various thicknesses to accommodate the changes needed. These types of "U" shaped shims may be stacked, with the limit being the length of the bolt, or, obviously, no shim at all. If your bolt is "filled up" with shims or has no shim at all, where you once did, you had better start looking for a bent part. A normal alignment adjustment should never require very drastic corrections.

Important Notes:
  • Always read at the center of the bubble.
  • Camber is marked in 1/4 +(positive) and -(negative)
  • Turn wheels 20 to R & L when setting caster
  • Find a flat, level place to set up your front end!


  • Straighten your wheels.
  • Attach the gauge to the spindle. You will need to remove the dust cover from the spindle, and make sure that the cotter pin if out of the way. Clean the surface of the spindle where the gauge will attach. If you have a magnetic adapter, be sure that the surface you attach to is machined square to the spindle and doesn't have any nicks or burrs. With the thread-on type adapter be certain the spindle threads are free of burrs. Usually there are a few extra threads on the spindle. If not, you will need to remove the spindle nut and install the adapter in its place.
  • Rotate the gauge until the small vial at the end of the gauge shows level.
  • Read the camber directly on one of the two vials on either side of the gauge. Note that they are marked + and - . Read the line nearest to the center of the bubble. Each line is 1/4. Write this down, as reference.
  • To read caster, first turn the wheels 20 OUT so that the front of the tire is farther from the car. If you are positioned in front of the wheel.. the front of the tire will be towared you! If you don't have a set of turning plates you can use the angles machined on the corners of the gauge to determine 20. Turn the wheels so that the angle near the adapter end is square with the side of the car and the angle at the other end is parallel to the side of the car. Rotate the gauge until it is level.
  • Turn the knurled knob in the center until the caster part of the gauge reads 0. Now turn the wheels back to 20 the opposite way. The front of the wheels should be AWAY from you, if you are sitting in front of the wheel. Rotate the gauge again to level and read the caster on the center vial (read to the center of the bubble). Each line is 1/2. Note the setting.
  • Adjust the caster and camber as needed. Each time you make a change bounce on the front end to settle the suspension. Remove the gauge and reinstall the spindle nut as needed.
    Note: Adjusting the caster may have an effect on the camber and vice versa. Double check all your settings before finishing. Be sure to tighten all suspension bolts when done.

NOTE - If you are using stock steering(no quickeners, etc).. turning the wheel one round should be CLOSE to 20.
Posted by Wayne Clayton

 

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2002

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