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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I had the truck aligned this morning, well my wife did because I was working, but when I got home for lunch I swapped cars with her and took the truck back to work. I Immediately notice that the steering wheel is cocked to the left but the truck is pulling to the right. I call the wife, she calls the shop, she calls me back and says, "the guy said let me guess your steering wheel is crooked." So after work I race down there and try and squeeze it in before they close. As they start I say, hey I'll need a prinout of that as well(my wife had asked them for one but they claimed the printer was broke, hmmm). Job complete and it was explained to me that the left caster had to be adjusted out to keep it from pulling to the right. Then it was explained to me that the rear numbers are off but that had to be done to correct the steering wheel. I was told although the numbers are out of whack it is tracking straight and I'll have no problems with wearing. Anyhow here is the printout so let me know what you all think.
 

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That alignment is, to put it mildly, really bad. The guy who did it ought to be ashamed of himself.

For a bit of background, I suggest readingPay particular attention to what caster is and why setting caster properly is critical.

Next, I suggest readingPay particular attention to post #2 in that thread (03-09-2006, 09:17 AM), as it explains why adjusting camber and caster is difficult on a Tundra unless the proper Hunter equipment is properly used, in which case it's a piece o' cake, and as it explains why alignment technicians who don't know what they don't know frequently get it wrong.

Next, I suggest readingPay particular attention to post #2 in that thread (04-19-2003, 11:00 AM), as it explains why Toyota's alignment specs ought not to be trusted at face value, and why I have long recommended settings that are different from Toyota's "nominal settings" for caster.

Now, to specifics.

Your alignment shows +1.11 degrees of left caster and +1.77 degrees of right caster. The difference is -0.66 degrees, meaning it has 2/3 degree more caster on the right than on the left. I would expect the truck to pull strongly to the left with those settings, and I would expect it to be unstable (meaning it vibrates) under some conditions, such as during heavy braking.

Your alignment shows +0.37 degrees of left camber and +0.08 degrees of right camber. The difference is +0.29 degrees, meaning the left wheel leans outward but the right wheel is nearly vertical.

Left and right caster should be the same, and left and right camber should be the same. A small difference left-to-right is to be expected, as the adjustedments cannot be made perfectly. Usually, about 0.10 to 0.15 is fine, but I would complain about a bigger difference.

Total toe looks fine.

Ignore the rear wheel alignment as it is not adjustable anyway.

So, what is going on here? As I noted in the posts that I pointed you to above, the guy who did this likely is afflicted with one or more of the following problems:
  • He doesn't know that each adjustment cam for a given wheel adjusts both camber and caster, so he doesn't know how to get one adjusted correctly and then get the other adjusted correctly. Without using the CAMM software tool that is built into Hunter alignment consoles, it is a nightmare. Using the CAMM software, it is easy, and requires 5 - 10 minutes per wheel.
  • He doesn't have Hunter alignment equipment.
  • He has Hunter alignment equipment but has not been properly trained in its use, particularly in the use of the CAMM software.
  • He does not understand what caster is for, and so does not understand why it is critical to set it properly.
My recommended settings for all 2000 - 2006 Tundras and Sequoias are:
  • Set camber and total toe dead on Toyota's recommended settings for your vehicle.
  • Set caster right at the upper end of the range that Toyota's specs for your vehicle allow.
This provides the maximum steering stability that Toyota's specs can provide. Because these settings are within the tolerances that Toyota provides for your vehicle, neither Toyota nor your alignment shop has any grounds to object to them.

But you might have to find a different shop to get it right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you sir, thats the response I was looking for. I watched the guy do the alignment and about midway through he got a call on his celly. While talking on his cell he managed to read the machine, make adjustments, and take it on two test drives. When voicing my opinion I was told it would be fine and align up just right, scary. The vehicle is actually tracking fine, not like before(I installed wheels, larger tires, and a lift), but I have this sense that something just ain't right. Thinking of taking it to another shop this weekend. Again thanks for the response.
 

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The caster is "live" in the measurements and adjustments screen but as soon as you print it will go back to it original "caster sweep" measurements. So the final printout may not be exactly what the final specs are until a final caster sweep is done.

If toe is out it will affect the caster measurement as well. This is especially important because there is a LOT of movement in the lower control arm. Toe must always be brought back to spec to get DECENT LIVE measurements. Once the tech thinks hes got caster and camber nailed...adjust toe to be close. Then a final sweep must be done with toe at least in the green, then adjust final toe after setting the steering straight one final time.

I agree the software like wintoe and the camm program work well on a stock vehicle, from the beginning i didn't like it because the machine goes haywire if you can't adjust back to stock. Like on a Lifted truck or lowered car. And you have to make your adjustments slowly, loosen one at a time. Tighten it back up. If you try to do both at the same time the machine can't really keep up and you can actually throw the compensation of the heads out. I just align it from the bar graph screen, 20-25 mins/alignment.

I agree with DJ above though, thats not a good alignment. Theres no reason to have that much spread side to side on these trucks, there is a lot of adjustment in those eccentrics. Though you do have to sneak up on the alignment. Its not a step 1-2-3 sort of thing.

The rear is not adjustable, it is a little skewed, but total toe is ok so you won't wear tires. The machine uses the rear as a reference for the front so it will correct the front end to track directly in front of the rear axle.

I did not read through DJ's posts about alignments but i set lifted trucks with these specs...

Camber - as close to 0* as possible, probably about .1* or .2*
Caster - as high as possible, but usually hits the factory spec right on, may be slightly less.

I used to set it up with the highest caster possible and let camber stay at the positive end of spec. But i had a couple customers complain of twitchy or sensitive steering on the highway. The truck would grab onto ruts and "dive" into them.I thought caster promoted stability and "straightforwardness" I reversed my thinking and set camber to 0 or .1* for the toughest of customers and had him call my cell from the exact stretch of highway he drove every morning. After going to neutral camber and getting highest allowable caster I've had no complaints. Ive done a handful of 6" lifts with 35"x12.50" tires as well, if anything should follow ruts and wander itd be those beasts.

Another quick note most reported "pulls" are actually steering wheels that are off center from a missed toe adjustment. Since the steering wheel is off center when the tires are straight the customer TURNS the wheel straight and holds it there, therefore TURNING the tires and they call that a pull.

Unless of course you've worked in a northern climate and get to do "curb kits" regularly !!

The rear is not adjustable, it is a little skewed, but total toe is ok so you won't wear tires. The machine uses the rear as a reference for the front so it will correct the front end to track directly in front of the rear axle.

Hope i've helped rather than confuse you. This is advice and not gospel !!
DJ does a good job of explaining things, me...not so much.
 

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OK, I've been reading this thread and the links because I just bought new tires and had my truck aligned. The old front tires wore on the outside edges unevenly and the truck pulled to the left. Now it tracks straight, but it feels sluggish (too much toe in?) It does feel more stable, but I'm worried about gas mileage and premature tire wear. Here are my specs (the printout is too faint to scan):
Front
Camber (L) -0.3 (R) -0.4
Cross Camber 0.1
Caster (L) 2.9 (R) 2.9
Cross Caster 0.1
SAI (L) 10.3 (R) 10.7
Cross SAI -0.5
Toe (L) 0.13 (R) 0.08
Total Toe 0.21

Rear
Camber (L) -0.2 (R) -0.1
Cross Camber 0.0
Toe (L) 0.03 (R) -0.03
Total Toe 0.00
Thrust angle 0.03

Any advice would be appreciated before I bring it back to the shop. Are these within Toyota specs? What should be adjusted and to what? (DJ's Alignment Specs of course?)
Craig
 

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The caster is "live" in the measurements and adjustments screen but as soon as you print it will go back to it original "caster sweep" measurements. So the final printout may not be exactly what the final specs are until a final caster sweep is done.
Yup. It prints only what is measured by a caster sweep, because otherwise an unscrupulous technician could make "live caster" read whatever he wants by tilting the sensors, then print it, and claim that all was well when it's not. Can't have that, can we?

[...]

I agree the software like wintoe and the camm program work well on a stock vehicle, from the beginning i didn't like it because the machine goes haywire if you can't adjust back to stock. Like on a Lifted truck or lowered car.
WinToe works well and properly on all vehicles, as nothing in the software of WinToe takes into account exactly what vehicle is being aligned.

WinToe relies on the simple observation that, while adjusting individual toe of one wheel, the change made in toe of that wheel is the same as the change made in total toe of that axle, but total toe doesn't change if the steering wheel is steered slightly away from straight ahead. So, by watching total toe while adjusting individual toe, one wheel at a time, there is no need to lock the steering wheel straight ahead and there is no sensitivity to steering it slightly off straight ahead. That's a BIG advantage when loosening stuck tie rod bolts. And, it works on all vehicles.

And you have to make your adjustments slowly, loosen one at a time. Tighten it back up. If you try to do both at the same time the machine can't really keep up and you can actually throw the compensation of the heads out. I just align it from the bar graph screen, 20-25 mins/alignment.
When using CAMM, you are SUPPOSED to adjust only one adjustment cam at a time. You adjust one cam to center the bar graph on the CAMM display, then hit the soft key to tell the software to switch to the other adjustment cam, then adjust the other adjustment cam, and so on. If you wish, you can adjust the first cam, then the second cam, then the first cam again, then the second cam again, and thereby "walk the adjustments in" as needed. On my Tundra, CAMM has always nailed each cam the first time.

[...]

I used to set it up with the highest caster possible and let camber stay at the positive end of spec. But i had a couple customers complain of twitchy or sensitive steering on the highway. The truck would grab onto ruts and "dive" into them.I thought caster promoted stability and "straightforwardness" I reversed my thinking and set camber to 0 or .1* for the toughest of customers and had him call my cell from the exact stretch of highway he drove every morning. After going to neutral camber and getting highest allowable caster I've had no complaints.

[...]
Which is why that's what I recommend. Neutral camber and high caster gives very good stability on a Tundra and Sequoia.

This is advice and not gospel !!
DJ does a good job of explaining things, me...not so much.
Thanks for the support. The reason I know how WinToe and CAMM work is that I invented CAMM, co-invented WinToe, and wrote the software by which they work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
DJ, so I'm not quite confused just not quite clear. If i have them align to your recommended specs I am assuming(I'm sure) that the truck will be dead on aligned? What about the steering wheel being crooked, what caused that?

I contacted the Toyota dealership again and was told because the truck is lifted they simply align it to Tundra specs and that wouldn't be correct. I then asked if they would align it to specs that I brought in and after consulting the technician he said no problem however the machine they have(apparently the newest model of Hunter) they have only had for 2 weeks and although the technician has worked with it previously he isn't efficient with it and could get aligned to the specs I bring in but would take him longer costing me more money.

I'm thinking of taking it back to the other place and giving them a third try, 3 times a charm.
 

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DJ, so I'm not quite confused just not quite clear. If i have them align to your recommended specs I am assuming(I'm sure) that the truck will be dead on aligned? What about the steering wheel being crooked, what caused that?

I contacted the Toyota dealership again and was told because the truck is lifted they simply align it to Tundra specs and that wouldn't be correct. I then asked if they would align it to specs that I brought in and after consulting the technician he said no problem however the machine they have(apparently the newest model of Hunter) they have only had for 2 weeks and although the technician has worked with it previously he isn't efficient with it and could get aligned to the specs I bring in but would take him longer costing me more money.

I'm thinking of taking it back to the other place and giving them a third try, 3 times a charm.
What you get is not necessarily what you ask for or what you pay for. It ought to be, but don't count on it. Wheel alignment is relatively simple to perform, but it requires training to get it right, experience to do it quickly, and even more training to use the specific features of a particular alignment instrument. Many technicians are reluctant to admit that they lack training and/or experience, as such an admission jepardizes their income. Even worse, many service managers are very reluctant to admit that they don't know diddly about wheel alignment.

So, you have to search for a shop that provides good results without giving excuses for why it's really OK that they screwed up. The only way you have to verify the results is to check the printout they hand you. It will show the measurements made by the machine, which you can compare to the specifications you want.

As for "third time's a charm", I beg to differ. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over but expecting to get a different result. There is no reason to expect a particular shop to finally get it right just because they have tried and failed twice before. Such a shop would never see my vehicle again.

So, it might take some time and trying many shops before you find a good one. It requires good equipment, which is in good shape and calibrated, and a good technician to use it who is willing and proud of getting things right. Sometimes that's easy to find, sometimes it's not. You just have to keep looking.

Now, as to why you have a "crooked steering wheel" ...

A steering wheel should be level when the vehicle rolls along in a straight line. If it's not, the customer complains, and rightly so, as it is visible that it is wrong and it is irritating. Even worse, it is a clear indication that the "toe" alignment is not set properly, and toe being set improperly can wear tires out very quickly.

It might help to understand what "setting toe" is all about. So, here's a drink from a fire hose ...

"Toe" is the name used to describe the "pointing direction" of a wheel. Imagine that you are above the vehicle, looking down on it. Suppose the left front wheel points off to the right a bit and the right front wheel points off to the left a bit. If these were your feet instead of your front wheels, you would describe the condition as being "pigeon toed".

Now, while still looking down on the vehicle from above, draw a line through your left front wheel and parallel to it; this line is the "pointing direction" of that wheel, meaning it is the direction the wheel tries to roll. Draw a similar line through your right front wheel and parallel to it; this is the pointing direction of the right front wheel. With a truck such as yours, these two lines should meet somewhere way out in front of the vehicle. The angle between them is called "total toe".

Total toe is a very critical alignment setting. If the tires are "toed in" too much, meaning "very pigeon toed", or "toed out" too much, meaning the opposite, then the tires have to scrub a bit sideways as they roll along the road. If it's bad enough, this can wear the tread off in only a few hundred miles. If it's correct, as it is on mine, the tires can last a very long time. My wife's Sequoia is wearing her Michelins at the rate of 120,000 miles for the set. That ain't bad, no?

There is also the concept of "individual toe". That is the measurement of the angle between the pointing direction of a particular wheel and a reference axis. This gets a little sticky, but here goes. If you draw a line, as we did above, through the left rear wheel, which describes its pointing direction, and through the right rear wheel, which describes its pointing direction, these two lines meet somewhere. Let's suppose they also meet somewhere way out in front of the vehicle. They form an angle called "total rear toe". The line that bisects that angle, i.e. the line that divides it in half, is called the "thrust line". Why is that important here? The thrust line is the line down which the vehicle rolls when it rolls in a straight line, and so that line is the reference axis against which the individual toe angles of the front wheels are measured.

That's why alignment sensors are mounted on the rear wheels, even when the rear wheel alignment is not adjustable. The instruments must measure where the rear wheels point so they can also measure where the front wheels point.

Let's look at a very simple method for adjusting individual toe of the front wheels. Step one is to lock the steering wheel so it is straight and level, using a steering wheel clamp. Step two is to adjust the tie rod of the left front wheel, steering it so the individual toe measurement of the left front wheel is correct. Step three is to adjust the tie rod of the right front wheel so the individual toe measurement of the right front wheel is correct.

Now, consider what is desired. For the vehicle to roll along in a straight line, left individual front toe must be equal to right individual front toe. The steering wheel must be steered such that this is the case. If the steering wheel is straight and level when this is the case, then the steering wheel will be straight and level when the vehicle rolls along in a straight line. But, if either of these two adjustments are not made correctly, or the steering wheel is not level when they are made, then the steering wheel will have to be steered such that it is not straight and level to make the vehicle roll along in a straight line.

The bottom line is that the steering wheel is crooked when the vehicle rolls in a straight line if individual front toe adjustments are not made properly, meaning if the tie rods are not adjusted properly.

To put a fine political spin on it, "setting the toe" is ALWAYS the final step of EVERY alignment job. Getting it right is a "MUST". If the steering wheel is "crooked" when the vehicle rolls along in a straight line, then you can be assured of some combination of the following:
  • ... the technician was careless.
  • ... the technician was not properly trained.
  • ... the equipment was faulty.
  • ... the equipment was out of calibration.
There is NO excuse for a crooked steering wheel. NO EXCUSE. And, I would find another shop if they can't get it right on the second try.
 

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Tell the Toyota dealer these specs will help him align it FASTER. Don't let them charge you extra. The specs we have given you are actually achievable with a lifted truck, unlike the factory specs.

So the tech will have an easier time because hes not fighting to reach the factory specs.

DJ, I think now that I have developed my own specs for the lifted trucks I'm going to go back to using the software. I hope you don't feel like I was disputing the usefulness of the software...its fantastic if the specs are correct and with all the modified work I've done I just got into a habit of doing them on my own.

And I'll admit I wasn't aware of the fact that wintoe would allow me to move the wheels. That would be a HUGE point for the trainer/rep to put across. And hes been back several times and watched me align cars without the software and hasnt said a thing. Now i know !!

With stiff jamb nuts I just remembered the other toe spec after setting the wheel straight and then if the tire moved I pushed them back to that "remembered" spot. Then double checked my steering after my final caster sweep. I think you just helped me shave a few more minutes off my alignment times.

And I do understand how the CAMM works and that you do one adjuster at a time I was just trying to explain the DON'Ts if the person doesnt have the software to walk them through a dual cam adjustment procedure. Or if one of the members on the forum decides to watch their alignment tech do their job.

I can't let people think the machine does ALL the work. Some customers still think I just set it up and the computer adjusts the alignment for me (any programs with robotic wrenching arms in the works). Should I look for a new job soon ??

Looks like you've got the Alignment threads under control DJ, I'll stay out of your way now !!
 

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Tell the Toyota dealer these specs will help him align it FASTER. Don't let them charge you extra. The specs we have given you are actually achievable with a lifted truck, unlike the factory specs.

So the tech will have an easier time because hes not fighting to reach the factory specs.

DJ, I think now that I have developed my own specs for the lifted trucks I'm going to go back to using the software. I hope you don't feel like I was disputing the usefulness of the software...its fantastic if the specs are correct and with all the modified work I've done I just got into a habit of doing them on my own.

And I'll admit I wasn't aware of the fact that wintoe would allow me to move the wheels. That would be a HUGE point for the trainer/rep to put across. And hes been back several times and watched me align cars without the software and hasnt said a thing. Now i know !!

With stiff jamb nuts I just remembered the other toe spec after setting the wheel straight and then if the tire moved I pushed them back to that "remembered" spot. Then double checked my steering after my final caster sweep. I think you just helped me shave a few more minutes off my alignment times.

And I do understand how the CAMM works and that you do one adjuster at a time I was just trying to explain the DON'Ts if the person doesnt have the software to walk them through a dual cam adjustment procedure. Or if one of the members on the forum decides to watch their alignment tech do their job.

I can't let people think the machine does ALL the work. Some customers still think I just set it up and the computer adjusts the alignment for me (any programs with robotic wrenching arms in the works). Should I look for a new job soon ??

Looks like you've got the Alignment threads under control DJ, I'll stay out of your way now !!
The work is done by replacing shims, and by turning bolts, cams, and tie rods, but the machine doesn't have any hands. It doesn't do the work, YOU do the work.

The whole purpose of WinToe is to let you adjust tie rods without having to hold the steering wheel steady. Indeed, you should NOT use a steering wheel clamp when using it. So, if you steer the wheel a bit while turning a tie rod, that doesn't upset the display of your adjustment progress. Just follow the on-screen instructions.

Toe of my Tundra was adjusted only a week ago after I changed the steering rack bushings. Despite having a Hunter 811 console and DSP600 sensors, the alignment technician wasn't aware of features it had such as CAMM and WinToe. He was overjoyed when I showed him how to use them, and my steering wheel came out perfectly level.

Training is always the key issue, isn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
FOLLOW UP/make some sense of this alignment for me

So I take the truck back in today, different shop but same company. The first thing I ask is if the printer for the alignment machine is working and if I could get a copy at the end. Yes it's working and we'd be glad to give you a copy. Great. Then I show him the printout from the other shop and say, I have been told from a reliable source that this alignment is off. It not only pulls(slightly), but from these numbers it is not correct. I explain that the other shop worked on it twice to no prevail, and now I'd like them to align it for free under the companies warranty(not what he wanted to hear). He looks at the paper and responds, everything looks fine to me, and tries to explain the numbers to me(trying to lose me with fancy terms and wacky reasoning). I'll have a look though, off he goes for a test drive, then in the shop it goes, attaches the machine, and 30 minutes later all finished.

Sir, there is nothing wrong with this alignment. It drove perfectly on the test drive, the prinout you have is perfect, and my machine says it's straight. Really, well can I have a prinout from your machine so I can compare it and have someone else verify this. Well sir our printer is broken so I can't get that for you. After telling him that just 30 minutes ago he said there would be no problem giving me one he says, well grease tends to get into our machines and booger things up so although it was working earlier it now no longer works. Then it is explained to me that all vehicles slightly pull to the right, it's the law. They pull to the right to prevent head on collisions, if a driver were to fall asleep at the wheel the car would eventually pull to the right pulling the vehicle off the road. WOW, that was a first for me. I said well thanks for the info and left.

I'm gonna try the dealer next. They seem willing to do it although they aren't to sure how(lifted vehicles). They also seem to want to learn more about their new machine(hopefully not at my expense, re-thinking it).

Meanwhile the right front(obviously) tire has worn off all the little nubbies that are on a new tire all on the outside edge. The inside still has the nubbies. The left tire has got both in and outside nubbies. I need to remedy this quick.
 

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Re: FOLLOW UP/make some sense of this alignment for me

Then it is explained to me that all vehicles slightly pull to the right, it's the law. They pull to the right to prevent head on collisions, if a driver were to fall asleep at the wheel the car would eventually pull to the right pulling the vehicle off the road. WOW, that was a first for me. I said well thanks for the info and left.
LMAO! I'm gonna hafta pass that one on to the local shop I use :clown:...hadn't heard that one before :D.
jasonrmorrow said:
I can't let people think the machine does ALL the work. Some customers still think I just set it up and the computer adjusts the alignment for me (any programs with robotic wrenching arms in the works). Should I look for a new job soon ??
I'm surprised more people don't just think the truck's supposed to drive itself :p. As long as there are people who modify their vehicles, or use their vehicles for different purposes--hauling vs show truck vs dd--there will be a need for different alignments, and IMO only a human knows how to make sense of the data and align a modified truck. If we didn't all use them so different, everything would come locked down from the factory and nobody would be getting alignments.

-Sean
 
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