Caster, Camber and Toe
While driving innocently on your way to home from work, you are met with an unfriendly pothole that results in you having to change your tyre. Your next stop is to have your wheels aligned, but what does that actually mean? Wheel alignment is one of the most essential factors required to ensure safety, traction, performance and stability when driving. While having your wheels aligned, you might hear them talk about the caster, camber and toe suspension angle of your wheels. Today we are breaking wheel alignment down to the basics for you.
Out-of-alignment conditions wear your tyres more rapidly, and makes for abnormal driving by altering the stability, performance, handling, cornering, traction and so much more, when you drive. There are multiple reasons for out-of-alignment causes, but the most important thing to note is that you should keep an eye on it. Wheel alignment has a direct impact on your safety, those in the car with you, and by default, other motorists sharing the road.
Caster is the angle created by a forward or backward slope through the upper and lower pivot points of your vehicles suspension system. It is also measured in degrees, and will measure negatively if the wheel slopes forward, and positive if it slopes backward. A healthy caster angle will grant you stability at high speeds and effective front-end cornering - more so if the amount of positive angle is increased a little.
Camber is the vertical angle of your wheel, also measured in degrees. The camber should be at zero, which is also known as zero camber, and if this is not the case, your wheels should be aligned. If the wheel is tilting inward, this is considered negative and is calculated by the amount of degrees depending on the severity of the tilt. In the same way, if your wheel is tilted outward vertically it is considered positive and the amount of degrees can be calculated. Although manufacturers prefer that camber is at zero, some drivers prefer to have their wheels aligned a little into the negative (meaning, inward) as this grants the driver better handling and an increase in grip when turning. When modifying the camber, they should still have substantial traction. If you have a zero-camber alignment you will achieve better longevity of your tyres, as they will have even traction.
Toe is the position in which the tyre is angled inward or outward, that is determined by viewing it from the top, figuratively speaking. It is when the wheel is aligned inward and outward, diagonally. A positive toe, also known as toe-in, is when the front of both tyres begin to face each other and minimizes the turning ability of your vehicle when driving, yet it ensures you drive straighter. Rear wheel drive vehicles are designed to be slightly positive for rolling resistance-stability. Negative toe, also known as toe-out, is when the front of both tyres are faced away from each other – literally, outward. Front wheel drive vehicles are designed to be slightly negative for drag and level driving at high speeds-performance. The disadvantage of an excessively positive or negative toe will cause the tyres to wear on their edges.
Vehicle tyre alignments are designed by manufactures with specific settings for optimal and safe driving. We advise that our readers consult a professional when they desire to modify their alignment in any way.
Transcribed by: Ashley Roos
Edited by: Belinda Anderson