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3 essential alignment terms, explained

Handling is a word you will read frequently in the automotive world. Journalists, race car drivers, and manufacturer reps will debate the handling nuances between different models to no end, referring to subframe bushings and spring rates and how exactly the actuation of power steering may effect a car's behavior. Despite the infinite array of technical terms, most of the time a car's handling character is determined by three steering adjustments.


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Great article on alignment.  Most people never liked geometry in HS, some never 'got it'.

But alignment, front and rear, is all about geometric angles, whether measured in degrees or fractions of an inch.

I would disagree with the statement "Race cars ..... may use zero or even mildly negative camber because those angles keep more of the tire in contact with the road during a corner." 

The amount of camber angle in race cars is very aggressive, not mild.

Using my 2013 Corvette Grand Sport as an example, for street use I have it set at -0.5° negative camber.  That is all it needs to achieve a very good balance of handling AND tire wear. 

From the factory, the camber is set at about -1.0° negative camber; which is too much for normal street use, and will result in accelerated inside edge tread wear, especially the rear tires.  Corvette Team sets it that way figuring us Grand Sport, Z06 and ZR1 owners will drive aggressively.  Not all of us do, however.  I don't, I just like the GS wide body. 

My OE Gdyr rear tires wore out in 12,000 miles with 2/32 inside tread depth, 6-7/32 outside tread depth remaining.  The effect of camber, whether negative or positive, on those 12 inch wide tires at the outer edges is significant. 

If I were to 'track' my GS all the time, camber would be set to about -1.5°, maybe -2.0° negative camber, depending on the track.  That is not mild. 

As a matter of fact, Corvette Racing in the IMSA Series, and Corvette teams in the Trans Am Series, most chassis are set to about -2.0° negative camber.

A lot of times you can actually see the amount of negative camber the Nascar guys use on the right front, and positive camber on the left front...very aggressive angles.


With kind regards,

Mike Waal

Chestertown, MD

retired tire & rubber guy, 40 years in the industry, 1/3 of those with Michelin