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Car Setup

Wheel Alignment

Wheel Alignment

Engineers design cars with wheels that are not actually placed straight upside-down against the road. They are intentionally set in an angle. There are three angles: Camber, Castor and Toe.

Camber is closely related to body roll. When a tire is positively cambered, it is “spread” aside so that it is actually leaning into the road with it’s inside shoulder. Why? Would that not make the tire have less grip? Yes, it would. But where? On the straight! When you turn, the car’s body is going to generate a “roll” angle and the tire is going to be affected by that angle and the camber angle would make it stand straight against the road surface. This means in a corner, the tire is at full grip where it would instead lose grip if the tire had 0 camber. The camber is opposite to the roll angle, so they neutralize one another, giving the car grip in corners instead of in straights.

Castor is the angle in which the tire contacts the road when you look at the tire from the side. You can see a castor angle on the wheels of your shopping trolley. More castor equals more cornering grip, but it makes for more wear and heavier steering.

Toe is the angle of the tire when you look at in an an “X-ray” vision through the car. A tire with “toe-out” seemed to be turning away from the car, as if you turned the wheel. A tire with “toe-in” is facing towards the center of the car. “Toe-out” is going to create a stable car, which is important in long, fast straights. Stability is of value in straight lines, but when you want to turn into a corner, you’ll probably interpret that stability as the car “refusing” to go around.

So, toe-out give straight-line stability, but makes the car resistant to turn-in. This is a good stage to remind you that you can set a different alignment to the rear and front. For instance, rear toe-in is likely to make the rear of the car “loose” which helps turning into corners, but makes the car too “sharp” within the corner and increases the risk of a spin or oversteer. Not very effective.

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