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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I thought this would be better used here in Stance as these are the members that are more likely to do their own alignment. Mods if you want it moved or stickied please do so.

So I've been aksed many times how to do this and now I'm sharing. At this point this is only for toe settings only. Once I build a camber measuring tool, I can add that. But seeing as how the Focus only has factory adjustable tow settings this will help 90% of you out there. Also this how to was written setting the car to 0* of toe. Once I find a inch to degree conversion chart I will add it. Then you can set your tow in/out for more performance settings.

Tools needed:
planks of wood (if you have a car lowered more than 1.5")
18mm box end wrench
19mm socket wrench
7/8" open end wrench
2 pairs of jack stands (one pair works, but two is better)
10#-15# fishing line
ruler with 1/64" measurements Here's the one I use. http://www.lowes.com/pd_186495-56005-300/1_0__?productId=1053217&Ntt=ruler&pl=1&currentURL=/pl__0__s?Ntt=ruler

Time:
The first time it will take you about 2 hours, after practice you should be able to do it in just under a hour.

Hint's:
*HAVE A PEN A PAPER HANDY TO WRITE DOWN ALL YOUR INFO
*You need a level piece of concrete to do this on. So if you don't have a garage it will be hard to get an accurate alignment.
*A second person to measure while you adjust helps on the rear.
*Also having a second person hold the steering wheel while you work on the front helps.
*Also the measurements stated in this write-up only works for cars with 4 matching wheels. Different offsets, lip depths, and spacers will effect the setup of the string.
*Having the tires sitting on a set of slidders provides the most accurate measurement. You can fashion a set out of putting two 1'x1' pieces of sheet metal together with teflon grease between them.


Step 1: Tie the fishing line off on the two jack stands making sure the string is strung about 6"-12" past each wheel. (if your car is to low to crawl under and reach the adjusters, you want to park your car on blocks of wood under all 4 tires. This will lift the car while keeping it level)



Step 2: Adjust the height of the string so it sits at the halfway point of the wheel.



Step 3: This is the most important part of the whole job. You have to set the string to the track width of the Focus. (these measurements only work with a 99-11 Focus. Other cars will have a different track width) The rear wheels on the Focus sit in 10/32" in further total than the front. So each wheel will sit in 10/64" further that the front.

So measure from the center cap of the front wheel and set the string at 2" ( you can set it at whatever you want 2" just works well for me)



Then you set the string at 2 10/64" from the center cap on the rear wheel. (again use whatever measurement you want, as long as the rear is 10/64" further away than the front.



You may have to run back n forth adjusting the stands a few times because when you move the front, you'll adjust the rear and vise versa. This is where having two sets of jack stands is nice. Setting them up takes a while so not having to set one side then tear it down and do the other makes it easier.

Step 4: Now that the string is set you take your ruler and measure the front lip of the wheel to the string, then the back lip to the string.

Front lip



Back lip



To set your tow to 0* you want the measurements on the front and back lips to match. Toe in would be if the front lip was further from the string. Toe out would be if the back lip was further in.

Step 5: Once you know if you need to adjust you crawl under the car and make your adjustments.

Adjusting the rear:

Using the 18,, box end wrench loosen the nut on the LCA.



Then use your 19mm socket to turn the bolt on the other side to adjust your toe. Adjust accordingly to your measurements and then check (this is where a second person helps). The bolt has a cam on the inside of the LCA and that is what adjust your toe.



Once you have your toe set to the desired settings you tighten the but back down. Watch this little slot on the end of the bolt to make sure the bolt does not turn while tightening the nut back down.



Adjusting the Front:

Use your 7/8" open end wrench to loosen the lock nut on the toe end. Then turn the steering rod with your hand to adjust your toe. (having someone hold the steering wheel helps insure you don't move the wheel while working.) Same as the rear make your adjustments, then check your settings with the ruler. Once you have your settings, tighten the lock nut back down.






And thats that. You just saved yourself $50-$150. This is a very accurate system and rivals a computer alignment.
 

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Re: How To: DIY alignment

Good write up!!!! Thanks for this!!!! Still need mine done, will definitely use this to do mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Re: How To: DIY alignment

No problem guys. I didn't invent this only passing on what others taught me.

I would like to add that for most of us who are extremely low 0* of toe will decrease tire wear. This is also an effective on the spot way to set your toe on the track. Many weekend racers will use this method to set.check their toe durring race days. If your using this write up for that purpose you will need to explore and test different toe settings.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: How To: DIY alignment

Yes I'll fix that :lol:
 

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Kyle Gave Me His Oklahoma Foot Disease!
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Re: How To: DIY alignment

Stickied :)
 

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The best part about me is that I think I am better
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there are a few things that you assume as fact that can and will have a negative effect on someones alignment.

1. wheels with different offsets, caliper pad and face shapes will not have equal axel offsets in relation to your string. anyone running a staggered width, offset or even lip can and likely will see different numbers.

2. the car is straight

3. your measurement of axel offset is accurate from car to car.

4. the suspension arms are stock or of stock length

5. nothing is bent, there is no axel thrust issue or mis-aligned subframe(s).

you also forgot the 100% most critical tool....

a Pen and note-book for writing everything down!! :lol:

as an addition, it should be noted that the correct way to string a car is with 2 sets of jack stands, one on either side of the car, connected with string. the stings should be parallel to one another and trianglated(if possible) to each other to ensure accurate measurements. if the strings are set up correctly then the car should measure out equally in every direction. as such a proper boxed(strings completely around the car, not just along the sides) string system is preferred. measurements to the hub-center of the wheels along with across the car and tot he body in various places are required which is more time consuming and tedious but are truly the only accurate way of doing a string alignment. if done correctly, you should be able to put your tape measure to any point on the car and go to one of the jack stands and have the mirror of that measurement on the other side of the car be within 1/8" or tighter. people build and sell string rigs for this sole purpose and to eliminate excessive setup time! :)

when done properly the car will be perfectly centered and parallel with the strings and things like wheel offset, width and any other variable are removed. you then can follow the above method for adjustment of stock parts.

another thing to consider is that without slider plates upon which each wheel must sit upon, you will need to roll the car back and forth while turning the wheel from side to side and bouncing the car to settle out the suspension or you can and will likely see incorrect numbers. this of course required additional time to reset all your string measurements. :thumbsdown:
slider plates are as simple as 2x 12x12" square pieces of aluminum plate per wheel and spray teflon spray between them is ideal. a very cheap way is use ultra-thick folded industrial garbage bags and spray Pam between them for the same effect. think oreo cookies with the plates/folded bag being the cookies and the frosting being the teflon spray or pam. this just simply allows the wheel to turn and slide in/out as needed by your adjustments. proper alignment racks have these for this EXACT purpose!

it should also be noted that your ebrake MUST BE OFF and the car MUST BE OUT OF GEAR/IN NEUTRAL or it can also change your numbers. ask ken about how his ebrake changes his ride height!

in a variable-less scenario, your method works fine.
for all others, it will not give accurate results all of the time. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the addition Mitch. I really should look into making a box setup like you said tho, its not really hard. But your right I forgot to mention that the setup of the strings in this how to assume you have matching offsets, lips, and spacers (if any). My whole idea behind this was to offer up at home alignments for those on a budget. You and I both know to many times people drop or stance their car and them wait way to long to have an alignment. (usally until they wear through a set of tires :lol:) I will add some of your tips to the first post as no one will ever see them down here.
 

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i used this method to align my wheels and it came out dead wrong. not sure why. when i set the line to my wheels it
showed i had 4/32 toe out on both rear wheels and 3/32 toe in on the front two. i was trying to go to zero toe. i adjusted them as best i could to zero and drove for 4 days then aligned them again to zero. the backs were fine but the front wheels were toed out 1/8 each. then my wife insisted i get a shop to look so that we knew that all the bolts were tight and i wouldn't lose a wheel.
i went the shop and his machine said it was 3/32 and1/8 in on the left and right respectively, and 3/32 toed out on both the rears. strange?

just to give all the facts when i set the line it was 2 inches from the front hub and 2-5/32 from the rear hub.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Did you have your steering wheel locked? If so that may have part of your problem.
 

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Good write-up! I followed your methods and it worked well. It actually took longer to set up since I wanted to make it exact, than it did to make adjustments. Not having steel plates and grease, or big trash bags and Pam, for that matter, I innovated and found an even easier way to make slip pads for under the tires. I cut up a cardboard case for a 24 pack of Corona, and put two pieces under each tire just bigger than the contact patch. I faced the printed sides toward eachother and they are super slippery. No lube needed! It all worked well and I think my beer is almost cold! :Cheers:
P.S. I haven't tested other brands of beer cases, so you're on your own there.
 

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So I am running a 5mm spacer in the front to clear my brakes so my front wheels are 5mm farther out than the backs, would I still use the 10/64 track with? 2" from the front hub and 2-10/64 from the back?


Just read Mitches comment, and since I'm running a reverse stagger it isn't gonna work I suppose?9
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Correct you'll have to take off 5mm per side, which is 3/16". So on the front set your sting to 1 7/16" instead of 2"
 

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I can't use the front to rear by hub measuring because this assumes that your subframes aren't shifted and you're running a squared setup, which I am clearly not doing. Also, those with camber, you're numbers will change if you aren't EXACTLY through the center of the wheel. I can't stress that enough. That being said, for me, the easiest way for me to do it still in the simpler, non-triangulated track width way was as follows:
If you find the center line of the car and go 4 feet off on each side (or whatever increment you choose) for the jack stands and string it up, your wheels will be parallel to your center line of the car regardless of any subframe shifts to the left or right. This way also negates the hub distances because a shifted subframe will result in your alignment out of whack because the hub may be 16/64" (1/4") on the left rear and 4/64" (1/16") on the right rear. No you can line up and zero your toe in to the string the same way, but instead of being zeroed in to the hubs, they're zeroed in to the center line of the car.

-Matt
 

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Thank you, I think you typo'd but I got it, I subtracted 3/16 aka 12/64s from 3 and got 2-52/65, and the back track of 3-10/64. Did the "DIY alignment check before I started (knowing my car was .01 toe") and the measurement was the same on both sides, lowered my car a quarter inch and maxed out the coils and the toe was effected 2/64s so I just left it like that, still that's .03-.04 toe which won't effect anything. But this method worked great! Thank you so much for your help!
 
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