Do it yourself 4 wheel alignment at home can be done.
A couple weeks ago my Hunter wheel aligner went down and I have to go back to old school techniques until I can get their service tech to come out and repair it. It’s no big deal since I started out with mechanical wheel alignment equipment at the first alignment shop I ever worked out back in the early 1980s. For 17 years all we ever used was a bubble gauge for camber caster and a Beeline toe bar.
So I got to wondering what was available these days for mechanical equipment compared to what I used to use. And I found these cool toe plates on Amazon as pictured above. If you just want to set the toe in toe out on the front or the rear axle, these work just fine for that.
Before I bought a electronic wheel aligner I used a Beeline toe bar and would scribe the tires to make the toe measurement. I still own those tools and use them from time to time. For example I used them to compare the toe setting after using the toe plates I bought on Amazon. And for the most part, the tow plates agreed with my Beeline equipment. But the thing about these toe plates is they’re kind of flimsy. They will be fine for a do-it-yourselfer, but not in a high production shop that does wheel alignment. But if you’re a general repair tech and you install tie rod ends or something like that, these would be perfect for getting the car in the ballpark until you can get checked with an alignment rack.
I think the real benefit of these toe plates is going to be on a car that has ground effects or a spoiler that gets in the way of my old style toe bar. Which was the reason I went looking to see what was available other than my current toe bar set-up.
Getting the steering wheel straight is probably going to suck since this isn’t your day job. But here’s the key. Mark each tie rod sleeve and turn them in the direction that the steering wheel is pointing. I usually think in terms of 1/4 in and 1/4 out of each tie rod. This keeps your toe setting the same but moves the steering towards center. Unless of course you have an old Dodge with a a left and right thread outer end. Then you’re best off taking that bugger to the alignment shop if you want it straight since it’s really easy to screw up the toe on one of them. Some older Ford truck have this type of set-up too. Rule of thumb when turning the tie rod sleeves to adjust steering wheel position is to make sure the outer ends are both right hand thread. Or, just set the toe with the toe plates and don’t bother trying to center the wheel, you don’t have to worry about accidentally jacking your alignment while centering the wheel.