Do It Yourself 4 Wheel Alignment

do it yourself 4 wheel alignment

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.

do it yourself 4 wheel alignment

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.

Cordless Impact Wrench Review

Dewalt cordless impact wrench


Update: June 24, 2017 – 1 year later. I’ve used this gun a lot in the past year and I swear it’s just as powerful as the day I got it. I will say the only negative about this tool is the button to switch directions is too close to the trigger and sometimes I accidently hit and turn the nut the wrong way. But that’s it. The rest of this tool is perfect.  

Most of the last 37 years in auto repair I’ve used Ingersol-Rand impact guns. A few years back I bought an 18-volt cordless impact from Matco Tools. It was very impressive. And very expensive. After about a year and a half, I had to have it rebuilt.
Recently I got a new Dewalt 20-volt 1/2 impact wrench. Oh. My. God. It’s amazing how powerful it is. And since it’s brushless, hopefully, it will last a long time before having to be replaced.  But even if I have to buy a new gun every year or so it will be worth it since it’s over 50 percent less cost than  the 18v Matco gun I first bought.  Plus, the Dewalt gun is shorter and easier to get into tight places. And the most powerful impact wrench I’ve ever used.