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Mazdaspeed Archive => FAQ and How To(In Progress) => Topic started by: Keeper of the FAQs on December 03, 2005, 01:58:16 PM



Title: Self Alignment
Post by: Keeper of the FAQs on December 03, 2005, 01:58:16 PM

Posts: 36


     Re: MSM track day sorting
Reply #3 on: October 16, 2005, 07:35:27 PM    

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The Miata is a more difficult alignment because the of the IRS...but still reasonably easy to do by the string line method.

You'll need: 4-jack stands, a ball of string, a Camber guage (about 100.00), racers tape, a 17mm wrench, shims (plywood or magazines) and a level.

1) park on a reasonably level surface, lay a strip of tape on the ground to mark where each wheel lies.
2) now move the car and level the surface, side to side, using magazines or plywood as shims, roll the car back in place.
3) take a strip of tape and mark the centerline of the car on both the front and rear bumper covers.
4) set up your jackstands and pull a string line along each side of the car, exactly equal distanced from the front and rear centerlines, at about the height of the hub centerline.  This is now your reference point to set your front and rear toe...(but first set the camber, then the toe)
5) crawl under and loosen the 2 adjusters on each of the lower control arms (17mm), rotate the cam adjusters to achieve the desired camber setting. As you play with this you'll note that the rearmost cam bolt will be used to effect the caster in the front, and it will be used to "steer" the rear wheels...effectively being your toe-in/out adjustment for the rear tires. 
6) Set the front camber and lock down the adjusters both front and rear. 
7) Set the front toe by centering your steering wheel, loosening the tie rod jam nut (17mm) and turning the tie rod to lengthen the rod.  Now measure from the string line to the fore and aft lips of the wheel to get the desired toe setting. Lock the jam nut back down.
 You set the rear camber and toe at the same time.  Using the forward-most cam to adjust the camber and the rear-most cam adjuster to "point" the rear tire for the toe setting.  Again measure from the wheel lips to the string line.

This will involve some "chasing of your tail".  You will have to roll the car back and forth repeatedly pushing up and down to "settle the suspension" unless you have alignment plates. 

Don't worry so much about the castor setting.  You will likely be in the range of 4-5 degrees which is adequate.  If you lower the car, or buy offset bushings, then you can get this back to around 6 degrees (good because increasing castor will positivly influence your camber curve in bump).

Don't worry about the bump steer setting in these things.  This is well engineered right from the factory. The front toes out just a touch in bump and the rear has zero movement through the entire range.

You just save yourself $75.00 a pop.  You can now align your car for a track day and then reel it back in for street driving.

Words of caution: 
*Be sure to double check the tightness of all of the bolts that you've laid a wrench on.
**Adjust your front toe evenly using both tie rods.  While it is possible to use only one side, you will run the risk of unscrewing your tie rod too far out of the ball joint.  It may break loose if it doesn't have enough thread engaugement...and you'd loose steering.
*** neg camber, while fun, will quickly wear out the inside edge of your tires.  In the negative .75 --1 degree range, I'd expect about 25% less tread life.  In the the negative 1.5--2.0 range you can expect a 50% reduction in tread life.  For street driving, I'd recommend using as much neg camber as you can afford to spend!
****don't use toe out for street driving as it's very unpredictable/twitchy with uneven surfaces, ruts, etc. 

Happy mechanicing.  sj     


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: MazdaSeed on December 04, 2005, 05:47:02 AM
Although thorough, that seems rather difficult and involved for a first timer, being as that there ARE NO PICS! Need I imply how many words a pic is worth? :laugh: Good post anyway, I assume someone who has done this before on another car would have an easy time doing this on a MX5 by reading this.  :beer:


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Forge_55b on December 05, 2005, 04:20:31 AM
I haven't ever actually done my own alignment however as long as the person doing this has knowledge of the 3 settings of an alignment, it should be a relatively simple process.  I don't think it'll be difficult but probably would take quite a bit of time.  Just my 2 cents but then again  :worthless almost.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: b005td on September 15, 2006, 05:12:05 AM
i wanted to do this myself and i am kinda ready to
but it sounds kinda difficult
u sure u have no pics ?


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Keeper of the FAQs on September 15, 2006, 06:06:24 PM
This was a cut and paste from somewhere else (if you couldn't tell)

_I_ have no pics, and have placed this in the on progress folder to try and motivate others to contribute :)


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: ATXspeed on September 28, 2006, 05:00:00 AM
I have a few thoughts. I do alignments with a $30k  machine at my work. The strings just dont seem like they would cut it IMHO. I have never tried it though. I just did my alignment today. I cant wait to take it out and see what differance it made. I have high expectations! it was pretty far out. Felt like i was sliding around on a flat tire in the right rear. Not no more though. Here is a link to the cool people at Miata.net  http://miata.net/garage/align.html Just a little extra info for you who don't exactly know the effect of the various angles.

Two things. 1. I feel that an alignment is not an alignment w/o properly setting ALL angles, including caster. This could make for a very unhappy MSM. 2. Weight Balasting. A must for a performance car.

Just my $0.02

Im in North Austin, TX, let me know if your in this aria and want a really good alignment. I can take custome specs, and I'll let you sit in the car if you want. Just a thought.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: wrathchild on October 16, 2006, 01:59:43 AM
If you are good, you can do it with the strings and get close enough to that 30k machine that you would never know the difference. I have seen it done and they put the car on the real alignment machine after, and it was damn near dead on.  Its all in who does it and how good they are.   IIRC there is a way to set the caster as well involving a camber gauge and turning the wheels side to side.


Myself Im sticking to the machine :laugh:


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Magma on February 27, 2007, 06:21:55 PM
I found it much easier to go to a Miata Guy that works for NTB.  3 year alignment $129, as many redo's as i want, I thin in the 8 months since I bought it I have had 6 alignments for various track events


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: SilverMiataRacer on February 27, 2007, 07:34:09 PM
Well your lucky.  Here in Charleston I can't get a guy who can align a Miata to spec never the less to something other than what the machine is preprogrammed to do.

I had the Tire Kingdom 3 year plan on one of my cars and it was such a disaster I just wrote it off as a bad investment.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: '95MSM on February 27, 2007, 09:26:29 PM
The string method works.  I've used it many times on my race cars.  HOWEVER - they have all had separate adjustments for caster, camber & toe.  Doing a Miata in a string box would be incredibly difficult for the rear suspension, where all three are in play and must be nailed with any adjustment.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Keeper of the FAQs on April 14, 2009, 09:09:26 PM
I found it much easier to go to a Miata Guy that works for NTB.  3 year alignment $129, as many redo's as i want, I thin in the 8 months since I bought it I have had 6 alignments for various track events

The local NTB has 2 alignment guys. One fellow will put my car up there, look for green lights, and put it back down.

The other fellow will look at the numbers on the printout I give him, and match them up.

(hint: the machine they use has no values in it for the MSM, so you ALWAYS get a green for the car, no matter how far out it is)

The only thing worse than having the guy insist the car is 'in specs', is having him grumble about the 'extra' work he has to do to get it set right, esp when I'm the first person in on a saturday morning.

I bought the 3 year deal at NTB, never again. I hate going there. I don't even buy tires from them anymore, thanks to that guy.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: ValorRacer on October 22, 2010, 10:22:15 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Woofster on October 22, 2010, 11:02:17 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.

1. Drive to a dealer
2. Drive away before they touch your car!
3. Drive to custom alignment shop that others have used successfully.
4. TELL THEM the alignment you want (not going to happen at a dealership).
5. Sit in the car (driver's seat) while the alignment is being done (if this isn't OK with your alignment guy go somewhere else)!
6. Test alignment on the way home.
7. Drive past dealership and laugh at customers watching Judge Judy!   :dink:


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: SgtSpike on October 22, 2010, 11:35:32 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.

1. Drive to a dealer
2. Drive away before they touch your car!
3. Drive to custom alignment shop that others have used successfully.
4. TELL THEM the alignment you want (not going to happen at a dealership).
5. Sit in the car (driver's seat) while the alignment is being done (if this isn't OK with your alignment guy go somewhere else)!
6. Test alignment on the way home.
7. Drive past dealership and laugh at customers watching Judge Judy!   :dink:
Jeff, I called up Eurosport, they said they don't do alignments... thoughts?  I thought that was who you had recommended to me.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Woofster on October 22, 2010, 11:41:39 PM
Jeff, I called up Eurosport, they said they don't do alignments... thoughts?  I thought that was who you had recommended to me.

The alignment shop is Powerhouse Automotive 1203 S Bertelsen Rd (just South of W. 11th)  541-515-6888 (It's a yellow building).  Let them know you are with EESCC and the alignment is for your AutoX car.  The owner is Philip and he is very receptive to working with your custom alignment needs.   :mrgreen:


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: ValorRacer on October 23, 2010, 01:48:31 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.

1. Drive to a dealer
2. Drive away before they touch your car!
3. Drive to custom alignment shop that others have used successfully.
4. TELL THEM the alignment you want (not going to happen at a dealership).
5. Sit in the car (driver's seat) while the alignment is being done (if this isn't OK with your alignment guy go somewhere else)!
6. Test alignment on the way home.
7. Drive past dealership and laugh at customers watching Judge Judy!   :dink:

if a multi-billion dollar company's dealership cannot get you an alignment you require, they would be closed down. i doubt a little shop has a machine more advanced than the dealership that does some magical "David Blaine technique" that they have been keeping secret from the rest of the world...  :roll:

they will put your caster, camber, tow all over the place if thats what you pay for. just gotta know what you want(if its anything other than oem).


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Woofster on October 23, 2010, 04:21:47 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.

1. Drive to a dealer
2. Drive away before they touch your car!
3. Drive to custom alignment shop that others have used successfully.
4. TELL THEM the alignment you want (not going to happen at a dealership).
5. Sit in the car (driver's seat) while the alignment is being done (if this isn't OK with your alignment guy go somewhere else)!
6. Test alignment on the way home.
7. Drive past dealership and laugh at customers watching Judge Judy!   :dink:

if a multi-billion dollar company's dealership cannot get you an alignment you require, they would be closed down. i doubt a little shop has a machine more advanced than the dealership that does some magical "David Blaine technique" that they have been keeping secret from the rest of the world...  :roll:

they will put your caster, camber, tow all over the place if thats what you pay for. just gotta know what you want(if its anything other than oem).

I've been using the David Blaine alignment for years now.  Shhhh...it's a secret (that a professional alignment shop has crap equipment).  Also, some dealerships won't do anything but an OEM alignment!  They aren't interested (or potentially insured) in setting your specs.  Multi-billion dollar or not, read the threads right here about the poor mechanical service and shoddy work many experience at the dealership.  I can roll my eyes too!   ::)


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: SilverMiataRacer on October 23, 2010, 07:20:57 PM
And I certainly don't let them adjust my tow.  That's what a tow truck is for.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: ValorRacer on October 23, 2010, 10:25:31 PM
Alignment:
1.drive to dealer.
2.sit and watch judge judy in the waiting area.
3.pay dealer 69.99 for alignment.
4.drive home happy 1 hour later.

why attempt that massive run-around mess and risk your 200 dollar a piece tires????
they make machines to get it right on, USE THEM.

1. Drive to a dealer
2. Drive away before they touch your car!
3. Drive to custom alignment shop that others have used successfully.
4. TELL THEM the alignment you want (not going to happen at a dealership).
5. Sit in the car (driver's seat) while the alignment is being done (if this isn't OK with your alignment guy go somewhere else)!
6. Test alignment on the way home.
7. Drive past dealership and laugh at customers watching Judge Judy!   :dink:

if a multi-billion dollar company's dealership cannot get you an alignment you require, they would be closed down. i doubt a little shop has a machine more advanced than the dealership that does some magical "David Blaine technique" that they have been keeping secret from the rest of the world...  :roll:

they will put your caster, camber, tow all over the place if thats what you pay for. just gotta know what you want(if its anything other than oem).

I've been using the David Blaine alignment for years now. 
well im sorry to hear that. at least i informed you of proper facility to get an alignment. no more "alignment shops" like Midas and no more plum-bobs and yarn. its a great day.  :dink: <-Whoa!, didnt know i could do that...


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: VagaXt on October 24, 2010, 04:44:29 AM
I'm going to say that if you are near my area, I can custom align and cornerweigh your car for you.  That's what I've been doing for the last year or so.  :)  Nothing like doing it yourself.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: ValorRacer on October 24, 2010, 01:53:28 PM
  :)  Nothing like doing it yourself.
i couldnt agree more. but there is something called "the point of diminishing return". and with the OP's extreme writeup over having a shop do it for you and saving all the hassle and run-around, thats just silly.

as for doing it yourself, im all about it. i am an avid engine/turbo/supercharger/builder with my own side business and extreme attention to detail and craftsmanship. no point in re-inventing the wheel ya know. i could cast my own block i suppose, but it wouldnt be anywhere near the oem one and it would take years of work and effort to do it.

but if you enjoy doing the work a machine can do for you in half the time and half the effort, go for it. while you're at it, lets go back to well pumps, hand crank engines and rotary telephones.  ;D


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: relteschutte on May 08, 2011, 03:57:47 AM
The problem is not the machine vs manual. It is about the standard shop not wanting to align it to anything other than what the comuputer tells them and then only set it till they get in the "green" zone for each measurement. After doing 3-4 alignments on different miatas and other cars in my family over a 6 month peroid, the last one at the Mazda dealership on my dad's 99. They ticked me off when they got mad when I requested that they at leasy set the settings to the same values left and right instead of just in the green. They wouldn't even give me a before and after printout, how do you even know they did anything then! My brother, dad and I went in together and got nice digital caster/camber gauges and toe plates after all that crap and have been educating ourselves ever since. It takes a while to learn, especially on the Miata where the combined changes on the camber bolts can make changes in all three parameters. Once you get the hang of it its not so bad.
I just really hate that you can't trust anyone these days to perform a descent job. That is why I spend way too much money on tools so I can do it all myself.
We had a local Franks Tire align my brothers FFR 65 Cobra Roadster a while back, just days before a weekend trip to Deals Gap. They messed up the toe so bad that it ate the inside tires down to the cords on the front in two days at the gap. Then they refused to compensate him or even do a re-alignment. We ended up taking it to another shop, don't remember how far it was out, but it was rediculous.
Now we do have a few local racing shops that will do a great job for around $200. I just figuired for less than 2 alignments we could get the tools and doo all the alignments and alignment checks we want for free.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Rotary Heart on May 08, 2011, 07:20:27 AM
Dam I hate you guys:'( I have asked in a few shops here in PR and they say its impossible!!!! And they don't even try it!!!! DAM POST PICS SO I CAN DO IT!!! I'm going crazy!! Pls someone help me out here english is my second lenguage and I can't understand 100% what the "how to" say!

I need an alignment pretty bad!


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Rotary Heart on September 21, 2011, 02:55:22 AM
Well this is some videos to know how to set up your car to make the alignment. I think that they can help.

http://www.streetfire.net/video/car-alignment-part-1_160184.htm

http://www.streetfire.net/video/car-alignment-part-2_160197.htm

http://www.streetfire.net/video/car-alignment-part-3_160212.htm


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Masraum on September 21, 2011, 04:33:02 AM
There are some write ups, I think with picks over at miata.net.  Go over and do a search.  The method is the same for every NA and NB (maybe NC too, I'm not sure).  It's not hard, you just have to be thorough and detail oriented.

I would absolutely NOT have a dealer, NTB or similar place do my alignment unless I knew they had an enthusiast that would do it right.

I have gotten lots of alignments over the years.  Unless you hound them or take the car to the right place, what you get is "within spec" which is invariably crap.  The reason that it's crap is that the specs usually encompass a range, and as long as the guys get the numbers ANYWHERE within the range they will consider it "good"

I don't know what the factory describe specs are, but it would surise me if the front camber could be anything between +.25* and -.75* (which might be great if you're into NASCAR, but sucks if you want to enjoy driving).  Well, with those specs you could have positive camber on one front tire and negative on another and the dealer would consider it "good".  I consider that "crap".  Assuming that you'll get a good alignment at the dealer because they are the dealer is foolish to put it lightly.  I've known guys that worked at dealers.  I wouldn't want them to work on my car.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: schmoo on September 21, 2011, 06:11:23 PM
ValorRacer,

Do you "get it" now?

We would all prefer to have it done at a good shop with the latest gear. However, given the choice between state of the art machines where they put it "within spec" and a 5 year old machine where they put it the way you want it, most of us will opt for option 2.



Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Woofster on September 21, 2011, 07:02:16 PM
ValorRacer,

Do you "get it" now?

Valor hasn't been active since November of 2010.  He probably was killed after driving on a dealership performed OEM alignment!   :2funny:


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Masraum on September 21, 2011, 07:07:03 PM
Someone on m.net posted scans of the factory workshop manual's pages showing the factory recommended settings for the 2004 Miata and MSM.  The MSM settings are different.
http://forum.miata.net/vb/showpost.php?p=5056046&postcount=3

Here are the settings

front
toein .12" (.16")  -- (acceptible range .04" toe out to .28" toe in)
caster 618' (1) -- (acceptible range 518' - 718')
Camber -010' (1) -- (acceptible range +.9 - -1.16)  

Can you imagine if you had almost a full degree positive on one side and a full degree negative on the other?  ouch, handling would be horrific!!


rear

toein .12" (.16")
camber -1 (1) -- (acceptible, yeah, you could have 0 on one side, and -2 on the other and still be completely within spec)



Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: Masraum on September 21, 2011, 07:09:14 PM
Valor hasn't been active since November of 2010.  He probably was killed after driving on a dealership performed OEM alignment!   :2funny:

We've all heard the stories about wrecked S2000s.  According to his sig, that's what he was driving last.  And it was supercharged no less.


Title: Re: Self Alignment
Post by: mic5423 on February 22, 2013, 08:06:08 PM
I know this thread is old, buy I found this article which seems to be thorough... WITH PICS!!!!  :lol:

http://www.quadesl.com/miata_alignment.html