For black-magic mystery, front-end alignment is right up there with air conditioning, starter-motor or alternator rebuilding, fuel injection, carburetor tuning, and automatic-transmission overhauls.
What is it and how do you do it?It's easy to write off front-end alignment as something best left to professionals. But did you know you can do front-end alignment yourself? And did you know you can converse intelligently with your front-end alignment professional, assuming you can find one that still aligns vintage cars such as '65-'73 Mustangs?
Front-end alignment is nothing more than simple geometry: how all four tires interact with both vehicle and pavement. Alignment is an understanding of how the suspension and steering behave as the car cruises down the road. How tires interact with the pavement depends on how they are adjusted when the vehicle is at rest and when we start driving. A Mustang's front suspension behaves differently when cruising straight than when cornering.
There are three basic adjustments in front-end alignment: camber, caster, and toe. If you possess absolutely no knowledge of front-end alignment, these are terms that won't make a bit of sense, so let's explain them to you.
What Is Camber?Camber is the angle of the tire/wheel as it relates to the road. Think of the front wheels as your own legs. Positive camber makes you bow-legged. Negative camber makes you walk pigeon-toed, on the insides of your feet. So how does camber affect your Mustang? When you have positive camber, your Mustang won't corner well because each turn runs the front tires onto their sidewalls, which is why you'll never see positive camber in a front-end alignment-specs chart. When a Mustang corners, negative camber keeps more tire contact patch (tread) in contact with the pavement. Negative camber, with the vehicle at rest, assures some negative camber in a turn. Mustangs need 1/4-degree negative camber minimum, and 1-1/4-degrees maximum if you're going canyon chasing.