Proper wheel-bearing adjustment is also important. Loose or maladjusted wheel bearings will throw off front-end alignment. Make sure the front wheel bearings are properly packed, installed, and adjusted. Spin the brake drum/rotor and torque the adjusting nut to 15-20 ft-lb. Spin it again and feel for tightness. If the rotor is hard to turn, loosen the nut and spin it again. By loosening the nut, you're allowing the bearings to seat properly; torque to 15-20 ft-lb and check again. The rotor should spin smoothly. Slowly back the nut to where you have cotter-pin hole alignment. Torquing the nut to 15-20 ft-lb firmly seats the bearings. Loosening the nut to secure the cotter pin takes the load off the bearings.
Front-End CheckFront-end alignment is pointless if you're dealing with worn-out components. Upper ball joints don't live as long as lower ones. In fact, lower control arms generally last twice as long as upper arms. As a rule, you should replace both at the same time.
There are two ways to check ball-joint wear, but it's best to have a front-end professional check ball-joint and tie-rod endplay. They have the right equipment to do the job.
Eastwood's Home AlignmentThe Eastwood Company now makes it possible to perform a front-end alignment in your home garage. You need only two tools to perform alignment: the Fastrax camber/caster gauge from Pole Position Racing & Rod Products and the wheel alignment gauge from Manco Products. As its name implies, the Fastrax camber/caster gauge enables you to set camber and caster. All you have to do is roll the car back and forth once adjustment is made. Then, check camber and caster again to confirm adjustment.
The Manco wheel alignment gauge is for setting toe-in, which makes light work of front-end alignment. All you have to do is center the steering wheel and get to work underneath.
All front-end alignment work must be done with the full weight of the vehicle on the tires. Never perform a front-end alignment with the wheels off the ground. Again, when you set camber and caster, roll the car back and forth to stabilize adjustment, then check again. A road test is the final confirmation of your performance.