What to do about excessive negative front camber?

E9Wayne

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Hi all:
I've got an excessive front passenger side negative camber wheel situation that I'm hoping someone can help me with. Basically, my alignment showed -1.6 on the passenger side and -.6 on the driver side. I was worried about excessive tire wear and steering impact on the pass side. My repair shop thought the strut housing was bent since no other apparent damage was visible -- suspension links, subframe.

They recommended that I order a used replacement strut. After the install, my passenger side camber reading is now -2.8!

So either the replacement strut is bent more or more stock strut was straightened at some point by a PO to remedy a bad camber situation.

Question is, what do I do now? Do I go back to my original strut and live with it, try to straighten the original or "new" strut at a qualified frame shop, modify the top of the strut tower to produce more positive camber with a bent strut or some other approach?

Has anyone dealt with this before? Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

jranmann

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Hi Wayne I am facing the precise dilemma my e24 and i've taken a somewhat radical approach to the problem...I bought and am going to install next week an entirely new front axle, steering and suspension.. and still I have no certainty that the seven hours billed on the alignment rack is actually going to cure the problem completely, an issue that when viewed from afar seems minor indeed to most folks but if you are anything like I am...(I cannot stand to have the car pull to one side, block my view of the cluster and become less than stable in a strong headwind...) then fix it I must as that's my chartered duty to the car....

First thing I did was locate someone who had passed Geometry and also owned, ran or had a financial interest in a shop with more than one laser orientation system...i've consulted with this expert now 3 times and of course there's no guarantee but heck, what's another thousand after all we've been through... trouble is as you say been diagnosed as tweaked strut cartridge or housing... One important data point to consider is determining the nexus of the problem (as it's often masked by issues such at a damaged sub-frame, a bad tire and normal shock tower uplift due to age and rust or running long term with a lowered front end on cobblestones! My point is that the negative camber on one side only indicates clearly which way your chassis should pull, given a flat road surface and all other things being equal. Likely you will find that if you had really thought this through with the proper assist...you would have realized that the direction of pull (given the wheels' attitude result of the negative camber) will be pulling the upper part of the wheel inward and would create a left pull if the right front wheel...as the car is then riding on the edge of that particular tire and that causes the tire pull you are no doubt experiencing...Please do say how yours is in this respect?

Typically I am OK with multi-variable equations but this guy is way over my head and I am about to install new sub-frame and all steering linkage, if necessary new struts and also both axle assemblies are to be replaced...hell it this doesn't improve things i swear Im just gonna drive her in reverse everywhere I go and make excuses to anyone there at that particular time.

Hopefully the work is to be done one week from today (tuesday) so I will report back a happy camper or a dizzy, neck comprimised back seat driver!

Cheers!

Ran
 
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abe3.0CSi

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Some people like a little negative camber for better stability. My 83 Porsche has about -1.8 in the front. As the old car ages and sags you can expect that. The fix in my car is more expensive than worth...don't know if a strut bar might help a little. One solution to decrease tire wear in my Porsche was to have them do a little intoeing when alingning.
good luck
abe
 

MMercury

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Hi all:
I've got an excessive front passenger side negative camber wheel situation that I'm hoping someone can help me with. Basically, my alignment showed -1.6 on the passenger side and -.6 on the driver side. I was worried about excessive tire wear and steering impact on the pass side. My repair shop thought the strut housing was bent since no other apparent damage was visible -- suspension links, subframe.

They recommended that I order a used replacement strut. After the install, my passenger side camber reading is now -2.8!

So either the replacement strut is bent more or more stock strut was straightened at some point by a PO to remedy a bad camber situation.

Question is, what do I do now? Do I go back to my original strut and live with it, try to straighten the original or "new" strut at a qualified frame shop, modify the top of the strut tower to produce more positive camber with a bent strut or some other approach?

Has anyone dealt with this before? Thanks in advance for any advice.
It might be more helpful if you clarified what you are trying to remedy. A noticeable alignment issue when driving? For example, tire wear and/or a car that tracks strangely? Or is it a decent tracking car with an abberant suspension measurement?

I would consider going to a frame and body shop that might be more adept at diagmosing your problem. Maybe you just had bad luck with bent struts or is it bent strut housings? You were not clear as to what was replaced: just the housing or the strut and the housing? If the strut cartridge is already bent, changing the housing with another used part might have compounded things.

Bent or wrong control arms? Were either of these changed?

FWIW, it is my understanding that camber should be "0"; however, if I remember correctly, some CSL's actually had 1degree negative camber.

See below:




FWIW here are some interesting quotes from an article on the subject:

"If camber is off on one side only, a close encounter with a pothole or curb may have bent a spindle, control arm or strut. A shift in the position of a strut tower can cause the same thing. A shift in the position of a crossmember, on the other hand, will usually change camber on both sides. In MacPherson strut suspensions, the position of the upper strut tower is critical.A bent strut or spindle can affect camber as can a bent control arm, a mislocated crossmember or an off-center engine cradle in a FWD car."

"Too far in and the wheel will have too much negative camber. Too far out and it will have too much positive camber. One way to identify hidden damage that may be affecting camber is to do a "jounce/rebound camber check." Raise the suspension four inches and read camber on both sides. Then compress the suspension four inches and read the camber angles for both wheels again."

"Different side-to-side camber readings with a jounce/rebound camber check usually indicates a bent strut that needs to be replaced or straightened. If the readings are the same, a check of the "steering axis inclination" (SAI) angle side-to-side should also be made."

"Bending a strut to "realign" the front end is no answer because you shouldn't fix one problem by creating another. Bending a strut may bring camber back into range ‹ assuming the wheel isn't off more than one and a half degrees (which is the maximum limit for bending any strut). But bending a perfectly good strut to compensate for misalignment elsewhere is going to create unequal camber changes side-to-side during jounce and rebound, which may create a bump-steer condition. There is also a risk of weakening the strut, which may lead to strut failure later. To check for a bent strut shaft, loosen the large shaft nut at the top of each strut and rotate the shaft 360° while keeping an eye on the camber reading. If the shaft is bent, the top of the wheel will wobble in and out, and the camber reading will change as the shaft turns. No change in the camber reading means there's nothing wrong with the strut. A strut with a bent shaft must be replaced. There's no way to safely straighten this kind of damage because attempting to bend a hardened shaft will likely crack it."


From: http://www.import-car.com/Article/39436/when_to_replace_steering_knuckles_and_arms.aspx

See also: http://www.import-car.com/Article/66755/tech_feature_servicing_macpherson_struts.aspx


Good luck.
 

E9Wayne

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Wacky camber update

Hey guys, as usual, a wealth of useful information in these responses. I'm not sure my budget will absorb replacing all the parts that Ran is contending with. But I am sure that reading MMercury's reply will keep me from sleeping tonight. Here's what I am doing now after hobbling home with this wacky camber situation. I'm taking my car to Bimmerdoc within the next two weeks to visit Carl and have him look at the suspension and undercarraige closely. (I had to pay the first repair shop $250 for their trouble in doing the strut housing swap.)

I'm hoping it's something simple -- perhaps my replacement strut was bent more, or this is a control arm issue. The struts were replaced less than 10,000 miles ago with new Billsteins so it's probably not that. Subframe, I hope not since I just did the engine swap.

Before trying to "cure" this problem, there were no real symptoms of abnormal tire wear or strange steering; I just didn't like the idea of a 1.0 degree difference from right to left sides up front. I've owned this car about 1.5 years and there were two previous owners. No obvious accident damage.

I love 2800CSM5's recommendation on the camber plates, which will also help tackle my non-spec caster issues also.

I have to remember this is a 40 year old car and the old girl is no spring chicken. I don't need perfect suspension geometry. 0 to -.5 camber on both front sides would be great, but let's see! Wayne
 
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