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Camber, Caster, and Toe Explained for the Car Driving Layman!
Welcome to Harworth Tyres – your tyre- and wheel alignment specialist in Harworth, Doncaster.
Car owners don’t usually care about intricate details concerning camber, toe, and caster. All they mostly care about is if the wheel alignment is adjusted and set correctly. Now wheel alignment is critical as it significantly affects the overall car performance. It is also vital your car’s safety and the tread life warranty. A correct alignment ensures that all the four wheels are consistently set with each other and optimised for maximum contact with the road surface. The way in which the wheels of your car are oriented can be segmented into three parts: Camber, Caster and Toe. Gaining an understanding of these three components will help you identify and tackle wheel alignment issues swiftly.
So, let’s look at these components and their impact on wheel alignment one by one:
Camber angle is the measured angle between the vertical axis of the tyres and the vertical axis of the car while viewing it from a front or rear position. In layman terms, it can be considered as the inward and outward lean of the tyre. A camber angle can be regarded as positive or negative based on its tilt. If the top of the tyre tilts outwards, camber is described to be Positive. Conversely, if the head of the tyre is leaning inwards, camber is deemed to be Negative. If the tyre is perfectly perpendicular, i.e. at 90° to the surface, the camber angle is measured at zero degrees.
Camber: different forces on the wheels when cornering, depending on their angle of inclination.
Camber angle directly impacts the surface grip of the tyre while driving. Negative camber is advantageous to car drivers during heavy cornering as it increases the surface grip. However, the surface grip is reduced during straight acceleration. Zero camber will result in faster tire wear over a period.
So what camber angle is right for you?
Well, it depends entirely on your driving style, the car, and the road conditions around your vehicle.
Caster angle is the angle measured between the steering axis and the vertical axis of the tyres while viewing the car from the side. Caster angle is described as Positive Caster when the steering axis is in front of the vertical axis and conversely, is described as Negative Caster when the steering axis is behind the vertical axis.
Positive Caster makes the cars stable at high speeds in a straight line. With the increase in positive caster, the steering gets heavier as well. However, the manufacturers have overcome this challenge with the modern power steering systems. We recommend using higher positive caste value only if your car incorporates advanced power steering system.
Negative Caster is not found in modern vehicles anymore. The steering effort is highly reduced in this geometry; however, it also decreases the straight-line stability during driving, increasing the probability of the car to wander to the side of the straight road. In short, don’t drive on highways.
Toe is the measure of the angle formed by the tyres when they point inward or outward with an imaginary vertical axis when viewing it from the top. The Toe alignment has a massive effect on the way car reacts to the steering inputs. It also impacts tyre life and tread wear. Depending on the driver requirement and conditions, tread life is sacrificed to gain maximum stability and optimised performance.
Toe-in, also referred as Positive Toe, occurs when both the front tyres move inwardly towards the centre of the vehicle. The inwards push boosts the straight-line stability and reduces the turning ability of the car. Toe-in alignment is highly recommended if you usually drive down the highway at faster speed.
Toe-out, commonly referred as Negative Toe, occurs when both the front tyres move outwards away from the centre of the car. Toe-out improves steering control and turning ability of the vehicle. However, the improved control comes at the cost of faster tire wear. Toe-out alignment may also cause the car to over-steer at narrow angles. This alignment is not recommended to be used while driving on highways as a slight change in the direction of the steering could cause the car to pivot at high speed.
The newly purchased car comes with manufacturer optimised settings. It is essential you understand that they carry out detailed research on the car design, road conditions, weather and many other factors before setting those numbers. So, do not attempt to modify them, unless you feel it’s necessary.
If you believe it is crucial for you to modify the suspension, ensure that you consult with the right professionals before doing so. There is no pre-defined value for camber, caster and toe that can be considered perfect. As mentioned earlier as well, it ultimately depends on your driving style and the road conditions.
If you are looking for wheel alignment services in Tickhill, Harworth, Bircotes, Bawtry, Scrooby, Serlby, Styrrup, Blyth, Rossington etc. we at Harworth Tyres will be happy to help.
We have lots of customers from the surrounding areas and our team is always happy to look after them.
Drive Happy, Drive Safe!