How to Fix Negative Camber Problems

Camber is the angle of the wheels when viewed from the front or rear of the vehicle. It refers to the inward or outward tilt of the wheels from vertical.

  • Negative camber is when the top of the wheel tilts inward, closer to the chassis. This causes the tire to lean inward at the top.
  • Positive camber is when the top of the wheel tilts outward, away from the chassis. This causes the tire to lean outward at the top.

Diagram showing negative and positive camber

Diagram showing negative and positive camber angles

Camber is an important alignment parameter that affects tire wear, handling, and stability. The ideal camber setting varies by vehicle and manufacturer specifications. Most passenger vehicles come with a slight negative camber from the factory for better cornering and grip.

What Causes Negative Camber?

There are several potential causes of excessive negative camber:

Worn Suspension Components

The most common cause of negative camber issues is worn suspension components like ball joints, control arm bushings, struts, and tie rods. As these components wear out over time, they allow more vertical wheel movement and cause the wheel alignment to go out of spec. This gradually results in negative camber as the top of the wheel tilts inwards.

Lowered Vehicles

Lowering the ride height, either through aftermarket lowering kits or settling springs, can push the wheels outwards and create negative camber. This is especially common in the front wheels.

Crash Damage

A collision impacting the wheel or suspension can bend components and knock the camber out of alignment. Even minor body damage can tweak the wheel angles.

Overloaded Vehicle

Carrying heavy loads causes the suspension to compress and wheels to tilt inwards, resulting in temporary negative camber that reverts once the load is removed.

Problems Caused by Excessive Negative Camber

Too much negative camber causes the following issues:

  • Inner tire wear: Excess camber causes the inner tread to wear faster than the outer tread. This leads to uneven tire wear and reduced tire life.
  • Poor wet handling: Negative camber reduces the tire contact patch lengthwise, decreasing grip in wet conditions and increasing chances of hydroplaning.
  • Pulling in one direction: Unbalanced camber side to side creates a pulling in the direction of the wheel with more negative camber.
  • Lower stability: Excessive camber makes the vehicle less stable, especially at higher speeds. This increases the chances of spin outs.
  • Difficulty steering: It can make the steering wheel off-center and harder to control around curves.

Inspecting Camber

Before adjusting camber, you need to measure and inspect the current wheel alignment to diagnose the problem. There are three ways to check camber at home:

Eyeball Method

Visually assess if the wheels look tilted inwards or outwards from the front. This gives a rough idea but isn’t very accurate.

Inclined Plane

  1. Park on a flat, level surface like a driveway.
  2. Place a long, straight board (like a 2×4) under the tire. Position it halfway between the front and rear of the tire.
  3. Check the gap between the top of the tire and board.
  4. Repeat on the other side. More gap indicates more negative camber.

Using an inclined plane to measure camber

Using an inclined plane to check camber

Digital Protractor

  1. Remove the wheel and place the bare hub on jack stands.
  2. Attach a digital protractor on the hub face. Zero it out.
  3. Tilt the protractor to match the angle of the hub and strut.
  4. Note the angle reading. More negative values mean more negative camber.

This method is the most accurate DIY way to measure camber.

Adjusting Camber

There are two main ways to adjust camber – at the upper strut mount or lower control arm. Here are instructions for both methods:

Adjusting Upper Strut Mount

This involves slotting the bolt holes on the strut tower to allow pivoting the strut assembly and steering knuckle.

Strut mount adjustment

Strut mount showing factory slots and adjustment range

Tools needed:

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wrench set
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Crescent wrench

Steps:

  1. Lift the front of the vehicle and support it on jack stands.
  2. Remove the wheel to access the strut mount.
  3. Loosen the nuts on the strut mount bolts. Do not remove completely.
  4. Check which way the camber needs to be adjusted – inwards or outwards.
  5. Tap the strut assembly with a hammer to pivot it in the right direction. Move it in small increments and check frequently with a digital protractor.
  6. Once the desired camber is achieved, tighten the strut mount nuts to lock it in position.
  7. Reinstall the wheel and lower the vehicle. Road test and recheck alignment.

Adjusting Lower Control Arm

This involves elongating the mounting holes on the control arm to move the lower ball joint in or out.

Control arm adjustment

Control arm showing elongated mounting holes

Tools needed:

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wrench set
  • Hammer
  • Punch tool
  • Rat tail file

Steps:

  1. Lift the front and support it on jack stands.
  2. Remove the wheel and disconnect the lower control arm.
  3. Use a hammer and punch to elongate the mounting holes toward the center of the vehicle. Go slowly and check frequently.
  4. Test fit the control arm and adjust camber as needed by continuing to elongate the holes.
  5. Once the desired camber is reached, reinstall the control arm and torque all fasteners to spec.
  6. Reinstall the wheel, lower the vehicle, and test drive.

Best Practices

Follow these tips to properly adjust camber:

  • Adjust both wheels even if only one side is off to keep alignment balanced.
  • Adjust in small increments and check often to prevent over-correcting.
  • Recheck alignment after adjusting to confirm specs are in target range.
  • Don’t over-slot holes as this can weaken the mounting points and cause looseness.
  • Have an alignment shop inspect and finalize your adjustments for best results.

Camber Adjustment Kits

Aftermarket camber kits allow more adjustment range by replacing factory mounting points with slotted plates. Popular options include:

  • Eccentric camber bolts – Offset cam bolts to pivot the strut.
  • Crash bolts – Slotted plates to elongate strut mounting holes.
  • Control arm shims – Spacers to angle the control arm and wheel.
  • Adjustable upper control arms – Arms with ball joints that can be moved in or out.

These kits are relatively easy to install and give precise control over camber settings. They allow lowering vehicles substantially while maintaining proper alignment.

When to Seek Professional Help

While DIY camber adjustment is possible in many cases, you should seek professional help if:

  • You lowered the vehicle significantly, as this requires alignment expertise.
  • There is crash damage or bent components. These likely need replacing.
  • You are unable to achieve desired settings through DIY methods.
  • The vehicle pulls to one side persistently after adjustment.
  • Tire wear continues despite correcting camber. Other factors like toe may be off.
  • You don’t have the tools, skills, or ability to safely work on the suspension.

Alignment shops have the tools and know-how to accurately diagnose issues and optimize your camber and alignment settings for your particular vehicle. This gives the best driving experience and tire wear results.

Conclusion

  • Excessive negative camber causes tire wear, poor handling, instability, and pull.
  • Inspect camber with the eyeball method, inclined plane, or digital protractor.
  • Adjust camber at the upper strut mount or lower control arm. Use small increments.
  • Consider aftermarket camber kits for more adjustment range.
  • Seek professional help for collision damage, major lowering, or inability to achieve desired settings.

Proper camber alignment is crucial for safe handling, tire life, and preventing uneven wear. Carefully inspecting and adjusting alignment within factory specifications improves grip, stability, and steering. With some DIY methods and tools, negative camber issues can be successfully fixed at home in many cases.

Key Takeaways

  • Worn suspension components are the most common cause of negative camber.
  • Inspect camber with the eyeball method, inclined plane, or digital protractor before adjusting.
  • Adjust camber in small increments using the strut mount or control arm slots.

Citations: [1] https://youtube.com/watch?v=JQK3OIqMN3w [2] https://youtube.com/watch?v=o1dsEVjRI5w [3] https://askcarmechanic.com/how-to-fix-negative-camber-on-front-wheels/ [4] https://www.focusfanatics.com/threads/fixing-rear-negative-camber.256779/ [5] https://www.polarisgeneralforum.com/threads/negative-camber-wearing-out-tires.41762/ [6] https://youtube.com/watch?v=d5nYrtd92yE

Similar Posts