DIY Wheel Alignment/Camber setting


Staff member
Being one who would rather keep as much of my money in my pocket as possible and totally pissed off with taking my car to places to be stripped of £100 just to check alignment and camber I thought I'd give the DIY method a go.

I recently had all my front suspension off (standard struts and camber bolts) to fit new track rod ends and fitted it all back up using the measurements in the manual as a rough guide.

Once all back together it was quite obvious that the front camber and alignment needed some serious attention. So I thought I would just sort out my front alignment on a temporary basis just so I could get the car to a “specialist” to sort both alignment and camber out accurately.

Knowing that the back wheels were straight I centered the steering wheel and made a clamp to lock it into position. I got 2 axle stands and a string plumb line, doing one side at a time I put a stand at the front and a stand at the back of the car, then tied one end of the plumb line to the rear stand pulled the line taught across to the other stand so the line was resting (just) on the outer most points of both front and rear tyres. It was obvious that the front required adjustment and you could see which way it needed adjustment. Anyway, I set them to 0 + or – a nats, was quite careful and did both sides the same.

I then took the car to the garage for JUST an alignment check and according to the specialist it was spot on (stun, shock and amazement)

This encouraged me to try and make some sort of equipment to do it again and also try and gauge the camber.

Whilst trawling the net searching for clues I came up with these few threads that make very interesting reading

Although I understand the basic’s, all this trigonometry is a little over my head, but using some basic and readily available materials (Laser lines/digital levels/steal rules e.t.c. e.t.c)

I know Jim uses a steal rule and a calculator, which is all well and good but there must be someway to make something up that accurately actually tells you the set camber.

Thoughts ?


Staff member
I can e-mail you my excel spreadsheet.... when I said calculator, I meant Pocket PC ;-) It could be done on a calulator with pen and paper but that would be a pain.

For what its worth:

Camber gauge construction:
1m plank of wood
very fine cotton
one nut
one towel

tie nut on string.
Leave about 2m of string and stick the other end to the end of the plank
stick towel on body work
sitck wood on towel
wind up the cotton onto the plank so the nut rests just above the floor
move plank back so the string is clear of the wheel (body work is fine)
Wait for it to steady

1. Measure rim diameter
2. Measure the top dsitance from wheel to string accurate to nearest 0.5mm
3. Measure the top dsitance from wheel to string accurate to nearest 0.5mm

enter 1, 2 and 3 into the spreadsheet and get camber accurate to 0.1degs.

The accuracy comes from using trig so the wider the wheel, the more repeatable the measurment. The cheaper gauges work on the principle of getting a bubble centred so are accurate to about 0.25deg unless you have a really accurate bubble.

TBH, this would be good enough for me but spending £50-£100 on something less accurate never appealed to my pocket

Assuming you have sufficient space though, I like this idea you posted as it takes account of non level surfaces but I'd want to use a board about 1m long.

It uses the same principle as me but I put my calculation in excel

Jon Olds

Well-Known Member
when I was young and poor, I used string all the time to setup my racing mini. worked a treat. Have dunlop gauges now, but string is good.....


Jon Olds said:
when I was young and poor, I used string all the time to setup my racing mini. worked a treat. Have dunlop gauges now, but string is good.....

are you now old and rich then jon:lol:

i used the same principle as this when aligning wheels on my race bike, after removing rear wheel! o
bviously a little different to a car but involves the same principle with the string etc
Last edited by a moderator:

Jon Olds

Well-Known Member
ha, if I hadnt spent every penny Ive earned on motorised toys, I might have been....
The way I did it is to chalk on the ground at the lowest point ojn each wheel. Measure the front/ear track. Half the difference and set the strings parallel on the wider axle, and measure the gaps on the narrower axle.
If that makes any sense