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Motorsport Wheel Alignment: Commercial Alignment Specialists

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Commercial Alignment Specialists

03.39

00:00 - Now that we've covered the fundamentals of the suspension system and how the alignment will affect the way the car handles on the track, we need to consider how we will actually make alignment changes.
00:10 In this instance there's really two options, we can leave our alignment to a commercial wheel alignment specialist or we can invest in the equipment necessary to do this ourselves.
00:21 Let's start by discussing a commercial alignment specialist and unfortunately here I'm probably going to make some enemies.
00:28 In my 20 odd years in this industry so far I've found that 95% of alignment specialists do horrible work and the results you're likely to get will be marginally better than guessing.
00:39 Now I'll back that up by saying that of course there are some excellent wheel alignment specialists out there but they are far and away outnumbered by those doing terrible work.
00:49 The problem is that most wheel alignment specialists are not familiar with working on competition cars.
00:55 Instead they spend their days aligning everyday road cars where the alignment specifications really aren't as critical.
01:01 Since modern cars are being built with less and less adjustability, aligning most modern road cars has predominantly come down to setting the toe and not much else.
01:11 The other issue I've personally struck is that many alignment specialists have relatively unqualified staff working the machinery, who are seemingly incapable of understanding the suspension system or thinking outside of the factory specifications that they're working to.
01:26 I think in some ways, the skill of wheel alignment is being lost and replaced with a machine that simply tells the technician which adjustor to turn until a measurement turns green.
01:36 This is not for us.
01:38 If you're intending to use a wheel alignment specialist, then I'd recommend finding one that is familiar with setting up cars specifically for motorsport applications.
01:46 These specialists will be few and far between but they do exist.
01:50 A great place to start is by asking for some recommendations at your local car club.
01:55 It's likely that there'll be one or two shops that the members use which can provide the sort of results that you're looking for.
02:02 Commercial alignment machines generally use a laser or camera system, combined with targets that are attached to the wheels, to accurately measure the camber and toe.
02:11 By turning the steering wheel a prescribed amount in each direction, castor can also be measured.
02:17 The car will be sitting on a four post hoist while the alignment takes place, allowing the technician to easily access any adjustment on the underside of the car.
02:25 Jacking beams are usually also included which allows the front or the rear of the car to be lifted off the hoist to make some of the required changes.
02:34 There is a belief I think that when we see a modern wheel alignment machine complete with multiple cameras or lasers, that we're assured a super accurate result The reality however is that while the technology behind the alignment equipment is well proven and yes they can offer great results, the equipment is only as good as the guy or girl using it.
02:55 The bigger problem with commercial wheel alignment specialists is that it's all but impossible for you to make changes to the alignment after you've had it set up.
03:04 Depending on what sort of racing you're doing and whether it's a dedicated racecar or your daily driver, this may not be the best option.
03:11 For example if you have your alignment set up for a dry track and then you turn up to an event to find it pouring with rain, you've got no choice but to accept an alignment which will not be optimal.
03:22 Likewise, if you want to make adjustments to your alignment to try and improve a handling trait, then you've also got no options.