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Motorsport Wheel Alignment: String Alignment

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String Alignment

03.19

00:00 - One of the most cost effective ways of performing an accurate wheel alignment is to use a string alignment system.
00:06 This technique involves using string or nylon run down each side of the car, parallel to the car's centreline.
00:13 By taking accurate measurements from the front and rear of each rim to the string, we'll be able to calculate the toe.
00:20 I know that a lot of people think that using string to align the car seems backyardish, particularly compared to a professional wheel alignment machine that uses laser beams or cameras.
00:30 However you may be surprised to know that this is a technique that's used by even professional motorsport teams to do their alignment.
00:38 When used correctly, it's immensely powerful, very portable and can be very cheap.
00:44 There are a number of professional string wheel alignment rigs available from a variety of manufacturers and these provide a low stress, easy to use system that can be quickly adapted to a variety of cars for a pretty modest outlay.
00:57 Taking string alignment to bare basics though, all you really need is four jack stands, some nylon or string and a steel ruler.
01:05 As you can probably guess, not only is this equipment cheap, it's also very portable.
01:10 While we can get by with just four jack stands and some nylon, it's an advantage to also include a pair of alloy bars that we can use to attach the strings to.
01:19 The reason this is helpful is that we can then cut slots into these bars at exactly the same distance apart and then support these bars on our jack stands at the front and the rear of the car.
01:30 This makes sure that our strings are an equal distance apart at the front and rear of the car, or in other words that our strings are parallel to each other.
01:37 The professional string alignment setups come with machined alloy bars that include a range of slots to suit cars of different track width and a handy addition is that these bars are threaded together which makes it easier to split them apart for transport.
01:52 It's also completely possible to make your own bars out of some cheap aluminium extrusion though.
01:57 We will go through the specifics of using a string wheel alignment system shortly, however the basic idea is that we set up our two strings running down each side of the car.
02:07 By making careful measurements with our ruler, we can then move the bars back and forth until the measurements from a reference point on the front and rear of the car are the same which means that the strings are then parallel to the car centreline.
02:20 We do want to make sure that the strings are set at the same height as the centre of the wheel and we also want to ideally have the strings around 20 to 40 millimetres from the rim to make it easier to take measurements accurately.
02:33 The initial setup can be a little tedious, however once the strings are set up, it's very easy to take measurements and work out our toe at the front and the rear.
02:41 Unlike using toe plates which we'll deal with later on, the string alignment system allows us to measure toe on each corner of the car independently, rather than just measuring the total toe on an axle.
02:53 This allows us to ensure that the toe is equal side to side and avoids a situation where the steering wheel isn't straight when we're driving in a straight line, or worse still where the car crabs down the racetrack.