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Motorsport Wheel Alignment: Camber

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Camber

05.09

00:00 - In this section of the course, we're going to start by covering the key terms you're going to need to understand when it comes to wheel alignment.
00:07 The majority of these are not overly complex and if you've spent much time around cars, you're likely to already have heard most of these terms.
00:15 Regardless however, we need to start at the start to make sure that we're all speaking the same language and that you properly understand the basics.
00:23 We can actually break this section down a little further since we're going to start by covering the more common aspects of wheel alignment and suspension terminology.
00:33 These are what I'd consider the nuts and bolts of wheel alignment, and we'll be dealing with these on a day to day basis.
00:39 For the sake of completeness however, we'll also cover some of the less obvious and less well understood aspects such as kingpin inclination and Ackermann steering.
00:48 For now though, let's get started with camber.
00:52 Camber is simply the angle between your wheels and a vertical axis through the wheel when viewed from head on.
00:58 And as such, that's typically expressed in degrees.
01:02 Negative camber means that the top of our wheel is closer to the centreline of the chassis in comparison to the bottom, while positive camber is just the opposite, where the top of the wheel is further away from the centreline compared to the bottom.
01:15 In motorsport it's very unlikely we'd ever use positive camber.
01:19 Camber will play a large part in the setup and handling of the car and it can be adjusted to help optimise the tyre footprint on the racetrack, particularly when the car is cornering.
01:31 If our car is running zero camber, then the wheel is simply straight up and down and at least while stationary, we have the most tyre contact with the road.
01:40 This might seem to be ideal and at least when the car's travelling in a straight line it is, however as soon as we begin turning a corner, things change.
01:48 During hard cornering, the suspension will compress, the car will tend to roll towards the outside of the corner and the tyre will deform on the rim.
01:57 With zero camber, these factors result in the car rolling onto the outside edge of our tyre and this will dramatically reduce the tyre footprint on the track while cornering.
02:07 If we add negative camber to the wheel, we'll reduce the tyre contact in a straight line, however when the car is now cornering hard, the body roll, suspension movement and tyre deformation mean that we'll now end up with more of the tyre contacting the road which increases grip.
02:25 Obviously if we have less tyre contact on the road in a straight line, this can reduce our traction under acceleration and braking.
02:32 So balancing camber to optimise cornering, without hurting our straight line performance is a big factor, when it comes to optimising our alignment.
02:41 In most instances though, there is more to be gained in cornering performance than there is to be lost under acceleration and braking, so we do tend to focus our camber tuning on cornering.
02:52 There are some other aspects to consider here such as suspension geometry that promotes negative camber gain as the suspension compresses into bump travel, or the steering wheel is turned.
03:04 This means that we can run less static negative camber in a straight line but still achieve an optimal tyre contact patch when the suspension compresses and the steering wheel is turned in a corner.
03:16 We'll discuss these concepts further into the course so don't worry about it for now.
03:22 Now you may also be thinking that if we're running negative camber on both sides of the car then under hard cornering, we'll actually have less tyre contacting the ground on the wheels on the inside of the corner, compared to what we'd have if we ran zero camber.
03:36 While this is true, it's the tyres on the outside of the corner that are most heavily loaded during hard cornering and hence these are the tyres doing the majority of the work.
03:46 To take this concept to extremes, it's not uncommon for example to see a rear wheel drive racecar lift a front inside wheel completely off the ground during hard cornering, demonstrating that the inside tyres are providing little, if any advantage to us in the corner and it's the tyres on the outside of the corner where we want to focus our efforts when we're maximising the tyre contact patch.
04:11 While too much camber can affect our straight line performance as discussed, too much negative camber can also be detrimental in cornering too.
04:19 Excessive negative camber means that we won't roll completely onto the tyre tread during cornering and we may only end up with perhaps half of the tyre contacting the road.
04:30 Another result of this is that we may overheat the inside edge of the tyre and quickly wear out an expensive set of rubber.
04:36 As you can hopefully understand, adjusting camber is a case of compromise.
04:41 It's important to understand that the correct camber for a specific car is also going to vary depending on a variety of aspects such as the suspension design, the tyre compound and tyre construction, the weather conditions and the track conditions.