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Toe Adjustment Guide

3/21/2017
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Adjusting for toe-in always seemed like a mysterious and complicated task to me (there is technically quite a bit of geometry behind it). Until I did it one day and realized it’s only about making small adjustments. Again and again. And again.

Toe-in is when two front tires slightly point towards the centerline of the car (towards each other). This helps the car drive straight. The front tires of a car should have around 1/8" of toe-in.

We happened to have the coupe on a lift, but any solid level surface is fine. We put a jack under the front axle to raise the weight off the tires. Then with a can of spray paint on the ground in front of the tire, we spun the tire in place while pressing the spray nozzle. This left a fresh silver mark on the tire.

Quickly, we set a tool down in front of the tire which extended a thick needle out to touch the tire. As we spun the tire again, the needle left a mark in the wet paint. This ensures that even if the wheel itself is bent, you are still getting an accurate line. Now spray and mark the other front tire.

With a toe-in gauge, (an adjustable straight bar with measurement tips on each end) we resized the bar until we got the measurement tips to line up with the scratched line on both tires.

Then we placed the toe-in gauge behind the front tires. Using the same length of bar, we looked at where the measurement tips hit the scratched line on the tires from behind, if they hit at all. Ours was off by an inch. So we loosened the jam nuts and adjusted the tie rod length. We kept moving the gauge to the front of the tires and then back behind the front tires, and adjusting the tie rod length to have a 1/8" toe-in.

I drive the coupe A LOT so I know how it should sound, how it should feel, how it should ride. So I generally know when something is wrong. Our roads aren’t the greatest in Lincoln, so when it starts to bump-steer or wander within my lane, I’ll double-check the toe-in and make sure the front end jam nuts are tight. Getting this right can even help with fuel economy.

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