[E-Type] Hard to steer? Get your car aligned

Hi guys,

We’ve had a bunch of discussions over the past years about
tire width, diameter and type. Some say the car wanders with
tire x and they are much happier with y. Others say that
they can’t turn the wheel…the force needed is too much.
Etc., etc.

Get your car aligned.

In the past two days I’ve covered a lot of ground with
alignement. No changes were made to my tires (FYI they are
Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S in 225x60-15 on 6’’ Dayton rims).

My steering had been very heavy. I wasn’t worried as I knew
that I needed an alignment. It drove straight but was very
heavy.

Then I adjusted my ride height and replaced my tie rod ends
(Thanks Dick Maury!!). Suddenly the car was skating. With
one finger I could have done donuts or a j turn. The car
still drove straight but was looking for an opportunity to
do otherwise (not by itself but a butterfly could pull a
u-turn).

Then I got the car aligned today. WOW. It is perfect. Just
the right everything. I couldn’t be happier.

So I’ve weighed a ton, floated like a butterfly and now
sting like a bee! Seriously I had no idea how drastically
your car’s characteristics will change with a fraction of a
degree here and another bit there.

You can get whatever you want from your car with any tire
you choose…if you alignment matches your desires.

Fundamentally the tire is a small (insignificant?) part in
this equation. The setup is everything.

We’ve been pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

Larry–
Larry Wade 62 OTS, La Canada, California USA
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In reply to a message from Larry Wade sent Thu 29 Jul 2010:

Firstly I suppose I ought to check what exactly you mean by the
term ‘alignment’ in this thread?

Regardless of whether you mean tracking alone, or a full
track/castor/camber/centering four wheel geometry work-up, I’d
certainly agree that ‘alignment’ is important and without that
being correct, everything else is going to struggle and be a
compromise.

However, empirical observation tells us that you can notice the
effect of soft or over-hard tyre pressures on steering weight, ride
and handling. You can also drive into a tyre place with one set of
tyres and drive out on another set fifteen minutes later that feel
very different - with the alignment unchanged of course.

So tyres and pressures do have a noticeable role, if not the major
one. But yes, if you start out with dud tracking and get it fixed,
the car is transformed. My D-type replica was the worst I had. It
was ultra-twitchy on the 100 mile drive home from purchase and the
engine was farting, popping and spitting through its triple Webers
in town. With the carbs tuned and the tracking done it was no soft
cruiser but it was very well mannered by comparison.

Pete–
The original message included these comments:

Fundamentally the tire is a small (insignificant?) part in
this equation. The setup is everything.


69 E-type OTS 5-speed, 99 Daimler Super V8,
Cambridge, United Kingdom
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In reply to a message from PeterCrespin sent Fri 30 Jul 2010:

Hi Pete,

As you note, by alignment, I do mean setting the toe, castor
and camber.

Tire pressure, type and size are not negligible by
themselves. However their effect on handling is small
compared to the impact that your specific toe, castor,
camber setting will have.

Without changing anything else I experienced a brick,
driving on ice, and perfection. The changes made to toe,
castor and camber were pretty small in quantity (at least to
me) but incredible in effect.

Having good tires is a good idea.

However when you don’t like the way your car handles, look
to your alignment. It (and the condition of your bushings,
etc) is way more important in determining how your car handles.

Larry

PS Basically I’ve just rediscovered what racers have known
for a long, long time. I’d knew the theory but this is the
first time that I’ve experienced the reality. Wow!–
The original message included these comments:

Firstly I suppose I ought to check what exactly you mean by the
term ‘alignment’ in this thread?
Pete


Larry Wade 62 OTS, La Canada, California USA
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In reply to a message from Larry Wade sent Fri 30 Jul 2010:

And now you know why folks paid me fairly handsomely to spend
critical hours in setting up their race cars’ suspensions.

I learned a saying from The Old Man: Tune your suspension and
you’ll gain a hundred horsepower!

:)–
The original message included these comments:

PS Basically I’ve just rediscovered what racers have known
for a long, long time. I’d knew the theory but this is the
first time that I’ve experienced the reality. Wow!


Paul Wigton, steward to a '60 DKW 1000 SP, Tweety, '63 FHC!
Keenesburg, CO, United States
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In reply to a message from Wiggles sent Fri 30 Jul 2010:

… and then replace the two rusty U-joints in the steering
shaft. It makes a BIG difference! I thought that everyone
who autocrossed an Etype must look like Popeye. Now, not so
much… and you don’t even have to turn it by hand back to
center.

Lester–
http://tinyurl.com/mqlgly '66 4.2 FHC
Louisiana, United States
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In reply to a message from Larry Wade sent Fri 30 Jul 2010:

Larry,

My experience exactly with alignment. First and cheapest thing to
do to improve handling.

But tires also make a huge difference. If your alignment is out,
tires won’t make much difference. If it’s right, the right tires
can mean seconds per minute on an autocross course. And the feel
of the car is transformed. Every time I change from the
Vredesteins to the Bridgestones there is a big difference!

Car & Driver had an article where they took a stock Miata (and
Mustang and Toyota) and national champ autocross cars. They
changed parts one by one, and by far the biggest difference in run
times was when they changed the tires. A small difference when
they changed the shocks. Pretty much everything else made no
difference (driven by the national champ drivers).

What you mean to say is that if your alignment is wrong, you can
really crap up the car. If it’s right, tires can really improve it.

Jerry–
Jerry Mouton '64 FHC 889791 ‘MIK Jaguar’
Palo Alto, California, United States
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In reply to a message from mouton sent Sat 31 Jul 2010:

Jerry,

What was the name of that alignment shop south of San Francisco
that you mentioned that actually understands what camber,castor,
and the like do?

That is as opposed to the folks that just do what the alignment
computer tells them to…

Thanks, James–
James 1963 XKE Coupe
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In reply to a message from SFjames sent Sat 31 Jul 2010:

James,

That would be Custom Alignment in Mountain View. And there’s
another good place on the other side of the bay but I’ll have to do
some research to find it again. Custom is within walking distance
of my house!

Jerry–
Jerry Mouton '64 FHC 889791 ‘MIK Jaguar’
Palo Alto, California, United States
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