Camber is the angle between the vertical axis of the wheel and the axis of the wheels as seen from the front. If the wheel leans outward at the top, camber is positive. If the wheel leans outward at the bottom, camber is negative. Most vehicles come from the factory with camber set slightly positive in the front and negative in the rear.
Camber can cause tire wear and pulling. Camber that is set too positive will cause a vehicle to pull to that side and can also cause excessive tire wear on the outside edge of the tire. Camber that is set too negative may cause excessive wear to the inside edge of the tire.
Most workshops use high-tech equipment to measure camber and other alignment angles. However, you can measure camber at home with a digital camber gauge.
Part 1 of 2: Prepare the vehicle for measurement
- Long Acre Racing camber gauge
- Free Autozone repair manuals
- Jack stands
- Protective gloves
- Chilton repair manuals (optional)
- Safety glasses
- Tire pressure gauge
Step 1: Prepare the vehicle. Before measuring the camber, park the vehicle on a level surface.
The vehicle should also be at its normal curb weight, with no excess cargo and the spare tire must be properly stowed.
Step 2: Adjust the tire pressure. Check and adjust the tire pressure according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
You can find the tire pressure specifications for your car on the tire placard mounted near the driver’s side door, or in your owner’s manual.
Step 3: Check the camber specifications for your vehicle. Camber is measured in degrees. Check the alignment chart to confirm the desired camber measurements for your vehicle.
This information can be found in the vehicle repair manual and can be used to confirm whether your camber is within specification.
Step 4: Check your vehicle for steering and suspension wear. To check for excessive wear, put the vehicle on jack stands. Then, rock the wheel up and down, as well as side-to-side.
If you feel any play, ask an assistant to rock the wheel so you can determine which parts are worn.
- Note: Determine which components are worn and replace them prior to measuring the camber.
Part 2 of 2: Measure the camber
Step 1: Attach the camber gauge to the spindle. Point the wheels straight ahead. Then, attach the gauge to the wheel or spindle based on the instructions that come with the tool.
If the gauge comes with a magnetic adaptor, ensure that you attach it to a surface that is square with the spindle.
Step 2: Level the gauge. Turn the gauge until the bubble at the end of the gauge shows that it is level.
Step 3: Read the gauge. To read the gauge, look at the two bubbles in the vials on either side of the gauge. They are marked + and -. The line near the center of each bubble indicates the camber reading. Each line denotes 1/4º.
- Tip: If you have a digital gauge, simply read the display for the measurements.
If you prefer to have the alignment checked by a professional instead of buying a costly tool to do the job yourself, ask for help from a mechanic. If you notice uneven wear on the tires, get a certified mechanic from YourMechanic to inspect them and rotate them for you.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Measure Camber and was authored by Mia Bevacqua.