View Full Version : DIY: DIY front toe settings

old guy
11-06-2011, 06:39 PM
Anytime you dismantle and reassemble your front suspension (control arms, wheel bearings, coil-overs, tie rods, etc) it’s a really good idea to check your front toe settings. This is something that you can do yourself with a few basic tools and some attention to detail. Tools needed:

18mm open end wrench
22mm open end wrench
Two 24” straight edges
One paint pen
Two tape measures
Angle Calculator (http://www.csgnetwork.com/righttricalc.html )(clicky)




OK….Let’s get started. You will need to find a level area to park your car. Pull your car up to the designated position making sure that your car is aimed in a straight line. It is important that the car is aimed straight. Don’t worry if the steering wheel is off center. We will address that later on in the procedure.

The next step is to place your two 2’ straight edges against the outside of your front tires. I would recommend that you find some method to snug the straight edges tight against the front tires. I have a one car garage so I pull the front end up to where the front wheels are centered in the door frame and then add a brace between the door frame and straight edge on both sides of the car. After you have snugged up the straight edges be sure to check the clearance between the straight edge and wheel on the leading and trailing edge of the wheel to make sure you are parallel with the wheel. Adjust as necessary.
Using your two tape measures note the difference between the front and back measurement. You will use this measurement to calculate your amount of toe-in (or toe-out). For discussion purposes let’s assume that your front measurement is 1/8” (.125”) less than your back measurement. This would indicate that you have .125” of toe-in in a 24” span. You now have two critical pieces of information to calculate your actual toe in degrees°. Using the Angle Calculator (http://www.csgnetwork.com/righttricalc.html ) insert .125” for side a and 24” for side b and hit calculate (be sure to set the decimal places to 3). This will give you a total toe setting of .298°.

Next you need to convert the degrees° to minutes’. One degree° is equal to sixty minutes’ so .298° times 60’ =17.9’. For reference the factory setting is 5’-15’ per side of toe-in for a total toe-in range of 10’ to 30’. Let’s say you want to go to 0° toe. This means that you will need to remove ~18’ of total toe. If your steering wheel is already centered you will want to remove 9’ of toe from each side. Before you make any adjustments you will need to mark one of the flats on the tie rod lock nut as well as the corresponding section of the outer tie-rod as shown in the above illustration. This will give you a very important reference point from which you will be making your adjustments. The adjustment nut has six flats. Each flat is equal to ~ 4.5’ of adjustment.

So in the example above, to remove 9’ per side (total of 18’) you will need to adjust the lock nut on both the left and right tie-rods by two flats each. Using the 18mm and 22mm open end wrenches break apart the lock nut and turn it two flats toward the outer tie-rod. Using the 18mm wrench snug up the inner tie-rod to the lock nut and you are done. If your initial readings indicated a toe-out condition you will have to move the lock nut in the opposite direction using 4.5’ per flat as a reference. Take the car for a spin around the block and re-check your two tape measurements to confirm the settings.

OK…Lets say that in the first step when you pulled your car up to where you are taking your measurements that the car is aimed straight but the steering wheel was canted to the right. No problem. If you are trying to reduce the total toe-in just make the total adjustment on the right side tie-rod instead of splitting it between the left and right side. If you are trying to reduce the toe-out make all the adjustments on the left side. Drive the car around the block and then return to your original point where you took your measurements. Double check your measurements and make sure they are where you want them. If the steering wheel is now centered you are good to go. If the measurements are good but the wheel is still off center you will need to do a little fine tuning. In order to keep the toe setting the same you will need to add turns to one side and subtract turns from the other side in equal numbers until the test drive gives you a centered steering wheel.

For what it’s worth I have found that ~4.5’ per side of toe-in (one flat per side from 0° toe) for a total of 9’ toe-in seems to give the best tracking for my car. I would like to keep the total toe as close to zero as possible without having the car wander. When I set it to 0° the front loses stability and requires constant minor left/right adjustments on the highway. By adding a minimal amount of toe the car tracks rock solid.

Have fun!

EDIT: 4/14/12 I took the car to the alignment shop today to check out how close I was able to get the front toe as well as the rear camber. My last adjustment of the front toe was to remove ˝ flat from each side which should have given me a total toe setting of +4.5'. The Hunter Alignment Rack showed that I had a total toe of +3'. I was extremely pleased with that reading especially considering the factory acceptable range is ± 10' of total toe.

01-14-2013, 05:22 PM
Had some serious tow-out....

Went 4 flats towards tow in.

Steering more light/nimble. Drives fine.

We'll see how tire wear goes![wrench]

12-11-2017, 01:41 PM
I just have to give this a 5-year bump as it worked wonderfully after I recently replaced my inner tie rods! I have no idea whether the new tie rods were significantly different in length than those I replaced (Lemforder=new, Delphi=old), but after inserting the outer tie rods in and counting the same number of turns as with the old ones, my toe was WAY off. I mean way. The car would barely move and had serious toe in. I am talking 347 minutes of total toe. So, I adjusted it to about 6' total toe-in. It's probably not perfect, but car tracks straight on the highway! My steering wheel is slightly kinked right, so I will go back to adjust it on both sides at some point.

Thank you old guy!