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Camber, camber, camber... It has always been big talk in the suspension world. Whether looking for that performance edge in the twisties, or a couple of extra millimeters of tire clearance, camber can do wonderful things. But it isn't always the answer. Aggressive camber can cause excessive tire wear, slow a race car, and just plain look bad with the wrong stance or wheel fitment.
That being said... how the heck do we get camber on the xB?! Well, lets start with the front. The simplest way to adjust your front camber is with simple camber bolts. These bolts replace the factory bolts that attach the lower strut mount to the front spindle. Adjustment is achieved by rotating the eccentric bolt within the mount to achieve the desired camber change and then locking it into position.
This is a very simple swap, but the amount of adjustment you can achieve is limited. Swapping out only the upper bolts you can achieve about 1 degree of negative or positive camber. By swapping out the upper and lower bolts you can achieve about 2 degrees of positive or negative camber. Nothing at all extreme, but it can help in cornering and give you that little extra clearance for low offset wheels. Just be sure that if you do adjust your camber, that you get an alignment at the same time. Adjusting camber can throw out your toe settings. And bad toe settings will go through tires even faster than aggressive camber.
The next option for the front suspension are what are called camber plates. It is usually difficult to find these as individual parts available for sale. Almost all camber plates are designed to work with a specific suspension by a specific manufacturer. And in most cases those camber plates are used in conjunction with coil overs. Some can be purchased separately (Cusco), but may have to be modified to work with your particular suspension components. (Another, usually more costly option, is to modify the suspension components to work with the camber plates.)
So how do these plates work? First you must understand what they replace. These plates take the place of the typical upper strut mount. A typical upper strut mount is a triangle shaped (for simplicity's sake) stamped steel plate with three studs that bolts to the strut tower. The shaft of the strut is in turn bolted through the center hole of this upper mount. There is usually little, to no adjustment in a factory strut mount.
With an adjustable camber plate, you still have an upper mount with three studs that bolt to the strut tower, but instead of a single drilled hole they have a larger open slot with a smaller open slot on either side. These plates are typically built from billet aluminum and machined into the required configuration. They also have a second piece that mounts below the upper plate. This is the adjustable portion of the camber plate.
This lower portion typically consists of a housing plate to hold a "pillow ball" (spherical bearing) as well as 4 studs. These 4 studs fit into the smaller slots of the upper plate while the pillow ball rests between in the large slotted hole in the center. The design of the two pieces allow the studs to slide from one end of the slots to the other. This is where you achieve your camber adjustment when they are mounted in the car. One end of the slots points toward the engine compartment, the other the fender. Moving the lower plate toward the engine provides negative camber
adjustment and away provides positive. When the desired position (camber) is achieved, simple nuts on the 4 studs lock the lower plate into position.
The pillow ball in the lower mount plays a very important role in the process. This spherical bearing is where the strut shaft is bolted. If there was no bearing in place the suspension could either end up in a bind, or not bolt together at all. Because the two plates allow adjustment in a flat plane and not along an arc the strut shaft is no longer meeting the upper plate at the factory specified angle. The flexible rotating
nature of the spherical bearing allows for this angle change and provides a means
to successfully mate the strut shaft with the lower plate.
Using most of the camber plates on the market you can achieve about 3 degrees of negative camber. Some even allow for a degree or two of positive camber to be dialed in. This is getting closer to the limits of what is workable on the streets without running into problems. You must certainly get an alignment if you want to run this much camber. And your toe will definitely need to be adjusted.
And now I know there are some of you camber fanatics out there just drooling over the fact that camber plates and camber bolts work independently. And some of you are wondering if they can work in conjunction. The definitive answer is "maybe." There are a lot of factors to consider when getting as extreme as 5+ degrees of negative camber on a MacPherson type suspension. Will your struts allow for the use of both camber bolts and camber plates? Are you going to have clearance issues with your wheel and tire choice? Are you going to be able to get the rest of your alignment close enough to spec. to actually drive the car?
And what about camber change throughout the suspension cycle? With the MacPherson strut there really won't be enough to notice. Yes, there will be some slight change if you have an extreme suspension cycle like that of adjustable suspensions (air bags). But for the majority of people out there, this wouldn't and shouldn't be a concern.
And the last topic on the front suspension... Short cuts. People always ask for them. They always want to know how to save themselves a buck or a minute, even if it means headaches later. I will say that there is one "short cut" worth considering. And that would be an alternative to the camber bolts. If done correctly you can substitute undersized GRADE 8 bolts and lock nuts. These should also be used in conjunction with a large enough washer to cover the mounting hole. If done right, this can work just as well as camber bolts. If done poorly this can lead to
disastrous catastrophic failure.
Wow... all that, and we haven't even talked about the rear suspension yet?!
At least it is a little more straight forward. You really only have one option and that is a camber shim. And there are three types of camber shims. There are fully adjustable shims (Ingalls), there are fixed half shims and there are fixed full contact shims (One Ton Garage or Keoki).
All three types mount between the torsion beam (axle) and the hub. The fully adjustable shims only allow about 1/4 to 1 1/2 degrees of camber or toe adjustment. Not really enough to be noticeable. They can get you within spec if you are out, or provide you just a little added clearance for your wheel and tire choice. This type of shim requires the complete removal of the hub to install.
The half shims install in the same location between the hub and axle. However, to install these, you need only to loosen the bolts and not completely uninstall the hub in most cases. The shims simply slide in place in order to adjust camber and toe. (Top = Positive Camber, Bottom = Negative Camber, Front = Positive Toe, Rear = Negative Toe) The adjustments are minor and about the same as the adjustable shims, but with less flexibility.
Half shims can be stacked as well in some cases, but require you to change out hardware in order to make up for the thickness of the shims. Using half shims also allow you to run both camber and toe shims.
The last type of shim is the full contact shim. The scion community is probably most familiar with these because of the likes of One Ton Garage, Garson and Keoki. These shims require the complete removal of the rear hub similar to the adjustable shims. However these are usually fixed thickness shims designed to change the suspension geometry in a very specific way. Negative camber of 3 to 5 degrees can be achieved using off the shelf parts. If you want to go more extreme, custom shims can be made to get the negative camber into the teens! (Definitely not for daily drivers.)
The one thing you also need to consider when talking about rear camber is that any of the options will push the wheel out a bit. The top will be pulled back in by the added camber, but the wheel center will still be pushed out compared to stock.
And well... I guess for now I'm spent. But that should give you a good run down of the basics. And just for reference, here are a couple resources. I'm far to lazy to go through the trouble of hunting down websites and contacts. But if you know how to use the search function in the forums as well as any internet search engine, you should be able to find what
you are looking for.
Lots of others, just have to be able to buy them separately
Grade 8 Hardware:
Any good local hardware store.
Adjustable Rear Camber Shims:
Rear Half Shims:
Quality local auto parts store.
Rear Full Contact Shims:
One Ton Garage
I will say this:
Camber doesnt cause excessive wear, just uneven wear. It only appears excessive since one side of the tire is worn and the other isnt. This is obviously because that side of the tire is used more than the other if you are running camber. If you have someone who KNOWS what their doing with an alignment your tires will last you just as long as they wouldve had you not had camber. They will still be worn in on the inside but that is because the outside isnt being used as much.
Cliffnotes: Make sure your toe is set perfectly and you wont have tire issues.
I have been meaning to get back here and the to the other site I posted this on, but just haven't had time.
You are absolutely right. I should have been more clear about tire wear, and how different aspects of alignment affect it. Camber will cause uneven wear as you stated. Camber in combination with incorrect toe will lead to the excessive tire wear.
Also a big thanks to Dan from Ingalls Engineering. He messaged me and brought to my attention the issues related to running standard hardware store nuts and bolts in place of the factory, or aftermarket camber eccentric bolts. Grade 8 is actually a weaker bolt than what Toyota uses with a factory install. And by switching to a smaller diameter bolt, you are only compounding the problem.
The factory bolts are class 10.9. Dan suggested that if you choose to install smaller diameter bolts as opposed to factory, or aftermarket eccentrics you order at least a 12.9. And just so everyone knows the eccentric bolts that Ingalls offers are 14.9.
Actual Rear Cross :
Cross Camber: 0.3*
Total Toe: 0.69*
So as you can see, with only a mild drop the entire alignment (front and rear) was out of spec. This may not be the case for everyopne, but was with my wife's car. And much of the reason why it may be out of spec. could be the factory. Depending on what specs. the car was delivered with will make a great difference. If the car was right at the end of a specified range, making any modifications could put you over the limit. As occured with my wife's car.
It really isn't that big of a deal though. Unless you get lazy like me and don't get the alignment checked. If you have a good relationship with a local shop, most will check your alignment for free, and only charge if it requires adjustment. I just did this yesterday because we purchased new tires for the wife's car.
The shop checked her alignment in under a half hour and didn't vharge me a dime. It was out of spec, and they did not have the parts to adjust it. They offered to grind down the factory bolts in the front, but could do nothing in the rear. I knew this wasn't the route I wanted to go and where to get the right parts.
I ended up ordering two camber bolt kits for the front and two adjustable full contact alignment shims for the rear from Summit racing. The part numbers are I-81260 for the front camber bolts and 32400. Because I got them to price match my total was only $44.85 shipped instead of $58.79.
Now when the parts come in, I will take the car back to the shop to get aligned. The parts will allow the shop to get evrything easily within spec. without having to any grinding, or "hack" work. And I could even run additional camber if I chose while keeping the rest of my alignment in check.
So after all that, what is my advice? Just get your alignement checked to be safe. If you are within spec., great. If not, you know and can do something about it.
So I have a pretty much stock box, and am looking at either the skunk2 or the tanabe df210 lowering springs. And I am wondering if I will need the camber bolts or plates. I still have the stock 15in wheels, just want to knock the box out of four-wheel drive.
im looking to run a little negative camber in the rear cause of some tire rub. i read on the parts page that the rear is adjustable from OEM.. meaning i dont have to buy anything? if this be the case, does anyone know how this is done?
the reason i dont want to shim it is cause it rubs from where it sits now. if i spaced it out a bit id still have the same issues..
also note *my wheel/tire combo 16x8 +15 on 205/50r16