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Old 08-03-2005, 09:04 AM   #1
Hexx
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auto-x setup...new suspension on its way

Hey all,
I wasnt sure if I should put this thread here or in the auto x section...but since this is more of just the suspension setup for auto-x, i figured I would throw it here.

Heres a little background on the car. 2005 Ford ZX3 S w/steeda sts, and marcy CAI. It is my daily driver/auto x car. So reliability is a concern.

That aside, I just bought some used SVT parts that are/should be on their way to me. I just needa pick up the shocks/struts now.

So since I will have the SVT setup in my car, with sway bars, I was looking into the camber/caster adjustments.

I also have stock tires right now, but hope to grab a set of rims and tires this winter, for next year. So dont worry about tire wear too much.

The parts I want to get are these (unless there is something better): http://www.steedafocus.com/store/cat...mberPlates.htm

and

http://www.steedafocus.com/store/cat...berKitRear.htm

Now, I do know a bit about alignments, and stuff. With the focus though, is it better to have more or less camber/caster? And what setups I guess are you guys running?

Also, will having this (and me adjusting it for just autox events) force me to get an alignment everytime from a shop? I dont feel like spending $55 each event for JUSt an alignment. Can I safely adjust it for the event, and adjust it back to the original spec without having to hook it up to a computer?

How many of you do this? And what are your thoughts?


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Old 08-03-2005, 09:28 AM   #2
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It is better to have more camber and caster, within limits of course. Especially with soft-sidewalled stock tires you are going to want them to be square as possible through the tight corners, although you don't want to push it so far that you can't get any appreciable accel/deceleration because the wheels are on their sides. That's where Caster really helps, because it will give you progressively more negative camber the more lock you wind on, while giving you stock levels of camber when you are braking and accelerating with the wheels straight. Caster will also give you better self-centering characteristics and better feel/effort with your steering. (It will be easier to meter out the correct level of steering with more effort to work against)

Also, you definitely want more camber on the front tires than on the rear so that you can get the car to rotate as much as possible and help with understeer. I would say 1.5 - 2.5 out front and half that in the rear.

As for alignment, as long as you get quality pieces that do not slip and give correct readings you should not have to go back for regular alignments. You should be able to change your camber settings on race day and back when you leave without changing your other settings.

One other factor to consider is toe. You will want toe-out front and rear. Just a bit up fron to improve turn in, and more out back to encourage rotation and make the overall handling more neutral. Whatever you can do to get this chassis more neutral is good for you, although it will take more skill to control and then exploit that neutrality...
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Old 08-03-2005, 01:35 PM   #3
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To echo what Carrera26 said, a competitive car will have very aggressive alignment specs which will include a lot of chamber, toe out on both the front and rear, and minimal caster. These settings will not be appropriate for a street driven car. The car will react very quickly to any steering input and at highway speeds will wander and not track straight. In other words it will be an arm full and would require utmost attention at all times. It will also cause considerable tire wear. A good compromise would be to go with the minimum caster, the most toe out (or leave it zero (neutral) on front and rear) and the maximum camber permitted "within the factory alignment specifications". Just make sure everything is even (same camber on both front, same camber on both rears, same toe front, same toe rear, etc.).As you learn how to do an alignment in a parking lot (it can be done but you really need to know what your doing) then you can go to more agressive specs. If you're a beginner learn the nuances of driving first then the elements to make you more competitive later. A good driver in an average car will beat an average driver in a fast car every time in autocross.
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Old 08-03-2005, 04:26 PM   #4
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Geezer, why "minimal" caster? Why wouldn't he want to increase the caster to increase camber on lock? Also, I have noticed you always spell it "chamber" which I have never seen before.

Also, he is right about getting yourself good and really learning your car before jumping into the mods and setup. This is my second season and only now am I heading out to get a performance alignment. I know from experience now just what characteristics I need, and in what measure...

You should also go pick up, or at least read, a good book on suspension setup/geometry. That way you will be able to know why you your car is reacting the way it is and what can be done to correct it.
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Old 08-03-2005, 07:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Carrera26
Geezer, why "minimal" caster? Why wouldn't he want to increase the caster to increase camber on lock? Also, I have noticed you always spell it "chamber" which I have never seen before.

Also, he is right about getting yourself good and really learning your car before jumping into the mods and setup. This is my second season and only now am I heading out to get a performance alignment. I know from experience now just what characteristics I need, and in what measure...

You should also go pick up, or at least read, a good book on suspension setup/geometry. That way you will be able to know why you your car is reacting the way it is and what can be done to correct it.
the book idea is pretty good. Im always looking for things to read up on. As for doing the alignment itself, I have been told on newer cars, leaving it to the computer is the best way to go....and have been told by many that its almost impossible to get newer cars aligned perfect.

I can do it on my 81 camaro I know that, I've done that before with my bro...its not difficult. But yeah, I dont plan on getting heavy into this til next year. Im just doing pre planning ahead of time so I know what I can expect, and what products I should look for.

I def want a setup that I can change back for street use and have VERY minimal tire wear on the streets. On the track I dont care. By next season I'll have some slotted rotors, and a good set of track tires only...so I dont mind harsh wear on the track tires...just dont wanna kill the road tires for the work day on monday

What products would you guys suggest I look into for decent suspension changes. I have the SVT kit on its way. So it would be used with that.
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Old 08-04-2005, 10:38 AM   #6
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Carrera26, You're right, you will get maximum camber (yea I can spell sometimes) at full lock with maximum caster but how many times are you anywhere near full lock on a solo course or anywhere for that matter? Max chamber is much more critical on a road course or an oval where more momentum is generated due to higher speeds being carried into a corner. Naturally more weight shift occurs under these conditions and max camber is far more critical. There was a good article in Grassroots Motorsports some time ago that discussed the camber differences between road race and solo cars. Basically it said that most solo cars don't use the maximum camber that most drivers dial in and it may actually be hurting them by reducing the effective contact patch of the tire in most corners. Finding that magic setting that allows you to utilize the whole tire and not just the inside edge is a science.

Most of my experience is with a Mazda Miata, which as you may know is one of the finest handling cars made. Minute suspension adjustments have major impacts on how this car reacts. Five degrees of caster keeps this car going straight as an arrow. Reduce it to four and you change lanes when you sneeze. Most guys solo it at 3 to 3.5 degrees. I have never experienced this myself but I can only imagine what it must be like ( and mind you this is not with any radical toe settings).

Caster is a strange adjustment. In simple terms increasing caster is like increasing the length of your wheel base. The result is better straight line performance. Ideal for highway blasting and super ovals. Reduce caster and naturally straight line performance is diminished. Reduced caster combined with neutral toe or toe out (especially in the rear) and things start to get really exciting really quick. In most cases these extremes are totally impractical for street driving. Thats why for beginners staying within the manufacturers specs but at the outward perimeters of those specs that provide the performance edge desired is a good starting place. Even within these perimeters you may experience street tire wear but not anywhere as quickly as with true performance alignment specs.

Hex, As I said learn to drive what you have. The SVT suspension is a decent starting point. If you're a fast learner you may want someting with more adjustment options. When you feel you need more have one of your local hot shoes (find someone who has placed at the SCCA national leval or runs the SCCA pro solo tour) drive the car and listen carefully to his or her recommendations. You may find you need to do very little to take it to the next level. On the other hand you may need to talk to your loan officer before you can do it right. And most importantly take advantage of all the schools your region or organization provides. Also ask (beg) to ride with the better drivers in you area. Offering to pay for fun runs (if you have them) is a good way to do this.
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Old 08-04-2005, 11:42 AM   #7
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I think that having more caster/camber will be more important in this situation due to him having the soft-sidewalled stock tires. If he was running something serious, I could see him using less and relying more on the tire's natural grip. Only reccomended about 2 degrees anyway, and I don't think the stock suspension will allow much caster, and so when I say "max" and am saying he should try to get what little he can.

Of course, most of it is moot anyway because we are both saying to wait until he has a feel for his car anyway...
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