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· Registered
40 Posts
I couldn't find anything for Astro/Safari online, but here's an example of a frame alignment chart, (for a '79 Trans Am) just to give you an idea of how it's done: ... post5.html

As it shows, the measurements are taken from places such as suspension mounting holes. For aligning the rear-end, I would just pick a couple of similar spots -- like the leaf spring's forward mounting brackets. For extra insurance, I'd also pick a second location, such as the transmission crossmember. Measuring the axle relative to those four spots should be more than sufficient.

· Banned
11,262 Posts
OK. I did my own Wheel Align... :rockon:

Here's what I did. Drawing from a lot of suggestions from a lot of people, including one mystery
member that only communicates via PM... :naughty:

To square up the rear wheels, I measured from the rear bolt of the front subframe
to the front edge of the seaf spring perch. That measurement from both sides was
within 1/16 inch. I was a littls suprized, expecting it to be more. Somewhere I read
specs are within 1/8 inch so I left that alone.

To check the wheels side to side, I meaured from the back side of the brake plate
to the edge of the leaf, AND from the same brake plate to the edge of the perch.
Both sides were exact, or as close as I could measure (about 1/32) to the perch.
To the springs there's a difference of about 3/32. Again, within 1/8 inch so I
left that alone as well.

Sorry, no pics of that portion.

Here's how I set the toe in for the front.

Tire pressure equal all four at 35 psi.
I centered the van as best as I could in my sloping, crowned driveway. Then drove forward
and allowed it to roll backwards in neutral while I held the steering wheel centered. Hopefully
this would center the wheels (another suggestion from right here as ASDC).

I tied a piece of 20ga electrical wire between two jack stands, just a little longer than my wheel base.
I did this for each side, I'll only show one side in the pics. Set the jack stands and move the wire up or down
till it crosses the center of each wheel. The REAR jack stand can go "around the corner" of the rear tire,
sort of like the thumbtack solution maher uses.

With the wire touching the rear edge of the REAR tire, I moved
the front wire in, towards the front tire, till the wire touched the
REAR tire in two places, and the FRONT tire at it's rear. If I had toe in,
this should leave a gap at the front between the wire and the edge of the tire.

One side was at about zero, no toe in or toe out. The other was about 1/4 inch toe in.
Spec is 3/32" +/- 1/16". I assume that the amount of toe in means "3/32 TOTAL" ie
one side plus the other side = 3/32 total. So I adjusted the tie rod connectors a half turn
at a time and then drove the van forward and let it roll back again in neutral, then checked.

It amazed me how little the tie rod adjuster needed to turn to make a BIG difference. I did
the whole process maybe five or six times, eventually moving the adjuster in 1/4 turn increments.
Eventually I ended up with 3/64 on each side or 3/32 total toe in.

Like I typically do, I labeled the nuts and bolts for wrench size. And in this case,
I labeled which way to turn the adjusters to move the tie rod ends in or out.

This pic is taken right side up, not the way I see it as I'm on my back, but the way
you'd see it if you had the van up on a rack.

Here's the driveway mechanic's view.

Whole thing took maybe an hour and a half, including a lot of laying under there and thinking
"how should I do this?"

Afterwords, I drove to the Scottsdale Whole Foods (nobody goes there, too expensive, so the parking lot is empty)
and drove down the flattest parts I could find to see if the van wanted to pull left or right. It didn't. Seemed to
make things nice and smooth and I noticed a reduced tendency to pull to the left that was present before I
did all this.

... :bouncy:


· Registered
5,339 Posts
Hey Lumpy,

I commend you on your efforts. Keep in mind that you are using molded rubber tires as your guides, and not setting up the front end from a hard part. When I did alignments way back when,

the equipment I used was attached to the rim of the wheel, and not the tire. If you look at a tire, well, let me explain another way; Set a front wheel in the air, put your jack stand out towards

the area you used to take your measurements, then rest a tool on the jack stand (like an artist would do with a stick) and put it up to the rubber. Just like you would mike out any rotating part.

Spin the tire slowly, and watch the gap between the end of your tool, and the rubber as the tire spins around. You may find your 3/32 or more in error by using the tire, depending on

where the tire is when you do your "alignment".

Now I'm not saying you are doing anything wrong. You will be able to get close enough until you can get the truck to an alignment rack. (That's good) But I just want you to realize what

you did not take into account. (I hope that this post is understandable, I have reread it several times, and still am not entirely satisfied, but right now it's the best I can muster.)


· Banned
11,262 Posts
RECox286 said:
... Keep in mind that you are using molded rubber tires as your guides, and not setting up the front end from a hard part...
Yeah, I know you're right.

I'm trying to come up with some kind of simple clamp on, magnet on, stick on thingie that I can
mount to the WHEEL instead of the tire. Sort of like those battery carriers or like the old time
Ice block hooks. Two blunt "hooks" that hook around the exposed edge of the rim while the
tire is still mounted.

If nothing else, I fount that the area on the adjuster that I found myself moving back and forth around
was eventually narrowed down to one basic spot. I'd go a slight amount this way, then next time a slight
amount that way etc.

I'm not nearly as concerned with that toe in as I was with that rearend track. I figured it would be
way out from the spring change.

Now I'm trying to milk a few months out of those little bitty tires till I can get some big guns on there.

Hmmm...some kind of metal thingie that I can attach to the wheel... :confused:


· Registered
5,339 Posts
JC Whitney used to carry a magnetic device that attached in place of where the wheel bearing dust cap goes. There were two vials at right angles which were used to determine

the angle of the bubble for caster and camber. I always thought it was like 100 MPG carburetors, but I supose it was better than nothing. They also had a tool for measuring toe.

Who knows, maybe the stuff is still available. Of course, not many of the OLDER cars are still available. Hence...


Hold on a sec. Just looked at the JCW site. Yep, still available.

· Registered
122 Posts
I've set toe with a tape measure on the tire tread. Only works with highway (straight tread) tires. Just pick a tread and measure the distance across the fronts of the tires, and the same tread lines across the rears of the tires. Difference should be 0-1/8". Not perfect for a couple fairly obvious reasons but I've had good luck with it. Of course drive around the block and make sure nothing crazy is going on before you hit the highway.
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