Basic Drift Chassis Setup Part 3
By Mike Kojima
Alignment is one of the most important things in getting your drift car to handle correctly and a subject that is mangled quite a bit on internet forums. It is important to make your alignment adjustable. In the case of you having a popular car like a Nissan S chassis you can get adjustable front tension rods, rear toe, traction and camber links all off the shelf from companies like SPL Parts and Battle Version. If you have a car with MacPherson struts in the front, you can often get camber plates. Ground Control Suspension has camber plates for many different cars.
|Costa Gialamas uses Smart Strings to set up Matt Powers' S14. Smart Strings are one of the best things to happen since sliced bread. They allow precise alignments to be done in the field quickly.|
If you have a car without much aftermarket support, Ingalls Engineering, KMac and SPC all make adjustable alignment parts so you can make non adjustable things adjustable for most cars. As a warning, stay away from camber bolts, they use a small diameter bolt with a cam on it and have a tendency to stretch and slip on cars that are driven hard. One way to make the camber adjustable on MacPherson strut cars cheaply is to drill out one of the spindle bolts slightly. Then you can tilt the spindle inward while tightening up the bolts. Surprisingly this will not slip as long as you tighten the stock bolts fully. This can get you a couple of degrees of adjustment.
Once you make your car adjustable you can try these basic alignment settings. These are settings that are good for drifting and are not necessarily good for everyday street driving. Rapid tire wear on the street may occur. However you will probably get better tire wear when drifting!
|Mike Kojima uses a Smart camber gauge to set the camber on Dai Yoshihara's Falken Tire S13. The smart camber gauge is one of the best ways to set camber in the shop or in the field. It can also be used to set caster.|
3-4 degrees negative camber helps put the tread flat on the ground when under side load. Under load, the tire's carcass wants to flex and lift the inside of the tread off the ground. Also as the car rolls, it wants to tip the tire to where the inside of the tread is being lifted off the ground. The car’s suspension geometry tries to make up for some of this but it cannot totally compensate. Running negative camber compensates for this. By keeping the tread on the ground you get better front grip and less understeer. You don’t want your drift car to understeer if you can help it. If your car has multilink front suspension, you can use closer to 3 degrees of negative camber, strut type suspension can use closer to 4 degrees. Don’t run crazy amounts of negative camber, like demon camber hellaflush style, it’s going to hamper your front grip.
|Negative camber on the left and positive camber on the right is illustrated here. Modern tires should never be run with positive camber. For a drift car you want to run 3-5 degrees of negative camber.|
|Although it is “cool” to run tons of negative camber, please leave that to the hellaflush show guys. Demon camber hurts performance.|
For more on drift chassis setup read “The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling”