The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part Seven – Tuning your Toe

The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part Seven- Tuning your Toe

The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part VII – Tuning your Toe

By Mike Kojima

Previously in our series we were talking about general tips for you to follow when tuning your suspension.  In our last installment we talked about adjusting your camber to gain more grip.  Today we will talk about an easier and more basic adjustment that has a great influence in handling, adjusting your toe settings.

To read the rest of the series, click here!

Tune Your Toe

Toe refers to the direction a car’s tires are pointed relative to each other when viewed from above. Toe in means the front of the tires are closer to each other than the rears. The opposite is toe out.

The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part Seven- Tuning your Toe
From the left to right, toe in, toe out and zero toe as shown from above looking downward.  Of course this is the front wheels but you can also tune toe on the rear wheels with good effect as well.

Fine tuning toe settings will allow a measure of control that is often overlooked. It also has a significant effect on how a car behaves in a corner. Front toe settings make a big difference in how a car handles in the first third of the turn, the critical turn in phase where cornering force is initiated. Rear toe settings can be critical for helping a RWD car get on the gas on the exit of a corner harder and sooner.

The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part Seven- Tuning your Toe
Toe adjustments are not well understood but can make a big difference and can be used to help you go faster in all motorsports from autocross, to road racing, to rally and drifting.

The cool thing is that toe settings are probably one of the easiest alignment settings to do and all cars are toe adjustable with the exception of rear toe in cars with beam and solid rear axles.  This makes it so you can experiment with different toe settings and get a feel for how they affect chassis balance.

3 comments

  1. Practical tip: after using toe plates double check your work by placing a toe plate on the front and rear wheel on the same side of the car with the steering wheel pointed straight ahead. Lie on the ground and sight along the toe plates. Do the same on the opposite side of the car. This will show up any large errors in your toe plate alignment. It’s easy to turn a turnbuckle in the wrong direction and not notice if you skip this step. Also, be aware that changes in camber may or may not change toe. And ride height changes can affect camber and toe. So after lowering your car off the jackstands you need to bounce it at all four corners or drive it a short distance to make sure the suspension has settled back to its normal ride height. This last step is especially important if you have poly bushings which tend to have some initial resistance to rotation (hint: poly bushings occasionally need to be taken apart and greased). One last tip: On your street car if you see feathering on your tires (tread blocks wear into a wedge shape) you have a toe problem. On your track car if you have tire chunking (pieces of tread break off the tire carcass) you may have a toe problem.

  2. when you refer to 1/8 or 1/4inch adjustments are you talking about just one side or the total amount of both left and right wheels?

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