The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling: Part VI, Adding Negative Camber
By Mike Kojima
In the first 5 parts of this series you learned some basic steps to improving your car’s handling. The first four steps involved the use of basic performance suspension parts available for most cars, the parts that most people with an interest in handling obtain. Been there, done that? Then it's time to head for more advanced suspension tuning, involving the alignment, chassis stiffness and suspension geometry.
Step Six: Add Negative Camber
Adding negative camber the MotoIQ way should be done methodically to enhance cornering power and road holding. Getting a lot of camber so you can be Hella Flush and have stance is sorta dumb to us. Sometimes when seeing those pictures from the “all about stance” crowd with credit cards in the fender gap, I want to roll my eyes. At least that's my opinion, for all of the Stance Nation out there, do what you like and all the more power to you, just don't think your car is going to grip or drift better because of it!
|Negative camber is shown on the left when the tops of the tire tilt inward. Positive camber is on the right where the tops of the tires point outward. Dynamically, negative camber improves grip in a corner unless it is over done.
For a tire to grip well it must use its entire contact patch. Thanks to problems like tire distortion and production car compromised suspension geometry this rarely happens. When a tire is subjected to side load its sidewalls flex, digging the outside tread into the ground and lifting the inside. If you drive hard, you have probably noticed that the outside edge of your tires gets chewed up much faster than the rest of the tread.
|This picture really shows why negative camber helps grip. Look at the heavily loaded outside front wheel of this Sentra. The tire is so distorted, it is practically rolling over and the rim is almost hitting the ground. The tire's outside shoulder is loaded heavily and the inside of the tread is lifting off the ground. Effectively only about half of the tire's contact patch is being used. The result, a big loss of grip and grinding understeer.