Loki Motorsports’ Alignment Shakedown Thread.
In this write up, We will go into detail and get aligned (No puns intended) with how a vehicle’s steering really works. Organized by chapters, here are the topics that will be explained in this article.
Chapter 1: A definition of each aspect of a vehicle’s alignment to the grit. Example: What caster REALLY is, how it affects the geometry of your steering, and the vehicle itself.
Chapter 2: How each affect one another. Example: How your caster settings affect your camber as you increase steering radius. Or how toe can affect your camber negatively or positively.
Chapter 3: “Ideal” settings for a alignment on a drift car. This chapter will go into detail on what different setting parameters will suit YOUR driving style the best.
Chapter 4: The importance of how having a good alignment can make or break a car that is specifically set up for drift.
Chapter 5: Credits for this article.
Quick introduction here before we get started:
-The intent of this write-up is to give people who are new to the drifting world a sense of direction as far as adjusting the alignment settings for their car properly.
-Also, to give those of you who already have a good understanding further information, and maybe even help you out also.
-This article will be suitable for anyone, any skill level, and any driving style.
Chapter 1: Definition of alignment terms.
CAMBER: Adjustable for both front and rear wheels. Camber is a measurement of the vertical tilt of a pair wheels and is measured in degrees. Also adjusted directly with ride height.
When the tops of the wheels are leaning toward each other when viewed from the front, this is called negative camber.
When the tops are leaning away from each other, it is called positive camber.
Camber will also change as the suspension is compressed or decompressed:
When compressed, Camber will increase NEGATIVELY.
When decompressed, Camber will increase POSITIVELY.
For a drift car, negative camber is normally used in enough of a amount so that when at crank lock (full steering lock in one direction) the LEADING wheel IS, or is as close as possible to 0 degrees.
A wheel at 0 degrees of camber at crank lock is going to recieve the most amount of grip possible when drifting.
Negative rear camber will give less contact patch on the tire in the rear, thus providing less rear grip. (Usefull for underpowered cars)
TOE: Also adjustable for both the front and rear wheels as a pair. Toe measures the “spread” of the front or rear set of wheels.
Like camber, toe is measured in degrees “Out” or “In”.
Toe OUT will cause the wheels to face outwards of eachother when looking the a vehicle from the front.
Toe IN will cause the wheels to face inward towards eachother when observed from the front.
Toe plays a large part in how a vehicle will handle also, for example:
Increased toe-in will reduce oversteer, steady the car and enhance high-speed stability.
Increased toe-out will reduce understeer, free up the car, especially during initial turn-in while entering a corner.
For Forza Motorsport characteristics, toe OUT for the front wheels will also allow you achieve deeper vehicle angle when drifting, and will also make the vehicle steer smoother when in angle.
Because in essence, you are providing the vehicle more steering lock in each direction depending on how many degrees it is set for.
While not completely proportional, for example: if you give the vehicle 4.00 degrees of toe out for the front wheels, you are thereby increasing steering lock by 4.00 degrees also.
For the REAR, toe OUT will make the car drift slower, because of tire drag, but will also make the car more stable and less “twitchy” while in deeper angles.
Caster: Probably the least universally understood term when speaking alignment. Adjusting it ONLY affects the FRONT wheels.
Caster is the angle of the steering pivot, measured in degrees. Most easily viewed from the side, the caster is the tilt of the steering axis.
When the center of the wheel is in front of the load the caster is positive.
And consequentily, when the center of the wheel is behind the load the caster is negative.
It’s not as complicated as it may seem when put in simplistic terms.
Caster can affect straight line performance detrimentally, but for drifting (since we are always sideways :)…) is alot simpler to understand.
Caster is (in the simplest terms) essentially the adjustment of camber as steering radius increases or decreases. It is most affected when at crank lock one direction.
The farther you are steered one direction, the more it positively affects your camber.
Ackerman: While not a adjustable perameter in FM6, Ackerman plays a large part in how a car handles and tracks.
Ackerman is the measurement of the degree of steering spread at crank lock one direction. (Also measured in degrees)
For example: If the leading wheel of a vehicle has 38 degrees of steering angle at crank lock, and the trailing wheel has 30 degrees… There would be a “8 degree Ackerman spread” for that car. (38-30=8 degrees)
Chapter 2: How each parameter affects one another. (The most confusing part, hang in there!)
HOW CHANGING CAMBER AFFECTS TOE: Assuming your caster setting is perfectly vertical, (no positive or negative caster). Toe is NOT affected whatsoever when adding positive or negative camber.
Now lets take that same mentality and add sayyy, 3 degrees of positive caster. (Moving your wheel forward from center. At this point when looking at the side of the vehicle, your strut will be tilted slightly towards the front of the car.)
Now, go back to the starting point of zero castor and zero camber, and add a bunch of castor (move the upper pivot point for the steering towards the rear of the car).
Next, move the same upper pivot points closer together (add negative camber), now think about what has happened to the relationship between the distance between the outside of the front of the wheels and the distance between the backs…
You should see that (on the level plane) the fronts are considerably farther apart than the rears… you’ve introduced toe-out that you didn’t get when the castor was zero.
Since this is an additive/multiplicative affect, on a very small base measurement (toe angle), then relatively small castor changes/differences (even just the difference in stock, non-adjustable tolerances) can result in significantly different toe angles when you try to generalize from one car’s setup to another (they’re never exactly the same, and the difference counts).
HOW CASTER AFFECTS CAMBER: Camber and caster are directly connected. Caster will increase/decrease camber as the tire turns or rotates on the king pin or steering inclination angle. (SIA)
The more caster, the more camber change throughout steering lock to lock. Example: higher caster (5 degrees, more SIA angle) while turning, the inner wheel will become more positive camber while the outer wheel will have more negative camber.
Straight initial camber can be much less (<1 deg) because of the higher caster.
In simple terms, you can achiever more camber by effectively using less of it, while having a higher caster setting.
Chapter 3: Ideal drift car settings for alignment. (In Forza talk)
CAMBER SETTINGS: Generally, (In FM6) you will want to give the front anywhere from -1.0 to -3.0 degrees of camber.
(This is in preperation to create a near flat leading wheel at crank lock, hense… the most grip possible while sideways.)
And depending on how much power the vehicle has you will want to add negative REAR camber accordingly.
This will make the car “feel” like it has more horsepower, because you are taking away contact patch on the tire to the road, therefore less grip.
Note: Some people prefer using POSITIVE camber. This is not frowned upon, however it is not correct alignment geometry. Positive camber for the front will cause the car to “Self steer.”
Self steer is when the steering wheel wants to return back to center position on its own, without any assistance from the driver. It is essentially a handicap.
TOE SETTINGS: Toe settings in Forza are a bit more personalized by the tuner, and driving style. Same applies for real life tuning.
If you are the sort of driver who prefers to drift for the show (deep vehicle angle, lots of smoke, and low speeds) then lots of toe OUT is for you.
Assuming you are tuning a car for these parameters, you will want to increase FRONT toe OUT to give yourself that extra little bit of steering angle, and also make the car smoother when in deeper angles.
Your turn in will also become more responsive with toe out. You may feel as though the car is “twitchier” at shallower angles vs. not having lots of front toe out. But deep angle is really where Toe out shines.
As for rear toe settings, toe OUT in the rear will make the car drift slower, because you are creating more tire drag, but will ALSO (like front toe out) make the car more stable at deeper angles.
CASTER SETTINGS: As we talked about before, caster basically adjusts camber as you increase or decrease steering lock. So, With your camber settings being set at a certain degree for the front.
You will want to open your in game telementary where it shows alignment angles and degrees. Now, we will be focusing solely on front camber for this adjustment.
When you are drifting, you will want to observe your leading wheel’s camber number. The idea is to set this at, or as closely as possible to 0.00.
When drifting, if your camber is still at a positive angle when at crank lock, you will want to DECREASE the caster setting in your tuning parameters.
GENERALLY, most cars will be close to 0.00 camber at lock with -5.0 degrees of front camber, and ABOUT a 3.5 caster setting. However, In FM6, I have found that using less caster makes the car much less stable, so I have been generally running ALL cars at 7.0 degrees.
EXAMPLE FOR WHAT A WELL TUNED CAR MAY LOOK LIKE: For this, I will give away one of my tuning setups. (What the hell right? I’m trying to help out the community.) I generally don’t give my tunes to anyone.
Tuning setup for a Nissan S13 (coupe). SR20DET powered with around 540 horsepower. Full suspension upgrades, Stock tires, Upgraded width all the way for front and rear.
Front: 4.0 OUT
Rear: .6 OUT
This tune provides a very smooth, deep angle, slow speed car. Some people prefer faster cars, with less angle. Your tune will NOT look like this when setup correctly. Again, this is just how I personally prefer to setup my cars. And is intended as an example for this style of drifting.
Chapter 4: The importance of a tune for a good drift car.
A tune really can make or break your style, driving ability, and skill level in Forza Motorsport. Almost ALL of the veteran forza drifters, will tell you that they tune their own cars.
Why Is that so important you ask? Because EVERYONE has a slightly different driving style. Some people like to go slow, some fast. Some like deep angle, some don’t.
This is the reason mastering tuning is essential for you as a driver to get better and succeed. You will need to hone your tunes over time as you get better and feel ready for more horsepower cars, etc.
Also, this is why most people’s tunes don’t feel PERFECT for another driver. Because you can not directly mimic the abilities or style of another.
Chapter 5: Credits for this article.
WRITER: Anthony Bartolini GT: xSoGxGhosT. With the help of Kyle Stryker GT: EndlesSCTSX
PICTURES: Google Images. They always come through for me.
THANK YOUS: Everyone on the Forza Motorsport Forums. You guys are awesome, and were part of the inspiration to write this behemoth.
And a personal thank you from us here @ Loki Motorsports for taking the time to read, and hopefully better understand vehicle tuning and alignments.