Track adjustment

You know it - the tire runs off on one side, the steering wheel is slightly crooked and the car pulls to the left or right. Adjusting toe and camber solves this problem, which may have a massive impact on driving physics. The toe is the position of the right and left wheel in relation to each other, the camber is the angle of the tire perpendicular to the road. In the following article you will learn how you can check toe and camber yourself and which tools you need for this.

Author: Adrian Starr
Position: Sales
Updated on: 21.11.2023

Toe and camber: a brief explanation

Toe is the position from the left to the right tire on a common axis. If the two tires are parallel to the longitudinal axis of the car, then this is called zero toe. If they turn inward (i.e. they would roll towards each other), then it is called toe-in. If the tires are outward (i.e. would roll away from each other) then that is toe-out.

One Zero lane is not normal - most cars have a toe-in or toe-out.

  • Rear-wheel drive: Toe-in (inward inclination)
  • Front-wheel drive: Toe-out (outward tilt)

How does an incorrectly adjusted track become noticeable?

If the track is badly misaligned, the car noticeably pulls to one side. That means if you let go of the steering wheel while driving,  the car does not go straight but pulls to the left or right. Many drivers unconsciously correct this steering tendency of their vehicle. Then you can recognize the wrongly set or misaligned track on one-sided worn Tires.

Depending on the vehicle type, the track to be set is in the range of angular minutes. So it doesn't take much to change the track. A faster  Collision with the curb or a pothole can result in a blocked track. If the steering wheel is in a different position after such a hit, you should check the alignment.

Help with the tires tire wear indicators, the so-called TWIs (Tread Wear Indicators), to determine damage. These TWI are easy to find on the tread of the tire. They are marked with an arrow on the tire sidewall so that they can still be found when the tire is worn out.

The remaining depth of the longitudinal profile grooves, in which indicators are embedded, is measured at this point. These indicate whether the tire is still roadworthy. This profile depth must be the same over the entire width of the tire, otherwise the tire is more heavily loaded on one side and thus worn down. A toe adjustment restores the correct wheel position.

Adjust toe: vintage car

An ideally adjusted track in turn ensures better grip on the road, which is noticeable in driving behavior. The car runs smoother and the steering reacts more precisely. A perfect track also contributes to your own safety. Classic vehicles in particular benefit from pleasant handling and precise steering. A comprehensive treatise on wheel alignment can be found in the specialist book by Vogel-Verlag.

Adjust the toe: adjust the front axle exactly

Making the toe adjustments on the vehicle is not magic in itself, even if it sounds complex at first. Above all, to get to know the car and its components better and to understand how the parts work together it is worth doing it yourself.  In addition to the cases of damage described above, adjustment of the toe is always necessary when work has been carried out on the front axle.

Adjusting the axles or chassis is not part of the regular maintenance work on a car. It's only when your vehicle warps a bit, for example after driving into a deep pothole or over a curb, that it's time to adjust the alignment to improve driving physics and avoid tire wear.

The basis of all work on the vehicle geometry are good tires . First check the tire pressure and set it to the values ​​specified for your vehicle. If the tires are severely or unevenly worn,  the tires must be changed before measurement. Tire damage thwarts the axle adjustment. Therefore please pay attention to:

  • Too low tire pressure ...
    ... results in strong Fulling, i.e. the inner work of the tire components among themselves. This increases wear and fuel consumption due to high rolling resistance.
  • Tyre pressure too high...
    ... reduces the contact area between the tire and the ground and thus the grip.Tires also wear out very quickly.
  • Sawtooth formation
If you use the If you feel your palm over the tires and their tread surfaces, and you feel a noticeable transition in one direction of movement, the tire has saw-teeth formed. The cause is usually imprecise wheel guidance due to worn components, including shock absorbers. This defect must be remedied before it makes sense to adjust the chassis.

Adjust the track: tools and knife devices

There are several tools and devices that enable the adjustment of the track even for hobby mechanics without the technical possibilities of a car workshop. In the following you will find out more about the measuring devices and tools and whether they are suitable for classic and collector's vehicles.

Note: in some cases, mistracking is the result of worn chassis components. Then the repair quickly becomes more complex and expensive. If you are not 100% sure about the diagnosis and repair, you should visit a specialist workshop and have the chassis damage assessed in connection.

Set track: Measuring plate for quick answers

The 9 mm Measuring plate is a professional tool that provides quick information about any track offset completely mechanically and without batteries. Pointer and scale indicate the exact value of the deviation.

The device stands in front of the tire to be measured, i.e. in front of the front axle on the smooth and level ground. You drive back and forth a few times so the wheels line up. Rock all four corners of the car to relax the suspension. Then drive forward another two to three meters without turning the steering wheel - this way you rule out any outside influence.

Then drive slowly and straight onto the plate, without braking or steering, until you are fully standing and centered on the device. Stop and pull the handbrake, unintentional rolling away can also be prevented with a wedge. If the pointer deflects into the red area, then the toe must be adjusted.

If the toe of a front wheel deviates significantly from the opposite, this can have the following causes:

  • sloping ground
  • different tire pressure
  • tires that have been hit unequally
  • Worn out wheel bearings
Different measured values ​​for the same wheel can arise for the following reasons:

  • uneven ground
  • Steering wheel movements during test
  • Jerky movement of vehicle
  • Vehicle was not properly leveled before collision
  • Suspension was not moved through before test
  • Vehicle could roll backwards
  • Worn out wheel bearings
  • Heavy or uneven tire wear
  • Incorrect tire pressure

Tip: The measurement will be even more accurate if you place a board or metal plate that is about the same thickness as the measuring plate under the tire, which is not currently being measured. This will prevent the small difference in height caused by the meter.

Toe setting: laser for precision measurements

In professional wheel alignment, a measuring tool is used to precisely determine the ideal toe setting of the front axle with laser technology. Most measuring stations work very easily on vehicles with a minimum ground clearance of 100 mm and a maximum wheel size of 22".
The measurement is made in degrees and minutes (1 degree = 60 minutes) and is compared with the manufacturer's specifications. It is no problem to carry out a measurement using laser technology on the classic. A sensor on each tire measures its own position and the distance to the other sensors/tires and calculates the necessary settings from this.

Adjust camber: check the axle setting

With many axle types, for example rigid axles, the camber cannot be adjusted. With swing axles, for example, the camber depends on the load on the vehicle. Modern axle designs have a defined camber under a defined load. This can be checked with a fall scale.
The camber scale or camber scale helps to precisely determine the camber on the vehicle. The car is standing horizontally on a flat and smooth floor, a magnet ensures that the scales stick to brake discs, for example. Basically, the fall scale is a spirit level that is excellent for comparing measurements (before/after or right/left).

Conclusion: set the track with the right tool

It doesn't always have to be the specialist workshop if you have some knowledge and manual skills yourself. With the right measuring tool, you can adjust the toe and check the camber. An ideally adjusted chassis rewards you with longer tires and more precise steering, more traction, safety and driving pleasure - whether with the new car or the classic.


Here you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions at a glance.

Where does a warped Track at the car?

An incorrectly set track can have several reasons:

  • Collision with potholes
  • Riding on curbs
  • Working on the car, e.g. replacing Chassis components

What is the point of an ideally set track?

A correctly set track ensures a more precise steering and better traction. An iideal wheel alignment is therefore indispensable for more driving pleasure and safety. The fuel consumption also remains within the usual limits.

What tools do I need to set the track?

  • poss. a tire pressure gauge
  • a measuring device or laser technology to measure the track
  • a wheel camber to also check the camber

Is wheel alignment a standard service in garages

Yes, most tire shops have measuring platforms with which the vehicle and its Have the axle adjustment checked. It's always worth taking a close look at the tire profile to discover wear. With correct alignment you can save money on a new set of tyres.

What about collector's vehicles?

Checking the track should be part of the annual check for your classic car, because only with ideal track or camber can you really enjoy the driving pleasure thanks to pleasant handling and precise steering.