How to Perform Wheel Alignment by Yourself
How to Perform Wheel Alignment by Yourself


Hi. I’m Mike from 1A Auto. We’ve been selling auto parts for over 30
years. What’s up, guys? I’m Andy from 1A Auto. Today I’m going to show you a couple different
tricks and techniques on how to adjust your alignment temporarily before you can get to
a repair shop. In case you did any kind of front end repair,
this’ll get you by for a little while. As always, if you need parts for your vehicle,
click the link in the description, and head over to 1AAuto.com. All right, so we’re checking out this vehicle,
and we found the outside edge of this driver’s tire is excessively worn. The alignment on this vehicle is off a little
bit, so we’re going to see if we can adjust it to improve it. All right. Before we start, you’re going to want to make
sure you’re on a flat, level surface. You’re going to want to make sure all your
tire pressures are accurate. I’m going to take two pieces of cardboard
per side so that I can sit the front tires on and they’ll be able to swivel back and
forth a little bit easier. I’ll set those right there, and we’ll do the
same for the other side. All right. Just going to back the car up a little bit
so it’s centered on the cardboard, then I’m going to take the steering wheel, I’m just
going to go back and forth with it. Try to get a center with the steering wheel. Get it as close as you can to center. That should be good right there. Shut the vehicle off. All right, so we took a piece of string, we
wrapped it between two step-stools. You could use a milk crate. You could use a jack stand. We want it fairly far apart. What I prefer is when I’m near the tire to
be able to move the string in or out, so about arm’s distance from where the tire is is helpful. I want the string about to the center height
of the tire. On this vehicle, it’s a little bit more than
a foot, so we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that for both sides. To set this up, you’re going to get this pretty
close to the tire. I want to try to get it, with a tape measure,
about an inch from the center cap or something common on the wheel. Move it a little bit closer. All right, so that’s about an inch right there. I’m going to do the same for the back one. Make sure that string is tight, and you want
to make sure it’s not touching anything. You can get it as close to the car, but just
make sure it doesn’t touch. That looks pretty good right there. And then, we’re going to do the same on the
other side, but for this side, we want to get about an inch from the center there, and
the same on this one, about an inch. This is about 1 1/4, so we’re going to move
this one back a little bit. Try to get it closer. That looks pretty good. And then, before we make any adjustments or
anything, we’re going to measure in between these two strings. Put the tape measure there, and we’re at about
66 inches right here. Then we’ll check the front one. It’s about 67 in the front, so we’re just
going to move the back out a little bit to square it up a little more. Oops. That’s about 67, so that’s good right there. Now we can come to the front of the vehicle. I’m going to measure the back side of the
rim. That is about 1 1/8. So, that’s 1 1/8 of an inch, and the front
is a little bit more. That’s about 1 3/16 of an inch in the front. And then we can do the same for the other
side. What we want is we want the front of the tire
going in about 1/16 from the back, so at this point we would want to adjust the back side
tie rod. We would want it to be loosened up so that
it pushes the front of the tire out on this vehicle. Different vehicles are going to have different
adjustments, but at least that would get us close. That’s about 1 1/4, and that’s 1 1/4. Yeah, 1 1/4, and the front one is toed in
about 1 3/4, which this is almost 1/2 inch in, which is way too far, so this has to be
adjusted. To be able to adjust that right front wheel,
I have to turn the steering wheel all the way to the left. So, I’ll just turn the key on, turn the wheel
all the way to the left, then I can access the tie rods. All right, so we’re going to adjust the right
front tie rod in. If you come underneath here, I’m just going
to take a marker just to mark where this is before we start in case we decide to go back
to scratch. Now I’m going to loosen up this nut right
here. I’m going to use a 21mm wrench. Obviously, this would be different for different
vehicles. Loosen this up. Now, because this was toed in about 1/2 inch,
what I’m going to do is I want to tighten up this tie rod, so I’m going to take some
pliers, and I’m going to turn this like this. I like to start with about quarter turns,
so that’s about a quarter turn. Although, this was pretty far off, so I’ll
go a little bit more. Then we’re just going to snug this up. You could leave this loose and check it, but
it’s not going to be as close. A little bit easier if you just snug it up. You can tighten it down later. All right. Now I’m going to turn the wheel back to straight,
and then just shake the wheel back and forth. Just make sure it’s even in the middle. You can even start it up. Just make sure it’s pretty accurate, and that’s
good. So, rechecking this, it’s about an inch on
the back side of the wheel, and about 1 3/8 on the front side of the wheel, so we did
move it a little bit. We’d like to have moved it a little bit more,
so I think I’m going to loosen it up and then turn it a full turn and see where we’re at
after that. All right, that’s about a full turn. All right. So after tightening that, your tie rod, a
whole turn, we’re at about an inch, a little bit, about 1 1/8 on the back side of the wheel,
and about 1 1/4 on the front side of the wheel, which actually isn’t too bad. You could get it a little bit closer. That’s one way to adjust your alignment and
get it close so you can go down the road, not burn your tires out quite so bad, but
you still want to go to a shop and have it aligned. I’m going to show you another method of how
to check the front alignment just to get it close. Use a tape measure. You’re going to have a partner on the other
side underneath the vehicle. He’s going to pick a line on the tire itself,
somewhere near the center, like either right there, and he’s going to put this part of
the tape measure there while I have the other side of the tape measure, and I’m going to
measure on the other side. I’m going to turn the wheels straight first. All right, so my friend is over there on the
other side, and he picked one of the lines. He’s close to the center, and I’m going to
look at this line right here. So we’re at about 59 1/8. That’s on the back side of the tire. You want to make sure the tape measure’s not
bowing or anything in the middle. It’s a straight sight. Now we’re going to check on the front side
of the tire, so let go. Sorry, Mike. Now that I’m on the front side of the tire,
and my buddy is in that same groove from the front side, and the same groove on this side
is about 1 1/16, which is actually pretty good. So, the difference between the back and the
front is about 1/16. It could be a little bit tighter, but that’s
going to at least get us by. Before we performed this alignment, the steering
wheel had to be like this going down the road to go straight, so we’re going to drive it
around and see how it goes now. All right, so now we’re going down the road
straight, and as you can see, the steering wheel is straight, so we significantly improved
this vehicle’s alignment. It’ll get us by a little bit longer before
we get to the repair shop. We set this vehicle up the same as we did
the Ford Focus. We put the string, and we had performed some
front end repairs. The suspension has been replaced on this vehicle,
so we were going to just check it out and see how accurate this vehicle is. Take my tape measure. Now, this vehicle’s already set up. I’m about 1 1/2 on the back side, and then
about 1 1/2 on the front side of the wheel, which is good. The closer you are to the same from the front
to back, it’s going to be better. We should still have this aligned after. Here, we’re 1 1/4 on the front, and 1 1/4
on the back, so these wheels are going down the road straight. We know at least we’re not going to burn the
tires out driving this down the road. Thanks for watching. Visit us at 1AAuto.com for quality auto parts,
fast and free shipping, and the best customer service in the industry.

65 thoughts on “How to Perform Wheel Alignment by Yourself”

  1. Andrew Theissen says:

    Would braided fishing line be better?

  2. Jeremy's Toys says:

    Good channel. Thanks for sharing this video. Congrats 🎈

  3. chris ryan says:

    this was a very informative video.

  4. Michael Offutt says:

    Much easier to go tread to tread front and back of wheels with a tape measure, split the difference and once more to account for tie rod end being halfway to center from the tread.

  5. Maryann P says:

    Good job Andy❗️

  6. Ruben Castillo says:

    Thank you. Good info.

  7. Blake Doan says:

    Too much turning the wheels. It makes for more chances to make mistake or way harder than necessary

  8. John B. Desj says:

    What if a vehicle has rear toe-in? How can we make sure the strings are parallel?

  9. Research and Build says:

    Ive watched about 5 videos with the string method, and i think that method just stinks. Better to measure side to side in the front tires. But who knows..i guess no DIY will be as accurate as a shop and we are all relegated to 90 bucks and two hours per alignment

  10. Blake Doan says:

    the ford focus is a front wheel drive car. therefore it should toe out 1/16" not toe in

  11. Larry Fine says:

    Way too complicated. Just get a measurement at the center tread at back and front side of tires from under the car. It will get you close enough for a trip to the alignment shop.

  12. Master9 says:

    Good advice but I would choose a finer string line.

  13. lrenturn says:

    I did a wheel alignment years ago on my then 1963 Jeep truck. Lot's of room to work and job was pretty easy.

  14. Jordan Lee says:

    If wheel is different off set can this be done??? Example front is 8.5. Back 9.5 .. still can do this??

  15. Dtae Chronicsmoke says:

    Andy high asf

  16. jess [HTx] says:

    I wish I could work on my car by my self lol but I don't have enough muscles πŸ˜†

  17. Charkatak says:

    Hi! Thanks for the video! My car has 20k on it and tires are Hankook Ventus v2 Concept 2. These came with my car and still have normal thread. I know that usually alignment may be needed or advised when replacing 4 tires. Do you think when time comes to buy new tires and if I pick exactly the same tires that manufacturer put on my car, may I skip the alignment if car doesn't pull to either direction and there is no abnormal wear?

  18. xHouston Kingx says:

    Awesome video. One of my brothers showed me how to align doing the tape trick. I just eyeball it though then take it to get aligned. Thanks for sharing this informative video.

  19. Andy Panteli says:

    I use fishing line

  20. Donald Whiteman says:

    Great description, love the video.. thank you

  21. Rob Presario says:

    Could you not just hold a 4ft level horizontally against the front fenders and measure the front and back of the tire and make any adjustments if necessary based on those measurements too?

  22. Ram says:

    it is better to use the nylon thread

  23. R. T. says:

    colored fishing line would be better

  24. Roman F says:

    its a good way, after a repair, before you go to the garage for prof alignment

  25. kidwooh86 kidwooh86 says:

    So park the car on the hill

  26. The Arrow says:

    πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  27. Raja Arshad says:

    Such a nice job

  28. Beto G says:

    Have ya tried using a level?? If the tire is like this (/) and needs to be like this(|) then I would think a level would be great to get the wheel straight?

  29. Dikster trikster says:

    yeah. major accurate.

  30. Billy Jones says:

    Didn't you adjust the wrong side?

  31. cleanview70 says:

    what if your pickup or rwd car is dogleggin' then you got your work cut out for you

  32. Classical Concerto says:

    For better accuracy, I would use something like a fishing line.

  33. Hill Billy says:

    When you measure the string 1 inch from center cap on the rear and then 1 inch on the front your string will be on an angle giving false readings. Most cars have a different width from one axel to the other.

  34. chef luigi super star says:

    The mini needs 1/16th in on the front….like any other car….

  35. CTX50 says:

    Great video. Good thing you wore those gloves

  36. Pt Jean-Louis says:

    Can you guys do a full video of how to do the 2nd way of aligning the tires seems much easier! Please

  37. pellergin says:

    This fails to mention the track width, i.e. front and rear of car having different width dimensions.

  38. Chibdibs says:

    Is it just me or is there no sound on this particular video?

  39. Ever Forward says:

    I think squaring the string is better method over the tape measure from tire to tire on same axle. The tire to tire method tells you its the same distance (ideally) from rear to rear of front tires & front to front of front tires. So all that says is they are parallel to each other, not the actual toe for each tire. So using that method the driver side can be toe out 2 degrees and the passenger toe in 2 degrees and that method says pass when you really are failed & in a left turn by default. I would only do that as a check to confirm the fist string box method. Am I missing something?

  40. skyjames k says:

    Shop said they did front end alignment. Took it back twice. Said couldnt be straightened. I watched the second time. Saw they were only doing a wheel balance. Didn't touch tie rods. I paid them to do it cause I didnt want to do it. Seems better option doing your own work. You cant pay people to do a simple job

  41. Jeff Flowers says:

    I run a string right up against the front and rear edge of the rear tire at center cap height to get my straight edge. My tires do stick out wider than the car body so it's a better method than measuring an inch, or whatever clearance is needed on both center caps. Just less margin for error running against the tire if you can. Then run the string against the front tire and with the string just barely touching the rear edge of the tire, i can get the 1/16 measurement, the thickness of the twine i use, of the gap at the front edge of the tire. I use a straight edge ruler against the rim edge. not a carpenters ruler against a spoke. I can get under my car to unlock the bolt and make adjustments without turning my wheel to get at it. I also keep checking the centering of the steering wheel as I make adjustments. Using the tape measure across the backside and frontside of the tire is good for a final check but not for doing the alignment. Both tires could be toed to the right and measure 1/8 but you would not be in a alignment.

  42. Dennis Berg says:

    why not jack up the vehicle and measure with the tires in the air?

  43. C Burkens says:

    If you get the rods aligned correctly what will the shop do differently with the alignment?

  44. fredkuhn165 says:

    I’ve done this a couple times with good results. Sometimes I’ll have to test and tweak it a bit, but it allows me to do repairs like tie rods and struts myself, then align it good enough to get it to a tire shop. Saves thousands

  45. fredkuhn165 says:

    This method assumes the rear alignment is good. What if you do 4 wheel struts? Get it close, then take it in for a pro job

  46. Nate Bell says:

    that rope is not straight

  47. flying munk89 says:

    I have watched several videos. This one is the best that iv seen as far as how good it works. Mine drive nice and straight. My wheel is a little slanted to the driver side but I dont have a steering wheel lock. Thanks

  48. King Koopa says:

    This actually works never aligned a car ever in my life and I tried your method and the steering wheel is factory straight now!!!!! Thx

  49. Brandon Peterman says:

    I literally just did this on a 03 focus this morning before running across this video lol

  50. ThePariss333 says:

    Thank you guys. I'm the # 1,544 thumb up. 5 stars for your guys and So much Thanks for all these Videos . Your guys Sells Parts and No need to do Videos but your guys do and that Really help us a Lot. Keep going guys and Thanks Again.

  51. Jackson Rodrick says:

    Using pliers when a perfectly good 15mm wrench would do the same and not round anything off

  52. Jorge Zuni says:

    That’s only aligning the tow-in tow-out part . Missing camber tilt vertically alignment

  53. Sony Toprano says:

    After buying four step stools and string I just realized it was cheaper to pay for an alignment .

  54. Travis Stone says:

    that will get the toe only close. on new vehicles you gotta hook up a proper machine. Use this trick to not peel tires off on your way to the alignment shop.

  55. behexen250 says:

    Thank you for being responsible and telling people that this is just a temporary procedure and not an actual wheel alignment. I'd just like to comment on a couple of things I saw in the video. The first is looking at the steering wheel to judge if you made an improvement. While its true that you can correct an off center wheel with an alignment, the position of the steering wheel itself has nothing to do with it. Its a purely cosmetic issue. I can literally adjust a car so the steering wheel is upside down, and have the car still be in perfect alignment. Also, for the type of adjustment you're doing here, there's no need to put the string over the back wheels. Its beyond the scope of what you can do using this method. The rear wheels can also be out of alignment and they're almost always a different width across than the front wheels. Without substantially modifying the procedure, factoring the rear wheels into the equation will hurt more than help. Just do everything up front. Get the front wheels as close to parallel as you can, and don't worry about having a straight steering wheel.

    Its also worth noting that there are several other alignment angles that need to be measured, and possibly adjusted as well. Without putting the car on a machine, there's no way to tell if they need to be adjusted. And if you do adjust them, they effect the others. For example, if you have toe adjusted perfectly and adjust camber, adjusting camber will move toe a significant amount, so you would need to re-adjust toe. Everything is connected.

  56. Gary Riefle says:

    Place a piece of tape over the top of steering wheel and steering column cover… centered. Then take a razor blade and cut the tape in the gap of those two parts. This way you get the steering wheel back in the same position each time after turning it, by aligning the tape up. Takes the guess work out of where to put the steering wheel back.

  57. Francisco Moreno says:

    If the rear is off, the front will be off too, not to mention there's 3 adjustments on the front, toe, camber, and caster

  58. Joe De Jesus says:

    That's the way to do it, I like this method better,πŸ‘ to the measuring of the tires. But I prefer using 4 Jack Stands with fluorescent fishing line. I also prefer using the "Dream Stick" Alignment tool (which you can buy on line) it makes it much easier to actually see your measurements without having to use the tape measure.

  59. Diego Rodriguez Nava says:

    At minute 10:29 he explains a different method

  60. Baus From Space says:

    I hope I get to do this enough one day to answer my own question, but for mental energy savings.. My steering wheel tilts more to the left in order for the car to stay straight, so does that mean the right wheel is too far out? or are both wheel aligned toward the right?.. I had mine done at the shop and got these results hence why I am trying to learn to do it myself. If you want it done right as they say..

  61. E M P says:

    Ive seen videos on YouTube using this method for wheel alignment but wondered if there was some validity to it. If 1A Auto Parts says it will work. Im convinced and will try it. Thanks for the video. I like the quality parts you sell and your my goto parts store

  62. William winters says:

    Front wheel drive ? Usually toe out

  63. THE MECHANIC says:

    Spent $40 less headache πŸ€• at the alignment shop. No matter how much you adjusted at home never perfect

  64. Infinite Rumination says:

    I also have a ford focus (there in the video) and the wheels are worn the same.

  65. Carey says:

    Tried this years ago with my wifes van. Needless to say I was buying her new front tires and a real alignment 3 months later. That was dumb.😏

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