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Mini Tech - How to set your tracking on your own !

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As I had to do this meself today thought I take some pics and post up this mini-tech "Trick" that I've used for years....

Having just replaced my steering box and UJs I didn't stop there are also replaced the track rods etc,

the net result was my steering ended up seemingly "Toe out"

(this is where each wheel is slightly pointing 'outwards', as oppossed to "Toe In" which is where both wheels seem to be both pointing 'in')

For a 90 / Land Rover I have always gone for "Zero" ie "Neither" 'In' or 'Out'

You could go to a tyre shop and get your tracking done, ..........but here's how I do it for free.

Setting your Tracking :

1st get yourself a nice strong bit of string, or, as I have here some electrical wire :lol:

Then disconnect the rear track control arm on the drivers side

Loosen and remove steering wheel, then put it back on - loosely

Tie (as I have here to the 90) wire / string to the back end :moglite:


Then walk down the passenger side and lay the wire / string across the centre of the rear tyre,

and then pull tight and 'bring it in'.... so as to try to 'touch' the centre of the front part of the front tyre,.

[ post-22-1210502689_thumb.jpg

The pic above shows "Toe out" (the rear of the front tyre is "In" too much)

Adjusted the wire now touches both front and rear of the front tyre at the same time, no "Gaps" :


If you can touch the front part and have the back part of the front tyre not touching..... then adjust the steering wheel,

similarly if you touch the rear part of the tyre 1st and the front part of the front tyre isn't in line equally adjust the steering wheel.

(this will ONLY move the tyre your working on as the main track arm is disconnected) :)

With a little faffing about you should now have the rear and front wheel and the wire / string such that it touches both the front and rear centres of the front wheel at the same time, at this point you can remove the steering wheel and then place back on at the 'straight ahead' position - just be very gentle with everything so as not to move the passenger wheel :)

Once done recheck passenger side for straightness with the wire / string

If all ok, and nothings moved then go to the drivers side and repeat,

post-22-1210502878_thumb.jpg post-22-1210502898_thumb.jpg

Here you can see mine was "Toe out" again, small tweak and then fine...

Line up the front wheel so again the string / wire is equally 'touching' the front wheel front and back centres,

once you have this climb underneath and offer up the control arm,

either then wind out or wind in the track rod so it just "pops" in the steering track rod hole,

once done check again on the driver side for straightness, and the passenger side which shouldn't have moved

and if all ok tighten up both the trackrod(s) pop in split pins and tighten up steering wheel nut

Job done :)



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Good one.

That's the way we were shown to do it at college and then it was checked with the proper equipment to see that we did it right.

It does rely on the front and rear axle track to be the same though so no good for twin wheel transits etc. Also we had to be aware of independent rear suspension as some might toe out a touch to allow for straightening up under drive.

Doing this is also a good opportunity to measure your wheel base each side to make sur there is no chassis twist or other misalignment first.

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Hi Nige,

Nice description. String method is good, though you can get some awkwardness from one vehicle to the other depending on suspension lift and wear in bushes etc which can cause the front axle to align slightly differently with the back axle.

I use the following very simple but accurate method:

All you need is an old extending car ariel strapped to a length of wood, or a couple of thin lengths of wood/metal rod/tube or similar which can be overlapped or slid inside each other.

With the wheels straight ahead, extend the aerial(or overlap your 2 lengths of wood or whatever- can hold together with elastic bands) to fit exactly between the two front wheels at the rim(in front of the axle), parallel with the ground and at the axle centre line. Compare the length you get with the same point behind the axle. Ideally you should be aiming for the length to be the same or up to about 1mm wider in front of the axle than behind.

If the tracking needs adjusting, loosen the clamps on both ends of the track rod (behind the axle) and rotate the track rod whilst leaving the balljoints bolted to the steering arms. Because one end of the track rod has a left hand thread, the track rod will get longer or shorter depending on which way you rotate the track rod tube. When you have got the tracking correct, tighten up the clamps.

On standard height vehicles, the steering and panhard rod may get in the way at the front, but you can just jack the chassis up a bit so you can fit your extending rod in. The beauty of this method is that it doesn't matter whether you are parked on a slope,, jacked up, or whatever, because you are making the measurements on the front axle only.



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Nige, I don't see any reference to setting the steering box to the middle of travel, and I do see reference to re-setting the steering wheel.

I usually centre the steering by counting turns for lock to lock then moving half the number of turns from one lock. If the steering wheel is not correct then check the steering joints and if correct then refit the steering wheel for straightahead.

Then put the string around all four wheels and tie off.

Then adjust N/S wheel to correct toe-in/out by altering the drag link.

Now adjust O/S wheel by altering the track bar.


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Nige, I don't see any reference to setting the steering box to the middle of travel, and I do see reference to re-setting the steering wheel.

Er..quite right !

I had previously done this, and assemblied the new unit bars etc, this was more the "Fine tuning" to get the toe in / out correct

Nige :)

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 weeks later...

For reference, the ofishul line is that steering on a Defender should be 0 to 2mm toe-out according to the workshop manual. If I'm looking at one I usually aim for the string to be not quite touching the rear sidewall of the front tyre by just a 'whisker'. It's a surprisingly good method.

The other thing to bear in mind as a word of caution is knobbly MT tyres or tyres with raised lettering on them which will bugger up the idea - make sure you use a smooth part of the sidewall and avoid any side lugs :)

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I used to have 2 pieces of 16" length angle iron with a 16 mm hole drilled in the middle. When you remove the front wheels, you can bolt these to the hubs with one wheel nut. Now measure length in front and behind the axle- and that is your tracking. I always set the tracking parralel, and that worked well. I since used the angle irons for something else :unsure: . So last time I had to set it -The night before setting off to russia at about half 1 midnight- I just had the front wheels of and just g-clamped 2 pieces of box section to the brake disks. Since I run parallel, all you need to do is make sure that the two box sections are parallel. The longer they are, the more acurate it is. Proper redneck, but very effective.


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 years later...

I have a length of steel tube with a nut welded to one end, then a length of M10 studding screwed into the nut to give me a variable length bar. The ends are small enough not to be affected by raised lettering and the screw thread gives very fine adjustment. Using M10 Course thread it gives 1.5mm per revolution of the thread.

A small magnetic spirit level stuck to the tube helps too!


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