The camber of your car measures the centerline of your tire in relation to the road surface. It is expressed in degrees, and you may wonder what the fuss is. After all, you are not driving a sports car or luxury vehicle. Why should you worry? There are some very significant reasons.
When an auto mechanic talks about negative camber, he or she is referring to the top of the tire which will tuck inwards. Some negative camber will help improve your handling of the road. This is because the camber permits the tire to respond better when turning around the corner. If there is no negative camber the overall grip to the road is jeopardized. Positive camber is the exact opposite; the top of the tire is going to go outwards. Positive camber can be a problem since it has a habit of reducing road handling.
Okay, you might think that negative camber is always a good thing. That is not necessarily true. It can increase the wear on the inner tire, because the tire will transfer more load to the inner portion under normal driving conditions. You have to set a proper balance for the sake of your tires. Adjusting the camber is part of tire alignment work. Besides road handling problems, camber that is not properly aligned is going to wear out bearings and ball joints that are needed for proper road handling.
This becomes a serious balancing act between negative and positive camber. European models are often very sporty, and are superior on cornering. Your car would need enough negative camber to allow for the execution of hairpin corner turns. However, it cannot be negative to such a degree that you have difficulty traveling down a country highway. Negative camber is going to lean the tires toward the vehicle’s center. That can cause a little bit of a problem when the vehicle is moving straight ahead. Too much extended camber can affect those hard stops that may be necessary. You do have the option for zero camber and this is going to reduce performance when you do cornering with the car, but the tires are going to wear out more evenly over time.
Your personal driving style is going to play a part in this, too. If cornering performance is not necessary, for example if you live in the country, then you are not going to need a heavy slant towards the negative. A lot of inner city driving may call for negative camber. But the driving style of the car owner still has to be considered. If the driver is not an adventuresome type, cornering at lower speeds will actually cause problems even though there is negative camber. A cautious person doesn’t really need the degree of negative camber the thrill seeker wants.
Adjusting the camper can be a do-it-yourself job but you better do it right. This is not to say mistakes will cause major accidents, but it is going to have a negative impact on the tires. Camber is going to wear down the tires. Improperly done, that wearing down is going to be more rapid. You only need to look at the price of tires to know that what makes the active longer is better. Trained auto mechanics have the equipment necessary to get a precision job of alignment done properly. Moreover, they can do the rest the alignment work as well. The camber setting is only part of the job. There is more to doing it because the caster and the total also need to be considered. If those are not properly set, the misalignment will effectively cancel out what you did for the camber.
When the camber has been aligned to your expectations, you should take the car out for a test drive. If you’re concerned about negative camber, you may want to do a little driving in the city. You can check and see if there’s any positive difference in your car’s ability to maneuver. You can also take the vehicle out on the highway or country road. You can test the stops on a country road to see if everything is alright.
It is not very likely you want to be able to drive like a NASCAR racer, but some negative camber is maybe what you want to have. Keep in mind your driving style. If you’re more conservative, you do not need a lot of negative camber. Performance and wear on the tire are the criteria in deciding the degree of camber for your set of wheels.