The camber angle refers to the inward or outward tilt of the wheels from vertical when viewed from the front or rear. Camber is a critical alignment specification that affects steering, braking, and load-bearing dynamics. Camber arms are suspension parts that connect the wheel hubs to the chassis and allow adjustment of the camber angle.
Proper camber settings are crucial for balancing vehicle performance. In this article, we will explore how camber works, the function of camber arms, and their impact on handling, tire wear, and component durability. Understanding camber and camber arms will empower you to dial in your vehicle’s alignment for optimal driveability.
How Camber Works?
As a wheel rolls when the vehicle is in motion, the top tilts inward due to centrifugal force. This is known as negative camber and is used to counteract the loads from cornering that would otherwise push the wheel outward.
Most vehicles are designed with a slight negative camber angle from the factory. As the suspension compresses and extends during driving, the camber angle changes. Lowering a vehicle’s ride height decreases camber and often requires realignment.
Camber arms connect the wheel hubs or knuckles to the chassis. They provide an adjustable link that controls the camber angle as the suspension travels up and down. Camber arms come in different configurations to allow camber adjustments.
What Do Camber Arms Do?
Camber arms serve several key functions:
Adjust Camber Angle
The primary job of camber arms is to provide a means of adjusting camber. Turning the adjustable end links changes the effective length of the camber arm which alters the camber angle. Lengthening the camber arm increases negative camber; shortening it reduces negative camber.
Allow Wheel Movement
Camber arms pivot to allow the necessary up/down wheel travel for the suspension. Their adjustable design maintains the tuned camber angle as the wheel moves through its range of motion.
Control Alignment Geometry
Camber arms are carefully engineered with ball joints at each end to guide the motion of the wheel hub during suspension actuation. This manages dynamic camber and toe changes.
Transfer Cornering Loads
Camber arms handle a portion of the lateral cornering loads from the tire contact patch to the body. They bear these side-to-side forces while allowing the wheel to smoothly follow the road surface.
Resist Braking Torque
During hard braking, camber arms help resist inertia which wants to pivot the wheel forward. This maintains proper wheel orientation and stability.
How Camber Arms Affect Handling?
The camber settings enabled by camber arms have a profound impact on vehicle dynamics. Here’s an overview of how camber influences handling:
Grip and Traction
More negative camber angles improve grip and traction by increasing the tire contact patch when cornering. The tilted wheel gains more tread flat on the road.
Dialing in more negative camber quickens turn-in response. Less camber slows steering responsiveness. Street driven cars typically run less camber for ease of driving.
Body Roll Reduction
Increasing negative camber counteracts suspension compression and body roll when cornering. This enhances high speed stability.
Well engineered camber arms optimize camber gain as the suspension compresses. The outside wheel gains negative camber for extra cornering traction when needed most.
Effects Of Camber On Tire Wear
Camber settings significantly impact tire wear. Correct camber alignment minimizes uneven wear.
Inner Shoulder Wear
Too much negative camber accelerates wear on the inside shoulder. The extreme lean causes that edge to scuff and wears faster.
Outer Shoulder Wear
Insufficient negative camber wears the outer tire shoulder prematurely. The lack of tilt cannot maintain full contact through turns.
Sawtooth Wear Pattern
Uneven camber side-to-side produces a sawtooth wear pattern around the circumference. Adjusting camber arms to center the angle fixes this issue.
Feathered Inner/Outer Edge
Mismatched camber angles from side to side feather either the inner or outer tire edges. Equalizing the alignment stops feathering wear.
Camber’s Effect On Suspension, Steering, And Driveline
Proper camber alignment not only improves handling, it also reduces strain and wear on other components.
Ball Joints and Tie Rods
Incorrect camber forces ball joints and tie rods to operate at awkward angles accelerating wear. Aligned cambers take pressure off steering links.
Wheel Bearings and Hubs
Excess camber loading can prematurely wear wheel bearings and hub assemblies. Optimized camber alignment extends their service life.
Shock Absorbers and Springs
Poor camber geometry leads to uneven suspension loads and compromised ride quality. Well-tuned camber takes stress off shocks and springs.
Constant Velocity Joints
Severe camber misalignment strains CV joints and boots leading to accelerated wear and failures. Maintaining proper camber angles reduces driveline damage.
Specialty Camber Arm Designs
Car manufacturers use various camber arm configurations to meet specific vehicle packaging and performance requirements.
Straight Camber Arms
The simplest design with adjustable links on each end provides basic camber adjustment. These are commonly found on standard independent suspension setups.
Sliding Camber Plates
Camber plates fit under coilover springs to provide a slotted mounting point for adjusting static camber without affecting ride height. These allow camber tuning separate from the shock absorbers.
Slotted Camber Arms
Some bolt-in camber arms feature slots on one end rather than articulating joints. This design forces camber change when the arm is moved along the slot.
Bent and Offset Arms
Many OEM camber arms have complex shapes – bends, offsets, or mounting points – to work within confined chassis spaces while enabling suspension geometry.
Adjusting Camber Alignment
Correct camber alignment is crucial for safe handling and preventing premature tire wear. Here is an overview of camber adjustment methods:
Some factory camber arms have eccentric bolts or shims allowing minor adjustments within the OEM specifications. Always start with stock adjusters to align camber.
For major camber changes, install adjustable camber arms. This lets you customize the angles for lowered vehicles, increased performance, or optimal tire wear.
Alignment technicians have the tools and experience to perfectly dial-in camber settings. Let professionals handle major camber adjustments or alignments of lowered vehicles.
Arm Slot Adjustments
Camber arms with slotted mounting holes allow camber changes by repositioning the bolts along the slot. This is a simple method for slight camber tweaks.
Are Camber Arms Necessary?
Whether camber arms are necessary depends on the vehicle. Many standard passenger cars come with non-adjustable camber built into the factory suspension, so adding camber arms is optional.
For lowered vehicles, increased performance setups, or optimal wheel alignment, installing adjustable aftermarket camber arms allows modifying the angles for improved handling and reduced tire wear.
Camber arms become more important for steering responsiveness and traction with stiffer suspensions. While not mandatory, camber arms give enthusiasts and performance drivers greater control over alignment for optimized dynamics.
Do Camber Arms Replace Control Arms?
Camber arms and control arms serve different purposes. Control arms primary control wheel position and suspension travel. Camber arms specifically adjust wheel angle. Control arms would still be needed to locate the wheel even with camber arms installed. Camber arms simply provide an additional adjustment point to tune alignment settings.
For lowered vehicles, camber arms can work in conjunction with revised control arms to recalibrate alignment angles. Camber arm adjustments fine-tune wheel camber after new control arms establish proper suspension geometry. Both play important roles in alignment.
Does Camber Make Your Car Faster?
Increased negative camber can definitely improve high-speed stability and cornering traction to make a car faster on track or in autocross. On public roads, going beyond factory camber specs may compromise ease of driving, tire life, and safety for minimal gains.
Mild camber adjustments to offset lowering or enhance responsiveness can be beneficial, but more aggressive camber builds are best suited to competitive driving venues. Most sports cars and race cars dial in extra negative camber for performance – up to around 5 degrees depending on class rules.
This added tilt plants more tire tread evenly on the pavement for tenacious grip when cornering at the limit. The tradeoff is specialized tire requirements and limited everyday practicality.
What Does Camber Do For Performance?
More negative camber, to a point, benefits performance driving by reducing body roll, quickening turn-in response, and increasing available traction when cornering due to the tilted wheel gaining more flat contact patch.
The extra negative camber counteracts lateral suspension compression which would normally reduce the lean angle dynamically. This allows maintaining an aggressive tire contact angle during hard cornering for tenacious grip. Performance oriented suspension packages are designed to optimize camber curve characteristics when dampers are compressed.
So dialing-in more static negative camber reserves potential lean angle as the car rolls in corners.
Understanding camber and camber arm function provides insight into dialing-in proper wheel alignment. Optimized camber boosts vehicle dynamics and reduces wear on tires and drivetrain components. Whether fine-tuning factory arms or upgrading to aftermarket adjustable links, correct camber alignment pays dividends in handling, safety, and longevity.
- How To Install Hubcaps On A Car?
- How To Put Wheel Covers On?
- How Long Does Butter Wet Wax Last?
- What Would Cause Oil To Spray All Over The Engine?