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Camber on a race car is the tilt of a wheel from top to bottom.  If the wheel leans in towards the center of the car, the camber is referred to as positive camber.  If the wheel leans out away from the center of the car, the camber is referred to as negative camber.

 

Camber is very important and sometimes hard to figure out.  There are several items you need to keep in mind while setting your camber.

 

The camber you set in the shop may not be your final setting.  The camber gain is very important to take into consideration, because it plays an affect on your front geometry.  You don't want to change a length of an upper or lower control arm just to change your camber gain, because it will change your dynamic roll center.  For now, lets just talk about camber gain.

 

The camber gain can be measured relatively easy.  Set the static camber first by having the chassis at ride height and tilting the top of the spindle the direction you need depending on the type of racing you are doing.  Use an angle finder, digital if you have one, and check the angle of the upper control arm.  Once you know the angle of the upper control arm you can jack the car up and put it on jack stands.  Then place the jack under the lower ball joint and jack the suspension up until the upper reaches the angle that you set when the car was at ride height.  Place your camber gauge on and make sure that the camber is  the same as when you checked it on the floor.  then measure the height of the lower ball joint.  Now jack up the lower ball joint 1 inch and check the camber.  This will be your camber gain for your first inch of travel.  Then jack up the ball joint 1 more inch and check the camber.  This will be your camber gain in 2 inches of travel.

 

The reason the camber gain is important, is because the static camber will change if the camber gain changes.  Understanding the relationship between camber gain and static camber is important.  The wheel goes thru the travel and the camber changes as that happens.  Keeping the whole tire patch on the surface of the racetrack for the whole camber gain is what will make the car turn the best.  The best way to see if the tire patch stays on the racetrack is with camber sensors and a computer data acquisition system.  Most of us cannot afford such systems; so the second best way is by tire temps and tire wear.

 

The tire temp will tell you about over and under inflation, but if you watch the relationship between the front and rear temperatures, you can find some of the answers on your camber gain.  Watch the rear tire temps.  Get the temps pretty even or have a consistent gain across the tire.  Then you know that the pressure is set properly.  Then set the front pressure to the same pressure.  After some laps make sure the pressure is the same as the rear, then read the front temperatures.  If the middle is cold compared to the outsides, you have too much camber gain.  If the middle is hot compared to the outsides, you do not have enough camber gain.  Watch your wear on your tires and using the same techniques, you can see if your camber gain is right or not.

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