As a normal SCC reader, you've no doubt bounced around the thought of buying stiffer springs or coilovers (if you don't have some already). But changes in ride height and set-up will affect stock alignment settings, altering toe and camber settings and ruining your once-stellar handling. Much like with ECU tuning, you've come to realize that you may need two different alignment settings, one for the street and a much more aggressive one for the track.
Nobody likes visiting the local tire shop and paying $70 to $100 each time a suspension change is made, only to receive an unbalanced guess job the day before a track event. The best way to ensure the work is done correctly is to take the monkey out of the equation-SPC Performance's adjustable FasTrax camber/caster gauge seeks to do just that.
The FasTrax gauge is a simple three-pegged aluminum 'T' with a bubble level built in. The design doesn't require any magnets, strings, wheel adaptors, or attachment devices. SPC calls the FasTrax 'hands free' and, while you still need to use your mitts when measuring, it really is quite easy to use.
The FasTrax is zeroed out by SPC and comes ready to use on any even surface. If you're like us, then your garage floor is obviously not level, but the FasTrax can be zeroed at any time. Once ready to go, just extend the top portion of the FasTrax to fit it onto your wheel. The gauge will function with any wheel from 13 to 18 inches in diameter.
Three protruding pegs fit either just on the inside of the wheel lip, or just on the outside. The bubble level has been designed by SPC to show proper increments of camber, and displays in degrees, with markings for every quarter of a degree. If you share our tendency to be anal, you'd like to see the gauge broken down at least into 0.10-degree increments, but the spacing on the level is large enough to figure out relative increments.
To measure caster, turn the front wheel out at a 15-degree angle, zero the FasTrax gauge, then turn the front wheel in at a 15-degree angle, in order to get the caster reading. The Fastrax has a specially cut 15-degree tip to it, so turning the wheels the correct amount is just a simple matter of lining up the tip parallel to the side of the car.
Although not included with the FasTrax, SPC does sell a toe attachment kit to measure and set toe-in/out. Using it is as simple as attaching it to the FasTrax and measuring the distance to a scribe line or plate resting against the tire on the other side of the car. Measure once in front of the tire and once behind the tire, the difference will be the amount of toe.
The kit is perfect for making quick toe adjustments at the track. But it will only really function if the toe was initially set with a four-wheel alignment, because the SPC toe kit doesn't factor in the toe setting relative to the true chassis centerline.
All these measurements can be done without hand tools and that's exactly what makes the FasTrax so easy to use. Alignment changes can be done in the comfort of your own home to your exact settings, or trackside in a pit area. Run mild alignment settings for your daily drive, then slam in maximum camber settings as dictated by the heat across your race tires.
There are now many different portable options for measuring camber and caster on the market, some even cheaper than the FasTrax, but none pack the same combination of solid construction, simplicity, ease of use and price. Alignment settings should not be overlooked on any performance car, and with a portable measuring device such as the FasTrax, you can custom tailor your suspension set-up for the street, the track, and back again.
|Comparison of stock 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX measurements |
|Front Left/Right Camber (deg) ||SPC FasTrax ||Laser Alignment Rack |
|-1.00/-1.25 ||-0.9/-1.2 |
|Rear Left/Right Camber (deg) ||-1.50/-1.25 ||-1.5/-1.3 |
|Left/Right Caster (deg) ||3.50/4.00 ||3.60/3.80 |
Features: Measures camber -4 to +4 degrees, caster -4 to +12 degrees, fits onto any 13- to 18-inch wheel, toe-in/out alignment gauge available separatelyPros: Easy to use, perfect trackside set-up tool, pays for itself in alignmentsCons: Camber gauge could use more resolutionMSRP: $164.91 (FasTrax), $58.25 (Toe kit)Contact info: www.spcperformance.com(800) 525-6505