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Old 03-30-2017, 12:41 PM   #1
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Alignment

A local dealer -- Porsche of Rockville (Maryland) -- is having a special on an alignment. $130, down from $180. Go to their website for the coupon.

But it got me thinking. Is there any reason to go to a Dealership for this -- is there anything unique to a Boxster alignmnet that merits going to a dealership? What should I look for in an alignment shop's work?

Thanks, Carlos

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Old 03-30-2017, 12:46 PM   #2
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I would respectfully like to suggest that you use somebody that has prior Porsche experience. That way your car is not part of somebodies learning curve.
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:02 PM   #3
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The OP is talking about taking his car to a Porsche dealer, so one can assume that they have experience with Porsches.

That said, I'd take it to an alignment shop that specializes in sports cars and specialty cars. Usually in any good-sized city there are places like that. The reason I recommend a place like that is because they'll do a better job than a dealer or most tire stores, because they'll take the time to make sure everything is set to the proper specs, not just adjusting it to get into the "green" area.

There is nothing special about getting an alignment on a 986, they are pretty straightforward. You just want the alignment tech to get all the values right, and consistent side-to-side.

$130 does seem like a pretty decent price. When I got my alignment done after rebuilding the suspension, it cost me $125 (in Seattle) at a place called Truline. The tech set it exactly to my specs. The car he had done just before mine was a 911 Turbo, BTW.
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:08 PM   #4
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Our suspensions are relatively easy to setup compared to something like a Miata, where changes to one thing often cause something else to change (but naturally I can't think of any examples but when I had one of the family Miatas aligned, they had a lot of trouble getting the front sent the way I wanted, I think because caster and camber kept changing when the other one was adjusted)

We have no caster adjustment, just toe and camber.

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Originally Posted by rexcramer View Post
I would respectfully like to suggest that you use somebody that has prior Porsche experience. That way your car is not part of somebodies learning curve.
I agree, and I think the key is knowing what settings you want, and then making sure the shop aligns to those specifications - instead of just having it be "within" specs - which could still allow each side to be way out from the other side and giving a poor driving experience.

My recommendations:
  • Front - max out the negative camber, making sure both sides are the same. Should come out to maybe -.7-.8 and with zero toe. Sometimes it is tough to get right at zero, if there has to be any, let it be a slight amount in, which helps provide stability in a daily driver.
  • Back - -1.6 with .08 degree of toe in per side.

This gives a good driving experience, sporty and responsive, and because you are not running tons of toe in, in the back, it won't drag the inner tread and wear it out, even with all the negative camber back there.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:16 PM   #5
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I think it's more about competence than Porsche experience. And from what I've seen, dealership does not automatically equal competent.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steved0x View Post
My recommendations:
  • Front - max out the negative camber, making sure both sides are the same. Should come out to maybe -.7-.8 and with zero toe. Sometimes it is tough to get right at zero, if there has to be any, let it be a slight amount in, which helps provide stability in a daily driver.
  • Back - -1.6 with .08 degree of toe in per side.

This gives a good driving experience, sporty and responsive, and because you are not running tons of toe in, in the back, it won't drag the inner tread and wear it out, even with all the negative camber back there.
I'm going to respectfully disagree with Steve on his recommendations for alignment. If the car will only be driven on the street at normal speeds, I wouldn't max out the negative camber and have zero toe, at least on the front. I maxed out the camber on my 2002, because I will be doing track days with it. It now "tramlines" over uneven pavement, and is less pleasant to drive most of the time. But if the car is going to see track duty, then yes, max out the camber and go for zero toe.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:58 PM   #7
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When I had a bone stock suspension, I ran max camber from and rear, no front toe and a smidge rear toe. Pretty much what Steve noted

I did not find any issues with normal street driving
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Old 03-30-2017, 06:45 PM   #8
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Thanks. I'll take this under advisement.

Steve - would your recommendation change if this car was never tracked?

How would you evaluate an alignment shop. By the equipment they use, for example?

Last edited by Cbonilla; 03-30-2017 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 05:50 AM   #9
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I have found that the tires affect the car's reaction to following ruts and grooves even with the same alignment by just alternating between two sets of tires so an alignment with some camber can cause some of that but it may have been the tires that were on the car that had that issue as well. I run 2.7 degrees of camber on my Audi and it wears the insides of the tires but it is the only way to get that car to not understeer so I just rotate often.
As far as alignment shops: they are hit or miss and it is mainly on the tech himself at that shop. Most of the techs would just set the toe on most cars if everything else is even close to in spec. Alignments in the Detroit area where I live run from $49 on special to $89 on the high end. I perform my own alignments at a friend's shop. He bought a new $40k machine last year that uses the lasers that are pretty dog gone accurate. When aligning one of my lowered cars I have to input that info into the machine as it acts kind of funky and sometimes doesn't like it if I don't. Always set the rear specs first and then roll the car back and forth and set the front (most everyday shops will never do this for you or sit there and max out your camber and then go back and make sure it is the same on both sides, they like stock specs which have a wide range and if the arrows are in the green they ship it like that)
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cbonilla View Post
Thanks. I'll take this under advisement.

Steve - would your recommendation change if this car was never tracked?

How would you evaluate an alignment shop. By the equipment they use, for example?
When I was all stock and got the alignment I described I was doing a combo of street driving and track driving. I never noticed any issues on the street, but that might have been just me. If I were to ever get another street boxster I would set it up that way.

I was driving on 200 TW summer tires too. Maybe with a harder all season tire it would be different. Also I'm not sure what tramlining is.

One difference I noticed when I went from regular summer tires (Sumitomo htr z III) to the Hankook R-S3 was that they were noisier and I could also feel the road more. That was a bigger change than when I changed my alignment. Unfortunately I didn't get a "before" sheet so I don't know what the original alignment was for comparison purposes.
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:28 AM   #11
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This is a timely discussion for me. I have just ordered a set of Michelin Pilot sport a/s 3+. I am looking for alignment spec suggestions for spirited daily driving- no track or autocross.

This forum is awesome!
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:42 AM   #12
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If you really want a "good" alignment, find a race shop or an indy that does a string alignment.
Trust me , it makes a difference.
A laser is around 1mm in diameter and my guy has a special ruler with a magnifier and is accurate to .5mm!

Yes, they cost more, the going rate here in San Diego is $350. The difference in accuracy does make a difference as well as really dialing in both sides to be the same

BWDZ is right, a proper alignment requires that the car be rolled a little back and forth a little after an adjustment and re-checked

The alignment shops take maybe 30-45 min and a string alignment is 2-3 hours

Also, they should ballast the drivers seat with the approximate weight of the driver when doing the alignment. 1/2 tank gas too
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Last edited by JayG; 03-31-2017 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 08:43 AM   #13
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How would you evaluate an alignment shop. By the equipment they use, for example?
Poke around on the local forums. Any kind of autocross or racing forum with local ties are great resources. My local PCA forum has lots of information on the various shops and vendors in the local area.

Tramlining is when the car wants to follow the ruts in the road; it feels as if you were to let go of the wheel, the car would move from one side of the rut to the other, back-and-forth.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:30 AM   #14
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I took mine to the local bcaa shop. The nice thing is they have big glass windows so you can stare down the mechanic as he is working lol
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:26 AM   #15
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Strings are better, but a good laser alignment machine in the right hands can do a great job. One of the most important bits is to find a tech who is patient and detail oriented. On each end, big adjustments of either toe or camber will throw off the other.
Here's my list for the order of adjustment:
1. lock the steering so that it is centered. If you can't do this, you'll have to re-center after every adjustment.
2. set the front camber using the top of the strut. It really won't be a lot, so I recommend maxing the lowest side and then matching that.
3. set the front toe. I recommend 1/8" total toe out. This will give you good turn in without being too harsh on the tires.
4. revisit the front camber. You may need to adjust this at the control arm now.
5. revisit front toe
Once the front is dialed in, go to the rear.
6. Set the rear camber using the control arms. Again, it won't be a whole lot, best to get the sides even.
7. Set the rear toe. Here, I'd go for 1/16th-1/8th toe in. This will provide some high speed stability without being too aggressive on the tires.
8. Revisit the rear camber and get it equal again.
9. revisit the rear toe.
10. Now go have a look at the front numbers to see if they've changed.

And remember, patience, patience, patience.
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Old 03-31-2017, 12:29 PM   #16
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my track oriented setup on stock suspension:

FR
Left camber, -1.2
Left Caster 7.7 degrees
Left Toe 1/32 In

Right Camber, -1.3
Right Caster, 7.8 degrees
Right Toe 1/32 in

Rear
Left Camber -2
Left Toe 3/32 In

Right Camber -2.1
Left Toe 1/16 In

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