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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2003 E-350 Super duty with 7.3 diesel.
Does anyone have/know what the Official Ford Specifications are for Camber, Caster & Toe? Plus if you have any (official) information it might include more information than just those three.
(Don't know if it's required to provide "codes" (I guess that refers to the v.i.n. # or maybe there's some other "code" to indicate if it has a tow package suspension or it's an Ambulance package...That might have different specifications for the big three mentioned). Anyway, I think it's just a Factory Standard Vehicle. (It had a lights hook up on it to pull a trailer but I think that was either installed after factory or maybe it's standard, BUT there is nothing that indicates to me it has any "heavy duty suspension" or other accessories that might be for a tow package.
Can you also tell me if my understanding as explained sounds correct...
Some say (incorrectly) that CAMBER & CASTER cannot be "adjusted" on our Fords. But it's that to "change" those things you have to "change" a part (an upper ball joint sleeve) to one of the (15) different sizes officially made by Ford. OR...You can go with some aftermarket part (usually I see INGALL #59400 as the referenced part), That gives you what would be considered "adjust ability" vs "changing out parts" as an option?
It also seems you have to research and qualify your alignment shop because many of them are all to willing to either do nothing at all OR just adjust Toe (If it really even needed it) and charge you some outrageous price & claim to have "checked & adjusted" everything to within "Factory Specs".
It seems like you need to go into these places and let them know right up front just how much you are aware of about what can & cannot be done AND specifically what you (think) your problem is and what end of the acceptable "RANGE" you are looking to have it SET to.
Unfortunately, Doing this also makes you seem to come off as an arrogant smart a#$ trying to act like you know more about how to do alignments than they do!
Seems like a catch 22 deal unless you happen to be one of those fellas with a prince charming type personality.
Unfortunately again, I am not on of those type of guys...LOL
Is it likely a shop would provide someone (That asks nice) with a computer printout of the Factory called out specifications? Can they do that?
I think this would also be a good thread to also talk about some of the other "ALIGNMENT" topics
(Q & A) that come up but are buried in various threads with just bits & pieces of information. I think anyone that's Googled for information about alignments has a pretty good idea what CASTER, CAMBER & Toe are. Most probably also understand the numbers given and the math to get from what you got to where you need to be. If not , this is a good thread to ask those questions.
To those/us not intimately familiar with issues about alignment , The wide SPREAD of acceptable numbers might need a little bit more explanation.
My simple guess here is that the Factory has no idea how the end user is going to load down his rig. So the factory sets them up to some specific standard and it's up to YOU to figure out if you have loaded it down to the point that you are driving on some (out of range) points because of it. At the least you are wearing out your tires prematurely.At the worst , you are driving a very dangerous handling vehicle.
Sorry for the LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG
post. I really just would like Factory Specs for my vehicle. Thanks..... DDT
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Right, Thanks djbonsu.
I did a search on the subject and that link was one that came up & I read.
Also about 8 others with varying degrees of specific information.
That link happens to be for a 2000 year van. There is always the possibility
that they changed the numbers for a 2003 (Though I don't have any information
to suggest that. But it's possible). Also, While the link gives specific numbers, I don't
see any "range" given. Maybe I am to simply do the math and figure since it says...
2000 E-250 and E-350
................LH ..................RH...............Total/Split
Caster 4.0° ± 2.75°.....4.5° ± 2.75°.....-0.5° ± 1.0°
Camber 0.5° ± 0.5°......0.5° ± 0.5°.......0° ± 0.5°
Toe in.........0.06° ± 0.25°


I can assume the "range for say the left wheel CASTER is 1.25 to 6.75?
Is that the proper way to read that information?
Also I assume the last numbers they call the "total/split"
Can I assume those numbers to mean that they are the maximum
"difference" there should be from one wheel to the other.
So if say my Left wheel CASTER is set to say...5 degrees,
My right wheel should/could be set at 5.5 degrees (which would be perfect
and probably hard for an alignment shop to hit) OR as much as 1.5 degrees
(OFF) higher or lower than 5.5 degrees for the right wheel?
Am I understanding that correct or no?
They should (TRY) to get it perfect but if they cannot they should (TRY) to get
it to be a difference of only 0.5 degrees. BUT can be higher or lower than 0.5 degrees (OFF)
by as maximum of 1 degree.?????????
Gets a little bit confusing since you are already setting the Right wheel 0.5
more positive Caster (difference) then the Left wheel (To help correct for (road crown)????

This is the type of detailed information I was hoping would be talked about here on this thread.
Though my most interest (starts) with knowing for sure the specs for a 2003 year vehicle.
Hate to assume 2000 & 2003 are the same. DDT
 

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I just ask for stock settings with zero toe...
Seems to be fine for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks for the information guys. I thought it.........
O.K. How about this question.....
Do you have to remove the tire to set up the alignment equipment to check
the CASTER? It's been a long time since I had a vehicle in for alignment &
cannot remember or didn't have enough of a view (or maybe interest at the time)
to see just how or what the equipment was.
Since Caster is (as I understand it) the angle line drawn through the upper and lower
attaching points (ball joints) of the steering, How does the equipment set up on the vehicle
to get at this (behind the wheel) area? I believe I remember seeing the (bars) that go
up against the outside of the tire and I can see how that could check for Toe & Camber.
Can anyone explain that to me?
I'm just trying to learn as much as possible here, NOT to be bother anyone with what they
might think are just a bunch of stupid question. Thanks DDT
 

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When we bought our 2000 E-350 and drove it for a while, I noticed the front tires wore out only on one edge.
I think the wear was due to the rear suspension not being loaded down, so as to change the way the fronts tracked.
The "no load" front wheel geometry was the problem.
Anyway, tires are expensive, and it seemed silly to have to throw them out when the rest of the tire tread
was good.
Rotation of all 4 tires just wore out the edge all 4, instead of just the fronts.
Found a front end guy, told him the problem, and NOT to align to the Ford book, but align for best tire contact with the rear of the van unloaded.
It was over a decade ago, all I remember is he put in or adjusted a round piece of metal that had a hole bored off center. I think that caused the wheels to be more straight up than normal specs.

Lost the force that you feel through the steering wheel that tends to automatically turn the wheels straight again after turning, but I was OK with that for better tire life.

Now I can't wear out the tires, ever. They always dry-rot before the tread is gone.
But it takes longer for the tires to rot than it did for the edge to wear out, so it is a gain for me.
 

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Just replaced all the tie rods and ends on my front end, ball joints upper and lower seemed good as new as there was no play, so bolted it all together and took to alignment shop and when done it drifts towards left which based on this thread seems to be the setting for an unloaded e350 but I've been fighting this left drift for years and am tired of it. Going back to see if they can readjust per what you guys are saying. Will first rotate tires front to back and check/equalize pressure to insure this was not a factor and that there may have been some "tire wear memory" affecting the neutral steering that I desire. Also replaced all my rotors, calipers, pads and brake lines.
 

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All tires same brand/size/air? If it were me I'd be tempted to go to another front end guy, but since you already went to a place, I'd take it back & tell them it still pulls, & they need to correct. Can they give you a print out of your finished alignment? Also I would not tell them it has been doing it for years, because, they will use that as an excuse, & since you've rebuilt front end, I would think it would be correctable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bork's comment is a great example of not only why I started this thread but hoped for it to get a lot of questions AND hopefully helpful answers. It seems "dealing with" alignment shops can sometimes be quite difficult. Issue one is usually focused around the idea that....
They are smarter than you, Know everything there is to know about alignment and/or alignment issues , and there going to do what they do , and do it the way they do it whether you like it or not. And if their equipment shows it's within "factory specs." Don't come back and complain that you are not satisfied with the way it's handling and expect us to do anything about it , and certainly not give you any consideration on the price of anything else we might put it on the rack for! Before I go off on to much of a negative rant I just want to add one more time how much of a crappy dealership Flood Ford in East Greenwich is. I stopped in to their new tire/front end/brake...shop the other day to ask if they could get me a print out of the factory specifications for my 03 Van. The "CREEP" behind the counter with the personality of something brown you find floating in your septic tank said with an angry growl..."We can't do that..." So I politely asked....
(yes, politely) "Is it that you can't do it or the machine doesn't work like that?" (Knowing full well the alignment equipment they had was capable of a print out). His pissy & angry grumble reply..."The machine don't work like that, we can't print anything out..."
O.K. Enough of that..... Now for anyone interested.....From a more customer friendly shop that gave me a printout of the front end specs for a 2003 ,E-350 Van , Super Duty....This is what they are....

FRONT Min. Pref. Max. Cross Min. Pref. Max.

CASTER 1.3 4.0 6.8 -0.5 1.8 4.5 7.3

CAMBER 0.0 0.5 1.0 ---- 0.0 0.5 1.0

INDIVIDUAL -0.10 0.05 0.15 -0.10 0.05 0.15
TOE

All the areas to enter specifications for the REAR were blank. (Don't know if that indicates no adjust ability OR if that information requires the vehicle to actually be on the rack with the alignment equipment installed and reading differences between the front & rear).
I suspect it's the latter.

Now for more interesting information as to how having a load (weight) in the rear of the vehicle can effect handling and the (feel).
I also have been experiencing a pull to the left. This seemed to happen over the winter months. This is why I have been looking into/studying , about alignment stuff. I would like to be an "INFORMED" customer when I go into the shop that will eventually (maybe) do my alignment work. But here is what happened. .... I happen to have an aprox. 30 to 40 gallon water tank located in the rear left side of the Van. I happened to fill it back up a few days ago. As you might imagine that's a good chunk of weight (lets say about 300 pounds) added right over the left rear wheel. How about that!!!! My Van no longer is pulling to the left!!!! Driving nice & straight down the road and feels a little lighter in the steering as well. Now obviously...adding weight to the rear right or left is not how you are supposed to correct for steering problems....BUT....It's just shows how much of an effect loads in the rear can change the handling.
I guess I have to add this before someone else points out these other possibilities....Yes...My tire pressures were all correct. Yes...My Ball Joints are all in good shape. I will also point out that I am also seeing front tire wear on the outside edge's. Without looking at records, I guess I got 8000 miles since putting these new tires on. Now is this just normal wear from turning and hitting exit ramps a bit more aggressively than I guess some people do? I don't know. If front tires didn't tend to wear like this and all tires stayed with a flat wear pattern till there was no tread left....Why would we need to rotate them?
Anyway, On to the next "RANT". Old WalMart might be good to do business with in some locations of the Country but LOOK OUT! if your in Coventry R.I. Here you will find another bunch of idiots! I got "LUCKY" that they could take me right away for a tire rotation & balance. (I figure since the left pull went away & it was due for rotation, why not.) Plus there was the possible front alignment to be done so I wanted the tires to be in the position for the alignment. (Don't know if that has any effect on the whole deal).
Anyway, I had to make sure I explained that I had $140 worth of chrome, full thread covering, lug nuts on there and I didn't want them handled like the usual OEM steel nuts (you know, air ratcheted off right till the end of the stud and half of them falling to the cement floor...) So that's O.K. ... I watch them (LIKE A HAWK). When the guy goes to reinstall the wheel/tire I see he is in the process of brushing on a liberal quantity of anti-seize to the studs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoa!!!!!!!!!!!! I stepped right behind the counter and swung open the door to the garage. (That's like a Federal Offense as far as WalMart is concerned). I screamed "STOP WHAT YOUR DOING RIGHT NOW!!!". "What are you putting all over my lug studs???" "Duhhh anti-seize" I said..."NO SIR!, Get it off there RIGHT NOW!"
"Duhhh, Well we always do it like this". I said...Good, your not doing it on MY VEHICLE! He starts in with his WalMart mechanic training speech but I interrupted him. I said...did you have any trouble getting those wheels or lug nuts off?" ... "Duhhhh , No" I say...Well there you have it. I say do you know how much you can over torque a lug nut when you use any sort of lubricating product on it? Because we are not going to find out on MY VEHICLE today. CLEAN IT OFF!!!
Next I watch a separate WalMart (monkey) do the final torque with a click type torque wrench. Apparently in WalMart monkey training school they don't bother to teach them that the proper way to dial into a set torque is to smoothly and consistently apply tightening pressure till the wrench clicks. Not jump & jerk multiple times up & down on the wrench till you click it. Yeah, 140 Ft. Lbs. is sort of a lot. Get an extension bar if you can't do it with just the length of the wrench. O.K. So it's not the biggest (end of the world) sort of thing. But this is not my first time on the ride either. It's funny that at the same time I hear the counter guy tell some young girl that... "they couldn't do her oil change because they couldn't get the drain plug out. Whoever the last guy that did it must have striped the threads". Call me a pessimist but I think it's more likely the WalMart monkeys striped the threads and were covering their tracks as best they could. I think this way because it happened to me at a Jiffy Lube years ago. And because I see the type of people that work in (SOME) of these places.
Needless to say...I will now be R&R'ing each of my wheels to make sure the threads are clean & the proper torque is dialed in with the proper tightening sequence. Ain't Life grand!?
Yeah...I know....It sounds like I am a real $%^#hole in this story. That's what happens when you live in a world where the standard for Quality & Pride in Workmanship & Customer satisfaction has been allowed to be lowered to these standards without anyone getting pissed off & DEMANDING things be done RIGHT! No, I don't know everything and I CERTAINLY don't want to open up the big DEBATE about "I have been putting grease on my lug studs for 50 years and have not lost a wheel yet. And the nuts always break loose easy...". WE already had that thread/debate. And we had an answer too! The specifications for wheel lug nuts/threads is for the threads to be CLEAN & DRY to achieve a proper installation & torque. There's LOTS of other information out there about how application of ANYTHING else is likely going to cause an over torqued (or maybe more appropriately) Will ruin the "plasticity" of the threads and permanently deform them. Again...not looking to open up a can of worms. If you currently are a greaser, Keep right on doing it. If your happy so am I...LOL Hope you enjoyed (MY) experience through my eyes and hope someone can enjoy the specifications provided and maybe be able to put them to good use somehow when they go for an alignment.
My next adventure will probably be with an alignment shop trying to explain that I DON'T want an alignment, I want an alignment CHECK. Then and ONLY THEN, after examining where the vehicle CURRENTLY stands and talking about what bad characteristics it may be currently exhibiting, would I like to hear what degree changes (YOU) with your "years of alignment experience" would suggest should be made. I say "suggest" specifically because I want them to KNOW it's MY VEHICLE and I drive it all the time, so I know best what it's doing that feels or IS wrong and that I''m not interested in a "boiler plate" alignment. I'm not suggesting it's appropriate for them to go OUTSIDE of the factory specs. BUT iI might want them to lean to the far end of a spec. If it's something (I) feel confident in my own ability to call for that. Essentially, Don't LIE to me and tell me a big story about how you "adjusted" all the things that could be adjusted when all you really did was change the Toe by some tiny degree and then charge me some astronomical fee for doing 20 minutes of actual work. There shouldn't be any such thing as a "standard $89.99 front end alignment" offered by any HONEST shop.
They have an hourly rate. USE IT! Don't charge your customers by how many of your children are currently enrolled in Private School or
some Ivy league institute of higher education. A Merry Christmas to All and to All a good Night......LOL DDT
 

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DDT I agree, and thats why I almost always bring wheels in, loose, off my vehicle. To avoid the anti-seize and bouncing on torque wrench. I use Walmart due to how many there now, & I'm on the road a bit, if I have a major fail. I do the hawk eye thing also, & wonder what they say about me too, but it's my butt & family on the line when truckin down highway that may suffer, due to someones ignorance/improper training. I have a good long story how I got Jiffy Lube to replace my transmission, on my Dodge van. Anyhow, thats why I believe we are all on these forums, educating ourselves to prevent problems, & learning to fix it ourselves, or maybe, being able to spot a shoddy unnecessary repair/misdiagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the words of agreement bork. I figured when I peeked in here to check reply's I was going to see a lot of posts of a disagreeing/negative tone. I am aware that quite a few members on here are (in the industry) in some manner or another. Often on the web people will jump to the defense of (something or someone) when they really have no clue that what has been said is factual.
The truth is the truth. I wrote a long post about various subjects above. IMO every word is a true an accurate example of how things were/are done out there in auto repair world. What I still don't understand is this. A person or shop can be just as successful (maybe even more so) by simply being honest and competent. There is SO much auto repair work to be had that there is just no reason to be a crook except pure GREED.
Anyway, I don't want to get into another (rant). I hope people will post their thoughts & experience's along the general lines of this subject. (Front end alignments).
I would be interested for any further details on what OEM Ford alignment sleeves look like and specifically where they go?
opinions on the aftermarket devices that are considered (adjustable) and if they are a quality product?
How about some thoughts about the manner in which I described my front tires wearing out? (Outside edges)? Normal or not?
Should (after I run the tires another 8000 miles), I take them in and have them dismounted from the wheels & reverse mounted so I can wear down what was formally the inside edge?
And most important.....Who the heck can I get to do it!? LOL
Guess I will have to do as bork suggests and take them in off the vehicle.
That's how I got the new tires, But I had a lift then & someone to give me a ride in a pickup truck.
Wonder if a Taxi would mind hauling 4 tires/wheels along for the ride?....LOL DDT
 
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