What Is Negative Camber?
Negative camber is a term used to describe the alignment of a vehicle’s wheels, specifically their tilt. When a vehicle has a negative camber, the top part of the front wheels leans inward towards the center of the vehicle. This alignment contrasts with positive camber, where the wheels tilt outward. Camber is one of three primary wheel alignment angles, the other two being caster and toe.
What Causes Negative Camber?
Negative camber can be either intentional or a result of wear and tear. It’s often set beyond the manufacturer’s specifications by racers and car enthusiasts to enhance handling during high-performance driving. However, various factors like bent spindles, dislocated strut towers, worn or collapsed control arm bushings, or weak springs can also lead to negative camber, often unintentionally.
Problems Caused By Negative Camber
The main issues caused by excessive negative camber include:
- Wear and Tear: Accelerated wear on the inside of the tire tread and premature wheel bearing wear.
- Reduced Stability: The vehicle may pull to one side, affecting its stability and straight-line performance.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Negative Camber
- Improved vehicle handling.
- Reduced wheel vibrations.
- Enhanced cornering speed for aggressive drivers.
- Reduced straight-line acceleration and braking.
- Premature wear and tear on tires.
- Increased risk of wheels breaking loose.
- Less stability in straight-line driving.
- Reduced tire-roadway contact in severe negative camber scenarios.
- Potential to lock steering.
Please note that the disadvantages or negative effects are caused by too much negative camber. A slight negative camber does not pose any harm to tires and vehicle performance.
How to Fix Too Much Negative Camber?
Fixing excessive negative camber involves several steps:
- Wheel Alignment: Adjusting the camber angle to factory settings.
- Suspension Components Check-Up: Inspecting and potentially replacing or adjusting control arms, trailing arms, ball joints, and wheel bearings.
- Camber Kits and Bolts: Using specialized kits and bolts for finer adjustments.
- Resetting Factory Settings: Ensuring alignment adheres to the manufacturer’s original specifications.
How Much Negative Camber is Beneficial for Your Car?
A little negative camber, less than one degree, can be beneficial. It leads to reduced vibrations, increased cornering ability, and prolonged tire life. However, exceeding one degree of negative camber can lead to poor acceleration, braking issues, reduced stability, and increased tire wear.
Generally, anything over two degrees is detrimental for street use, with three degrees and higher causing serious problems quickly. This includes stress on rear wheels and potentially locked steering.