Ford- Fairmount/Zephyr 1978-1983 Repair Guide

Front End Alignment



If tires are worn unevenly, if the vehicle is not stable on the highway or if the handling seems uneven in spirited driving, wheel alignment should be checked. If an alignment problem is suspected, first check tire inflation and look for other possible causes such as worn Suspension and Steering components, accident damage or unmatched tires. Repairs may be necessary before the wheels can be properly aligned. Wheel alignment requires sophisicated equipment and can only be performed at a properly equipped shop.


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1 Caster angle affects straight line stability

Wheel alignment is defined by three different adjustments in three planes. Looking at the vehicle from the side, caster angle describes the steering axis rather than a wheel angle. The steering knuckle is attached to the strut at the top and the control arm at the bottom. The wheel pivots around the line between these points to steer the vehicle. When the upper point is tilted back, this is described as positive caster. Having a positive caster tends to make the wheels self-centering, increasing directional stability. Excessive positive caster makes the wheels hard to steer, while an uneven caster will cause a pull to one side.


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2 Camber angle influences tire contact with the road

Looking at the wheels from the front of the vehicle, camber adjusment is the tilt of the wheel. When the wheel is tilted in at the top, this is negative camber. In a turn, a slight amount of negative camber helps maximize contact of the outside tire with the road. Too much negative camber makes the vehicle unstable in a straight line.


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3 Toe-in means the distance between the wheels is closer at the front than at the rear of the wheels

Looking down at the wheels from above the vehicle, toe alignment is the distance between the front of the wheels relative to the distance between the back of the wheels. If the wheels are closer at the front, they are said to be toed-in or to have a negative toe. A small amount of negative toe enhances directional stability and provides a smoother ride on the highway.


On the Fairmont/Zephyr the caster and camber are set at the factory and cannot be changed. Only the toe is adjustable.


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 4 To adjust toe, loosen the jam nuts and turn the connector sleeves until the desired specification is obtained-always adjust both sides of the vehicle the same amount

  1. Turn the steering wheel, from left to right, several times and center it.

If the car is equipped with power steering, start the engine before centering the steering wheel.

  1. Secure the centered steering wheel with a steering wheel holder, or any device that will keep it centered.
  3. Release the tie-rod end bellows clamps so the bellows will not twist while adjustment is made. Loosen the jam nuts on the tie-rod ends. Adjust the left and right connector sleeves until each wheel has one-half of the desired toe setting.
  5. After the adjustment has been made, tighten the jam nuts and secure the bellows clamps. Release the steering wheel lock and check for steering wheel center. Readjust, if necessary until the steering wheel is centered and toe is within specs.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 5 Wheel Alignment Specifications