Subaru ff-1/1300/1400/1600/1800/Brat 1970-1984 Repair Guide

Front End Alignment


The procedure for checking and adjusting front wheel alignment requires specialized equipment and professional skills. The following descriptions and adjustment procedures are for general reference only.

Front wheel alignment is the position of the front wheels relative to each other and to the vehicle. It is determined, and must be maintained to provide safe, accurate steering with minimum tire wear. Many factors are involved in wheel alignment, and adjustments are provided to return those that might change due to normal wear to their original value. The factors which determine wheel alignment are dependent on one another; therefore, when one of the factors is adjusted, the others must be adjusted to compensate. Descriptions of these factors and their affects on the vehicle are provided below.

Do not attempt to check and adjust the front wheel alignment without first making a thorough inspection of the front suspension components.


Caster angle is the number of degrees that a line drawn through the steering knuckle pivots is inclined from the vertical, toward the front or rear of the vehicle. Caster improves directional stability and decreases susceptibility to crosswinds or road surface deviations.

Camber angle is the number of degrees that the centerline of the wheel is inclined from the vertical. Camber reduces loading of the outer wheel bearing and improves the tire contact patch while cornering.

ff-1 and 1300G

Caster and camber are controlled by hexagonal cams which control the position of the lower ball joint on the control arm. Rotating the inner (caster) or outer (camber) cam by two flats changes caster or camber by 1°.

Except ff-1 and 1300G

Caster and camber are not adjustable on these models. If either of these specifications is not within the factory recommended range, this would indicate bent or damaged parts that must be replaced.


Toe-in is the difference of the distance between the centers of the front and rear of the front wheels. It is most commonly measured in inches, but is occasionally referred to as an angle between the wheels. Toe-in is necessary to compensate for the tendency of the wheels to deflect rearward while in motion. Due to this tendency, the wheels of a vehicle, with properly adjusted toe-in, are traveling straight forward when the vehicle itself is traveling straight forward, resulting in directional stability and minimum tire wear.

The Do-it-Yourself mechanic should not attempt to perform any wheel alignment procedures. Expensive alignment tools are needed and would not be cost efficient to purchase these tools. The wheel alignment should be performed by a certified alignment technician using the proper alignment tools.

Toe-in is adjusted by loosening the locknuts on the tie rods, and turning the tie rods until the proper specification is obtained.

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Fig. Fig. 1 Toe-in adjustment

Before performing the toe-in adjustment, be sure that the steering gear is centered by aligning the marks on it, and that the wheels are straight ahead.

Tighten the locknuts after the toe-in adjustment is completed.


Steering axis inclination is the number of degrees that a line drawn through the steering knuckle pivots is inclined from the vertical, when viewed from the front of the vehicle. This, in combination with caster, is responsible for directional stability and self-centering of the steering. As the steering knuckle swings from lock to lock, the spindle generates an arc, the high point being the straight-ahead position of the wheel. Due to this arc, as the wheel turns, the front of the vehicle is raised. The weight of the vehicle acts against this lift and attempts to return the spindle to the high point of the arc, resulting in self-centering, when the steering wheel is released, and straight line stability.


ff-1 and 1300G

Ride height is measured from the center of the lower control arm to the ground. It should be 8-9 in. (227-238mm). Adjust it by turning the adjustment cam on the front of each torsion bar. Turning the cam clockwise raises, and counterclockwise lowers ride height. Each notch in the cam corresponds to an 3 in. (8mm) change in height.

Access to the cams is obtained through the cooling slots located on either side, below the bumper.

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Fig. Fig. 2 Measuring ride height


4-Wheel Drive Vehicles
  1. Check and even out the tire pressure in both front wheels.
  3. Park vehicle on a level surface and measure the height of the vehicle from the ground. Measurement is taken from the transverse link mounting bolt to the ground.
  5. Adjustment is made by turning the two adjusting nuts on the bottom of each strut. Turn both nuts at the same time and the same amount.
  7. Adjust the other side following the instructions in Step 3.
  9. Re-measure the ground clearance to be sure both sides are even. Recheck and if necessary, adjust toe-in.

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Fig. Fig. 3 Adjusting ride height 4WD vehicles-1980 models