Volkswagen Air Cooled 1949-1969 Repair Guide

Front End Alignment



The critical geometrical angles in the front end of the Volkswagen vary significantly from model to model and even change somewhat from early models to later models. Because of the importance of these angles to the safe operation of the car, it is suggested that adjustments be left to one's local VW workshop. However, for the enlightenment of technical-minded readers, a description of the relevant angles follows:

Camber is the angle, viewed from the front of the car, that the wheel is inclined from the vertical.

King pin inclination is the angle between a line perpendicular to the road and the pivot point of the steering knuckle.

Caster is the angle, viewed from the side, between the pivot point of the steering knuckle and the vertical line through the wheel center.

Caster helps to bring the wheels back to the straight-ahead position after they have been turned. If the caster angle is too small, the result will be a tendency for the car to wander and be excessively influenced by cross winds and uneven road surfaces.

If the camber angle is too great, steering will be difficult, for the wheels will have a very strong tendency to remain in the straight-ahead position.

Toe-in is the difference in the distance between the rear of the front wheels and the front of the front wheels when the car is facing forward. Toe-in causes the front wheels to be "pigeon-toed" when the car is stationary. However, when the car is moving, the wheels move in parallel due to being forced outward at the front by camber, rolling resistance, wheel bearing play and other factors. Toe-out occurs naturally when the wheel is turned in cornering so that there is a common center point around which all four wheels will turn when a curve is negotiated. If the critical angles are not what they should be, the result will be excessive tire scuffing and wear.


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Fig. Fig. 1 Caster is the fore-and-aft inclination of the steering axis

Caster is the forward or backward tilt of the spindle. Forward tilt is negative caster and backward tilt is positive caster. Caster is not adjustable on the torsion bar suspensions.


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Fig. Fig. 2 Camber is the measurement of the outward or inward tilt of the top of the wheel

Camber is the tilt of the top of the wheel, inward or outward, from true vertical. Outward tilt is positive, inward tilt is negative.

The upper ball joint on each side (on ball joint suspensions) is mounted in an eccentric bushing. The bushing has a hex head and it may be rotated in either direction using a wrench.


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Fig. Fig. 3 Toe-in and toe-out-toe-out is designed into the system so that it occurs when the steering wheel is turned from the straight-ahead position

Toe-in is the adjustment made to make the front wheels point slightly into the front. Toe-in is adjusted on all types of front suspensions by adjusting the length of the tie-rod sleeves.