Monday, January 14, 2013

ATV Front End Alignment

ATV’s regularly require the adjustment of the toe-in of the front wheels. Toe-in refers to the amount the front wheels are angled inward. The front tires are closer in the front than in the back at axle level. The majority of ATVs and UTV’s call for the front wheels to be slightly angled in to parallel.
Proper toe-in alignment is critical for tire wear, safety and performance.
Let’s get started!

Be sure to check your service manual for any special instructions specific to your machine. It's also a good idea to spray WD-40 on all the threaded parts a few minutes ahead of time to loosen up any frozen or corroded parts.
Step 1: Inspect all bearings, joints and rubber gaskets on the front end for wear or breakage.  Now is the time to replace any worn or broken parts.  Doing this might actually repair the front end alignment and save you the trouble!

Step 2: Check tire pressure in all 4 tires. Check your factory specification manual for proper pressure.  Both front tires should have the same pressure. Be sure your Quad is on a level surface and align the steering straight forward.

Step 3: Use a piece of chalk or silver Sharpie to mark the center of each front tire at the height of the spindle/axle.  

Step 4: Use a steel tape to measure the distance between the front chalk marks and make a note of that measurement. Spin the front wheels 180° so the marks remain at axle height, but are now facing to the rear wheels. Again, take a measurement between the 2 marks on the tires.

Step 5: After both measurements are taken subtract your 2nd measurement (rear facing) from your 1st measurement (front facing). If the result is positive this is your toe-in calculation.  If the number is negative, you have a toe-out condition. Consult your factory specification manual to compare your toe-in figure.

Step 6: Loosen the lock nuts on the tie-rods. Outer tie-rod lock nuts often will have left-hand threads.

Step 7: Turning the tie rods with a wrench on the flats will change the toe-in. Make even adjustments to the left and right tie-rods for correct alignment. Your service manual will state if there are any specifications for the length of the tire rods or the amount of threads exposed. Adjustments to tie rods must be made according OEM specifications. Improper adjustment could cause the vehicle to not steer correctly, and you could be at risk of breaking a tie-rod.

Step 8: After correct adjustment are made, hold the tie-rod with a wrench and tighten the lock nuts to specified torque against each side of the tie-rod. Double check all connections and take a slow test ride to check the machines steering and maneuverability.