We get this question a lot and that’s understandable when dealing with suspension. So, do you need a camber kit when installing our coilovers? Maybe. Like with many things pertaining to modifying a vehicle, there is a lot that goes into it so it makes it quite difficult for a cut and dry answer of yes or no. Let’s start with the basics.
Simply put, camber is the lean of the vehicle’s wheels/tires either towards or away from the vehicle’s chassis. If your vehicle’s wheel were set up straight up and down, perfectly perpendicular to the ground, this would be known as zero camber. Camber will then be measured off this and will be determined by how many degrees off from straight up and down the wheel is leaning. If the top of the wheel is leaning in toward the vehicle this is known as negative camber. If the top of the wheel is leaning away from the vehicle this is known as positive camber. See illustration below.
At first glance it would be easy to think that all vehicles have zero camber, the wheel is set straight up and down. This is actually not true. While as subtle as it may be, vehicles will have at least a little negative camber if setup properly. Without going into the physics behind tire load vs. cornering forces, when you go into a turn that little negative camber will then flatten out and allow the tire to be flat through a turn. See illustration below.
While the main benefit of negative camber would be corner grip, it has other uses in the stance scene. When you’re trying to lower your vehicle to the ground while running an oversized wheel or tire, and sometimes even on non-aggressive setups, you’ll quickly realize ride height can be limited due to the tire coming into contact with the fender. By adding extra negative camber you allow the tire to lean into the vehicle allowing for it fit into the wheel well tighter and thus allowing you to drop the vehicle lower. While extremely exaggerated, see the photo below for an idea of how this can work.
Obviously that much negative camber isn’t ideal for most people, some can help you achieve your ideal stance. Keep in mind, by tilting the wheel into the vehicle that will also put the tire closer to suspension components so that will need to be taken into consideration when deciding how much camber you want.
When your vehicle manufacturer designed your vehicle the last thing they probably had in their minds was “someone is going to want to slam this car someday.” How inconsiderate huh? Well since they designed it for the factory ride height, when you lower the vehicle it will throw off important suspension geometries, including some that will throw off camber. The manufacturer was kind enough to allow for some adjustment to correct for camber differences from the factory but sometimes it isn’t enough. We always recommend getting an alignment after a suspension installation. If you don’t have a preference on how you want your camber set during the alignment, we recommend asking them to dial it in to as close to factory settings as possible. But if you leave the alignment shop wanting more or less camber there are a few options. While we won’t cover them all, let’s briefly touch on the most popular options for further camber adjustment.
A camber plate will be installed on top of the coilover strut and will allow the coilover to lean towards or away from the vehicle. Leaning the coilover will alter the camber in the same direction; leaning it toward the vehicle will increase negative camber and leaning it away from the vehicle will increase positive camber.
Adjustable Control Arms
Adjustable control arms will replace your factory control arm and give you further adjustment, they’re typically threaded. Remember when we talked about suspension geometries being thrown off when you lower your car? Well the controls arms are one of the main areas; they’ll often be too long. Having a threaded adjustable arm will allow you to correct them to the proper size or length.
Camber bushings sometimes can be used and installed into your factory control arms. The factory control arm bushings will be centered at the end of the control arm. Camber bushings will have an off-set mounting hole in the bushing and will allow for slight camber corrections.
Camber bolts can’t be used on all vehicles but can be used if they work for your vehicle. They essentially will be a smaller diameter than your factory hardware but will have an off-set “lobe” that will change the lean of the hub based on the position of the lobe.
Well that’s a lot of information to digest. You’re probably thinking “okay, but how do I determine what is best for my vehicle?” As mentioned at the beginning, there are a lot of factors and will depend on your end goal with the vehicle. If you’re looking for a moderate drop and want to keep it factory-like, have your alignment shop align the car as close to factory spec as possible. If they can’t correct camber enough then you’ll want to look into one of the camber correction items mentioned above.
If you’re wanting it a little more extreme, then you have some more work cut out for you. Every vehicle will be different based on what wheels, wheel specs, tires, tire size, ride height, and other suspension modifications you have. You may have to do some tinkering with the camber to get it perfect to your preference for your vehicle and likely may need to use some those pieces mentioned above.
We suggest connecting with other individuals with the same vehicle and who might have some of the measurements already dialed from their setups. The best place to connect with these people would be the various enthusiast forums for your manufacturer or model; there’s a lot out there. As always, if you have other questions feel free to reach out to us directly, 801-365-1440.