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Adjusting camber on 1994 K1500
08-13-2004, 01:56 PM
I have a 1994 K1500 with too much positive camber (visibly noticeable), causing the outside of the tires to wear. I had the front end looked at, and I changed the pitman arm, and the idler arm. I was told all else looks good, and to have it aligned. Can I adjust the camber myself, and get it close? Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance, Bob
08-13-2004, 02:34 PM
Most of these trucks have a noticable positive camber, but if yours is bad enough to be wearing the tires like that you should do something about it. Don't know if you would want to do it itself, though. I'd do some more checking first. I was told once by a trustable mechanic that on some model years of these trucks the adjustors for the camber are tack welded in place at the factory. They have to be knocked out and replaced when the camber needs changed. He said it was not fun to do and they charge an extra $120 or more labor when they do a front end alignment that requires it. Hope that's not the case for you. Good Luck.
08-14-2004, 07:47 PM
Correction to the above...The adjusters are NOT tack welded in place. However, there are places behind the adjuster washers that have areas that need to be removed, or "knocked out." Until these pieces of metal are removed the adjusters can not move thru their full range of adjustment. These "knock outs" can be removed easiest with a air impact hammer tool and chisel bit. Hence the extra $120 of labor to remove them. You may be able to get them out with a 5 pound sledge and a very strong punch, but you will be at it awhile. To access the knock outs, you need to have your truck on jacks and the wheels removed. The upper "A" arm bolts that secure it to the frame are where the knock outs are located. Just remove both bolts and washers, and pull the upper A arm out of the way. Then with a strong light, look for a stamping of an oblong oval shape that goes around the bolt holes. Its kinda like a soda can, you can see the opening, but it just needs to be knocked out. For each bolt, there are two holes, and for each hole there are two knock outs(inside and outside). That makes for a total of 16 pieces of metal all of which are about the size of a dime but at least 4 times as thick for both upper A arms. Just be sure to check your ball joints first, I replaced mine as soon as I purchased my truck(147000 miles) and they were shot(96' Z71). You may not be able to tell they are bad just by wiggling the wheel in mid air. My ball joints contributed to a lot of tire wear thru excessive camber. You can save a lot of money by doing these things yourself, however I would strongly recommend that IF you replace ball joints and remove the knock outs, plan to just drive your truck to the shop that will align it for you. It has multiple adjustments that can not be set correctly without a $50,000 alignment rack. You can do a very rough camber setting, but you will find your truck may still wander or pull, the steering will be awefully tight, and your gas mileage will suffer. Pay a reputable shop with NEW alignment racks to do your truck, I would say average rate is about $85 these days for an alignment on a truck. Hope this helps -Chris
08-15-2004, 08:31 AM
Excuse me for jumping in but Chris that was some good info. My truck is a 96 Z71 and 150,000 miles do you suggest I change my ball joints? What do they cost? Do you suggest at the same time I change anything else on my front end??
08-16-2004, 10:31 AM
$30 for each upper and $50 for each lower ball joint. Mine are TRW but Moog is an excellent brand as well. I would not recommend the novice to change out these ball joints, as they are a pain to get out. You need a few special tools, which can be rented, but most important you need patience. These things will drive you insane if you have never done ball joints before, these are not the type to learn on. If you want to try, be my guest, thats how you learn. But be prepared to sink some money into some tools. Air tools especially, they make the job so much easier. I can explain how they are replaced, just send me a message if you want to know. But be prepared, I don't leave out details and I'm long winded. As for if you need anything else replaced, I can't tell you for sure, it all depends on what you find for inspection, and how the truck was driven in its previous years. You may need everything, nothing, or just one thing. I can't begin to tell you that. But know this, if your steering is sloppy, if your steering wheel is off center, if your truck pulls, you've got some problems up front. You need a helper to properly inspect components and a good eye. If you decide to have a shop to it, don't be surprised at the cost being high. This could be anywhere from $300 to $800, maybe higher. For that amount of money, it's almost worth sinking some money into tools and books and doing it yourself. At least you know that the tools are most likely gauranteed for life(Craftsman, Snap-On), the shops gaurantee may only be till you reach the end of the block. And for me, I get serious gratification in knowing that I don't get taken advantage of by crooked mechanics. Hope this gives you an insight into whats involved. -Chris
08-16-2004, 02:24 PM
Chris, thanks for all of the info so far. The truck has 135k miles on it, and I am the original owner. I haven't changed the ball joints on it yet. I religiously grease, and the place that does the yearly NY state insp is very thorough. I am fairly confident that they are fine, but if I am going to be in there knocking out the knock outs, I will change them out. I have no problem doing it myself. I have a lot of air tools from impact to cut-off, to chisles, etc. One question,.. are the knock-outs there to create a slot for the controll arms to ajust in? If so, does anything fill in these areas after the ajustments? Or are the knock-outs there to get to the ajustments? I appreciate all your advice,
Thanks, Bob K.
08-16-2004, 10:35 PM
It's because of mass production. From the factory, they build everything to a pretty tight standard. Then after it's been driven a lot, things start to wear. The knock outs are there to allow full unlimited adjustment for camber and some caster settings. Gm just stamps the outline of the knockouts so that they can be removed in the future if need be. Just think of a perforated piece of paper in a notebook. The perforation just allows the paper to be torn out on the line of perforation. The knockouts are just "perforated" so they can be removed easier than having to cut them out. If you were to try and align the truck with knockouts, it would be difficult to rotate the cam bolts 360 degrees. The cam bolts might only rotate maybe 90 degrees, and that equates to only about 2 degrees of camber/caster change at the wheel. By removing the knockouts you get more like 10 degrees of movement and a much easier time for the alignment tech to make required adjustments in order to get your alignment correct. Some tools you will need for your ball joints includes PATIENCE(FREE), a "pickle fork", a socket big enough for the CV spindle nut(30-36 mm? Don't remember the exact size), you impact gun should be strong enough to remove the spindle nut, metric sockets and wrenches up to 24mm, needle nose pliers, 5 pound sledge, Ball joint press(looks like a c-Clamp on steroids) and adapters, two three ton jackstands, three ton hydraulic jack with large area to jack from(plate should be about 6in in diameter), 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch torque wrenches, brake clean, bungee cords, 3/8 Allen bit(for brake caliper), PBlaster penetrant, drill and superior quality bits(for removing rivets), and of course more Patience. The job for the novice will take about 4 hours per side, maybe more, depending on the stubborness of the ball joints coming out. -Chris
08-17-2004, 07:34 AM
Good info SpitAndDirt. Thanks for correcting my earlier post. It was four or five years ago when I learned about the camber adjustors and my memory was faulty. The spindle nut is 35mm. Good luck Bob.
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