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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:39 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What new tools (& turntables) can now accurately measure caster/camber at home?

In another thread, we listed a handful of home alignment DIYs for measuring camber:
- Which of the dozen alignment specs are adjustable on the BMW E39?

I'm considering purchasing a caster/camber kingpin-inclination gauge & turntable to check my alignment at home in my level garage, as long as that equipment doesn't cost appreciably more than a few alignments added up.

Do you have a recommended or suggested gauge and/or turntable for measuring wheel camber?

Googling, there are so many to choose from that I'd like someone with experience to help narrow down the choices to a manageable few.

Q: What caster/camber gauge do you recommend?
Q: What turntable do you recommend?

EDIT: Let's keep the discussion focused on the tools that do the job.
(Later, in a different thread, we can add up the costs and run a comparison of whether the tools are worth it over a lifetime of alignments.)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2012 at 03:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2012, 10:39 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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I'm all for DIY in just about all cases and have done so for my E39. I do have one exception. That is, home alignments.

IMHO, given the cost of tools and time and frequency of the need for alignment, I fail to see the advantage of DIY home alignments when for about $80 in most locales you can find a shop with a Hunter Hawkeye Laser Alignment system which is the essentially the same as BMW KDS II system (Made by Hunter as well). http://www.hunter.com/oem/bmw/kds2/index.cfm

While finding the Hunter system is easy through their website, www.hunter.com finding a competent operator is a bit more difficult. Ask around, call around and you'll find someone competent. I even called the local Hunter rep and asked who they recommend locally since they typically know the owners of the machines.

Yes, you can get away with a plumb line and simple tools at home but unless you have terrible roads or drive on curbs often, alignments specs shouldn't change much once done. I got an alignment using the Hunter Hawkeye system last year for $80 from a highly recommended INDY mechanic who has done hundreds of BMW alignments on highly modified suspensions.

Prior to that, an alignment was done over 8 years ago, and the alignments were well within specs. The only reason I opted to get an alignment was because I did a complete suspension overhaul and got new tires last year, so $80 was just peace of mind.
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:40 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
I fail to see the advantage of DIY home alignments
That topic is a good topic ... but for a different thread.

That thread can compare:
a) The cost of 'lifetime' alignments for a person (i.e., multiple vehicles)
b) The cost of 'adequate' tools (i.e., tools that get the job done relatively easily)

This thread is just about tools needed to measure & adjust camber at home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
These are great tool references!

The first Home Alignment Basics DIY lists this $260 caster camber test kit ...

And it lists this $150 caster camber gauge ...


Note: These are all related, but different, thread topics looking for the right tools for alignment to consider purchasing:
A key question is what accuracy we need for a camber measuring tool?
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:45 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
That topic is a good topic ... but for a different thread.

That thread can compare:
a) The cost of 'lifetime' alignments for a person (i.e., multiple vehicles)
b) The cost of 'adequate' tools (i.e., tools that get the job done relatively easily)

This thread is just about tools needed to measure & adjust camber at home.

This is too funny and ironic coming from someone who tends to cross reference threads on just about anything remotely related to a topic containing similar material.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-15-2012 at 01:47 PM.
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2012, 02:51 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
ironic coming from someone who tends to cross reference threads on just about anything remotely related to a topic containing similar material.
Good point.

I may have reacted too sensitively because I very carefully worded and separated the three tool threads today specifically so that they would NOT be considered a philosophical discussion on whether a home DIY is worth it over a professional DIY.
Even with that approach, I fully expected the bulk of the posts to emphatically reply "it's just not worth it"; and I specifically tried to ward off that response because I'm seriously trying to make headway on the tools - by asking for help in clarifying:
a) What accuracy do we need to adjust camber?
b) What tools can we buy today that give us that accuracy?

We all already know that most people have come to the conclusion, a priori (and perhaps even many decades ago) that the tools aren't worth it. And that they're not accurate enough. The reasons are always the same. And the reasons are always obvious to all.

But, without first attempting to collectively find out whether technology, accuracy, ease of use, and pricing has improved over the past few years, how can we blindly and steadfastly maintain that long-held opinion today (consider the perfectly usable $25 code scanner that this E39 team collectively located, by way of example!).

To your point, and so that people who wish to discuss why they prefer to NOT perform home alignment DIYs, I just now opened this cross-referenced thread:
- Philosphically, why do you choose NOT to perform a home DIY alignment on your E39?

Hopefully that clears the way to discuss the key tool clarifications this thread attempts to elicit (where we all may benefit):
Q1: What accuracy do we need for BMW E39 camber tools? (I'm assuming about , but I really don't know yet.)
Q2: Where can we find a camber measuring tool with that accuracy at a decent price? (I'm assuming roughly <$250.)

As you intimated, here's an inevitable cross reference which shows a home alignment is possible (with the right tools):
- The dozen alignment specs and which are adjustable (1) & cn90's alignment DIY (2)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2012 at 03:41 PM.
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2012, 03:32 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Please remember, we all already KNOW that 'almost' everyone ('cept cn90 and others who think differently) pays for the alignment over the extensive effort of scoping, pricing, selecting, buying, and learning how to use the tools effectively. Specifically, I already know that. We all know that. There's no value in repeating that.
This is where I completely disagree. CN90 does scope, price and select but not in the context on learn how to use tools effectively. The description above I think that is more your trait. CN90 tends to make his own tools from Home Depot and other misc parts lying around to make more effective the tools he has on hand. This is in contrast to your philosophy to buy all the "free" tools in an attempt to justify not having to go to your stealer because of their reputation. It's one thing to use a carpenter square and plumb line and another to spend up to $1000 on "free" tools.

Most other members will fall somewhere in between the two descriptions. However, with regards to this topic at hand, you will find very few members will take the time to level their garage, buy camber tools, brake depressors, and steering holders. More so now that the E39s have fallen to levels where more teenagers are buying. While the skills are applicable to any car in one's garage, topic discussions over the years should be a give away that very few members have an interest to align their cars at home. Contrast that to the more mundane, what oil, coolant or brand should I use that comes up every day regardless of how many times it has been discussed.

Anyway, I will leave these related threads alone so that these threads don't, as you put it, degenerate to the merits of a home alignment. In a weeks time, we shall see the level of interest and hopefully have enough data to come to some meaningful conclusion. I have my opinion already on this as I am sure many others will have theirs. Just don't be surprised if this doesn't generate the type of participation you hope it will.
In case you wonder why this was not posted in the "newly started philosophy thread", I am directly quoting your thread above. But to add to that thread, I have cross linked my opinions on this matter at hand.

Peace Donna.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-15-2012 at 03:46 PM.
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  #7  
Old 08-15-2012, 06:16 PM
JimLev JimLev is online now
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As much as I like buying tools, alignment tools aren't one of them. There is no way you can get all of the alignment adjustments correct in your own home garage. I'll gladly pay BMW to do my alignment.
I'll do everything else.
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  #8  
Old 08-15-2012, 07:03 PM
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gtxragtop gtxragtop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
As much as I like buying tools, alignment tools aren't one of them. There is no way you can get all of the alignment adjustments correct in your own home garage. I'll gladly pay BMW to do my alignment.
I'll do everything else.
Hi, if your not too far away from Berlin MA. There is a shop in Berlin with an owner/mechanic
who is anal about his work. His workmanship is outstanding. Not cheap, but worth it. He has a state of the art hunter alignment system and does Roadforce balancing. Stealer will only adjust to BMW spec. I wanted to reduce rear camber slightly to get better tire wear. Dealer would not do it. The Berlin shop had no issues with what I wanted to do.
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