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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, 02:02 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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What new tools exist to lock a steering wheel & brake pedal for a home alignment

Q: What tools do you suggest for locking the steering wheel in place & jamming the brake pedal down to maintain steering wheel centering & prevent rolling while adjusting alignment?

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

I'm considering purchasing a tool to lock the steering wheel in place, and to jam the brake pedal to prevent the wheels from rolling on the turntables.

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 tool do you use to lock the steering wheel in place & to lock the brake pedal in place while doing a wheel alignment?

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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Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2012 at 03:51 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2012, 05:23 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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BB, This is one case where I would recommend finding a friend/assistant to sit in the car and hold the steering wheel and step on the brake. Heck, a teenager would jump on $10 to sit there and be able to text or listen to their iPod while getting paid. Getting a return on the investment for the cost of these tools will be difficult as alignments are not done that often.
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2012, 08:25 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I would recommend finding a friend/assistant to sit in the car and hold the steering wheel and step on the brake
I understand.

However, it is STILL worth the effort to scope out the necessary tools for a variety of reasons:

1. Tools (at the right price) are (almost) always free:
- Why DIY tools are almost always free (1)

2. Out here, an alignment is roughly about $100, and if you are debugging, you're actually looking at two (or more) before-and-after alignments (if you replace related parts).

3. Plus, you can do, perhaps, 10 or 20 alignment checks in your lifetime. So that makes your break-even budget close to $1,000. Of course that includes more tools, but each tool has its own thread:

Often, an intelligently inexpensive solution can be found that works ( la cn90 innovative DIYs!) which cost far less than expected.

For all to benefit, let's try to scope out the two tools here, and let the user decide if they're worth the cost.

a) Lock steering wheel
b) Lock brake pedal
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2012 at 12:50 PM.
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:33 AM
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540indiana 540indiana is offline
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This may sound ridiculous but a cinderblock should be heavy enough to hold the brake pedal down.
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:37 AM
Deathdeelr Deathdeelr is offline
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Steering wheel and Brake pedal lock:

http://www.amazon.com/OTC-4546-Sting.../dp/B000LOVY4Q

Or, if you're like Batman and don't like to arouse suspicion around your home alignments you can always set up a dummy corporation and order:

http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/42...rake_Lock.html

At least you'll have some spares...
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2012, 11:00 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
1. Tools (at the right price) are (almost) always free:
- Why DIY tools are almost always free (1)

I gotta say that the statement above is somewhat misleading. There is definitely a COST to tools, especially good tools. The quality of the tool is often linked to how often it gets used. Tools need to be regarded as an investment. Some investments return value, others lose value. If the tool accomplishes the job and that job is worth more than the cost of the tool, great, you have a ROI. I have bought many tools, both expensive and inexpensive, that were useless, broke when used, or failed to accomplish their designated task. These yielded zero ROI. The ones that get used repeatedly and make my life easier are great investments that return value over and over again. The more you do the task, the greater the ROI. My suggestion to use an assistant for infrequent alignments is simply to say that some tasks are done so infrequently that they do not warrant the purchase of a tool and that a cheaper way to perform a task is sometimes better (more cost effectie) than the purchase of a tool.

Just a different point of view from a cheapskate tool junkie.

Last edited by Fudman; 08-15-2012 at 11:02 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-15-2012, 11:37 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
Getting a return on the investment for the cost of these tools will be difficult as alignments are not done that often.

I agree and posted a similar opinion in this thread not knowing multiple threads were started on camber, toe and tools:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho....php?p=7011977

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I understand.

However, it is STILL worth the effort to scope out the necessary tools for a variety of reasons:

1. Tools (at the right price) are (almost) always free:
- Why DIY tools are almost always free (1)

2. Out here, an alignment is about $100, and if you are debugging, you're actually looking at two (or more) before-and-after alignments (if you replace related parts). Given that $200, and assume an alignment check every 5 years, that's (at least) $500 for your tool budget. Me? I prefer to keep the total down around $250 or so for the tools.

3. Often, an intelligently inexpensive solution can be found that works ( la cn90 innovative DIYs!) which cost far less than expected.

For all to benefit, let's try to scope out the two tools here, and let the user decide if they're worth the cost.

While I agree with this statement, IMHO, this is one situation where I believe $100 or less is well worth it for a digital laser alignment over analog DIY at home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I gotta say that the statement above is somewhat misleading. There is definitely a COST to tools, especially good tools. The quality of the tool is often linked to how often it gets used. Tools need to be regarded as an investment. Some investments return value, others lose value. If the tool accomplishes the job and that job is worth more than the cost of the tool, great, you have a ROI. I have bought many tools, both expensive and inexpensive, that were useless, broke when used, or failed to accomplish their designated task. These yielded zero ROI. The ones that get used repeatedly and make my life easier are great investments that return value over and over again. The more you do the task, the greater the ROI. My suggestion to use an assistant for infrequent alignments is simply to say that some tasks are done so infrequently that they do not warrant the purchase of a tool and that a cheaper way to perform a task is sometimes better (more cost effectie) than the purchase of a tool.

Just a different point of view from a cheapskate tool junkie.
I agree with this as well but I guess a better wording is the cost of the tools is offset by the cost of paying a mechanic and the smaller the difference, less time involved, more often a tool is used, etc. the quicker or greater the ROI. The greater the ROI, the more it is perceived as free. However, it does not take into account, opportunity costs, all else being equal. Nevertheless, we are essentially saying the same thing.

Again, as stated in the other thread, IMHO frequent alignments are unnecessary. Rather than try to debug with multiple alignments, use the money towards a full suspension overhaul depending on mileage and how long a member intends to keep their car to enjoy the overhaul.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-15-2012 at 11:43 AM.
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  #8  
Old 08-15-2012, 12:58 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I understand all the arguments about opportunity cost ... but they may be prematurely 'meaningless' (either way) until/unless we scope out:
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 about tools needed for locking the steering wheel and brake pedal.

Cinderblock notwidthstanding, it looks like this is the current leader for the best tool that locks both the steering wheel and the brake pedal at a 'reasonable' price:

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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.
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Last edited by bluebee; 08-15-2012 at 01:24 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:15 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I understand all the arguments about opportunity cost ... but they are actually 'meaningless' (either way) until/unless we scope out two things:

a) The cost of 'lifetime' alignments for a person (i.e., multiple vehicles)
b) The cost of 'adequate' tools (i.e., tools with enough accuracy to be useful)

This thread is about the latter, not the former (although, I agree, the comparison needs to be made eventually before the tool-buying decision is made).

Cinderblock notwidthstanding, it looks like this is the current leader for the best tool that locks both the steering wheel and the brake pedal at a 'reasonable' price:


Ok, BB. This must be one of those: "I need to derive the answer for myself, regardless of what tribal knowledge and experience there is" .

I play along.... IMO

1) given the one star rating on amazon, the picture of what looks like a $63 caulking gun in a nice red case, I think any DIYer attempting to do a home alignment could easily come up with something home made to keep a steering wheel in place and brake pedal depressed. i.e. In the past, to keep a brake pedal depressed, I simply wedged a piece of wood between the seat and the brake pedal and adjusted the seat forward/backward to depress.

2) Maybe I'm missing something but why does one even need to keep the steering wheel locked and brake pedal depressed for an alignment. After all, the engine is not on, the car is not jacked up and one can easily turn to ignition switch position one, turn the wheel ever so slightly and then turn the ignition off to lock the steering wheel between minor adjustments.

While your exercise for the true cost of a home alignment is admirable. The true cost is really dependent on what can be "home made" without needlessly spending on "free" tools.

Last edited by dvsgene; 08-15-2012 at 01:19 PM.
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  #10  
Old 08-15-2012, 05:05 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
"I need to derive the answer for myself
I've never done an alignment in my life; I've never blocked the steering wheel; and I've never blocked brake pedal.

Someone else is better off authoring this thread (e.g., cn90 for example, who 'has' done his own alignment).

However, I would "like" to do an alignment.

To even consider it, I need to know what tools to use.

This thread is admittedly the least important thread of the home alignment tool trilogy:
So I understand why you might take it less seriously than the other two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
to keep a brake pedal depressed, I simply wedged a piece of wood between the seat and the brake pedal and adjusted the seat forward/backward to depress.
Makes sense. All we need to do is measure that and define it as the suggested tool of choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
why does one even need to keep the steering wheel locked and brake pedal depressed for an alignment.
Here's a quote from RyanM in this thread:
- How to keep the steering wheel (SW) straight (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan M View Post
The steering wheel gets locked down to the brake pedal. It's one of the first steps [of an alignment]
What happens, if you don't lock the steering wheel in place, is the problem the guy had in that thread.
The steering wheel was no longer centered after the alignment shop adjusted his toe by turning the tie rod ends.

Here's another description of what happens if you keep the steering wheel straight:
Quote:
Straighten the Steering Wheel

This part is quite important. If you want your car to drive in a straight line when the wheel is straight then you must keep the wheel straight through this entire process. It is possible to have equally valid alignment settings when the wheel is not set straight, but we definitely don't want that. It's annoying. Straighten your wheel and check often to make sure it stays that way. If your wheel gets turned once mid alignment you will absolutely have to start over.
Here's a home alignment DIY with the $20 steering wheel lock in place:
- DIY 4 Wheel Alignment (1)
__________________
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 11:18 PM.
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2012, 01:52 PM
Deathdeelr Deathdeelr is offline
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BB, it's not exactly necessary to lock the wheel. After setting the toe you can always adjust the steering wheel center by driving the car straight, then adjusting the tie rods 1/4 turn at a time evenly side to side until the wheel is straight, then drive it again, repeat until the car tracks straight with a straight wheel. Then you can lock down the tie rods. You can even recheck the toe if you're afraid you didn't turn both sides evenly.
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  #12  
Old 09-22-2013, 10:31 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathdeelr View Post
After setting the toe you can always adjust the steering wheel center by driving the car straight, then adjusting the tie rods 1/4 turn at a time evenly side to side until the wheel is straight, then drive it again, repeat until the car tracks straight with a straight wheel.
This is an interesting technique because most of us do NOT have a steering wheel clamp.

We also found, accidentally, in this thread, a free way to lock the steering wheel:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > What can I have done at the alignment shop to reduce my drastic E39 inside tire wear?

Notice that, during the toe-in adjustment, we skipped clamping the steering wheel; but that was only because the clamp wouldn't fit with all the water jugs - so - we simply wedged the steering wheel against the jugs by moving the seat forward.
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