I can tell when my Mitsubishi Lancer is out of alignment. It’s like The Princess and the Pea: I use this car every day. If anything is off, I know. My alignment is borked right now, and ugh. It’s the one thing that takes my car from zero to hero. What have you done to your car that made it exponentially better?
The stock alignment on a Lancer is terrible. I can’t adjust the camber to compensate for hard cornering, hence my multiple letters of support to the SCCA Solo Events Board several years ago for letting the stock classes have camber bolts.
But I can adjust toe, which makes the process of killing the outer edge of every tire I put on the Lancer a much more pleasurable experience. More toe-out helps with turn-in. Too much toe-in, and an already plow-prone, nose-heavy car doesn’t want to turn.
Somehow the default alignment on the Lancer pulls to one side, too. Perhaps the stock alignment exacerbates torque steer, as I have a front-wheel-drive car. Perhaps it just sucks. Either way, something has knocked my car out of alignment. It pulls towards the crest of every road I’m on, and I hate it.
It’s time to make an appointment with the Lancer Whisperer.
There’s a shop in town I secretly call the Lancer Whisperer. Every time I go in and say “yes, I still track this car for the giggles; please compensate accordingly,” it comes back so much better to drive, it’s unreal. It turns when I want to—immediately. I can go forth, and annoy slower drivers in faster cars. It rules.
Once, I forgot to say these magic words, and the Lancer Whisperer used the stock alignment settings by default. I noticed immediately. It didn’t feel like my car. He thankfully reset it for me to the alignment I’d been using, but now I know. I’ve experienced a better alignment for the shenanigans I do, and I can never go back.
Basic alignment tweaks are such a sharp improvement on my car that I now notice when other cars have the same issue. A Hyundai Elantra rental car a couple years ago was my yearly “worst” pick when I felt that awful dead spot before the wheels let the car turn, just as my car has when its alignment is off.
So, tell us: what have you changed on your car that has made the biggest difference?