When it comes to the general care and enhancement of your BMW’s performance, it is critical to know about your wheels’ alignment. Camber and caster are two primary areas in wheel alignment. These terms may sound a bit complex, but they are very important when it comes to the behavior of your car, how it steers, and how it wears out your tires. Here is a brief explanation of what camber and caster are and why they are important for your BMW.

Understanding Camber

Camber is the measure of the degree to which the wheels are turned either inward or outward from the vertical plane as viewed from the front of the vehicle. Just think about the view from the front of the car where you are able to see the tires and their inclination. The camber angle is the angle at which the wheels are set either in towards the vehicle or outwards.

  • Positive Camber: If the top of the wheel is positioned outwards, away from your BMW then it is said to have positive camber. This configuration is not typical for most contemporary cars since it results in the uneven wearing of the tires.
  • Negative Camber: If the top of the wheel is tilted inward or towards the car then it is said to have negative camber. This is commonly applied in performance vehicles, especially the BMWs as it can enhance cornering and handling. Negative camber is beneficial in that it keeps the tire in a better position to have better contact with the road when the car is in a turn, providing more traction and stability.

Why Camber Matters

  • Tire Wear: If the camber angles are not set correctly then it leads to uneven wearing of the tires. Excessive positive or negative camber causes the inner or outer tread of the tire to wear out more quickly than the rest of the tread. This means that you will have to change your tires more often and this can be expensive.
  • Handling: Camber influences the traction of your vehicle on the road, especially when cornering. A negative camber can enhance your BMW’s handling and stability because it becomes more responsive in turns. Excessive negative camber results in a stiffer ride and that is the reason why it is important to ensure a balance.

Understanding Caster

A caster is defined as the angle of the steering axis, which is an imaginary line passing through the upper and lower steering pivots. If you consider the front wheel of a bicycle and how it rotates when you twist the handle, that rotation angle is like the caster in your car.

  • Positive Caster: A positive caster is when the steering axis tilts towards the back of the vehicle. This is common in most vehicles and assists in stability and steering.
  • Negative Caster: Negative caster is when the steering axis tilts towards the front of the car. This is rare and generally not used because it can make the car less stable and harder to control.

Why Caster Matters

  • Stability: A positive caster assists in maintaining the stability of the BMW when it is moving at high speeds. It ensures that the wheels get back to the middle position after you have made a turn, which is very important in regaining control.
  • Steering Feel: Correct caster geometry is beneficial for handling and feedback to the driver in normal driving and also in performance driving. It ensures that the car responds in a predictable manner to the driver’s steering commands.
  • Cornering: A positive caster enhances vehicle stability during cornering. When you turn, a positive caster helps the wheels stay closer to the road, which increases grip and control.

BMW Wheel Alignment

Get Help From Our Professional BMW Mechanics

Terry Sayther Automotive is an auto repair company that specializes in European cars in Austin, Texas, and surrounding areas including Buda, Kyle, Lakeway, and Tarrytown. If you are in need of a professional mechanic who understands every nut and bolt of your BMW, including the caster and camber, then you should visit our workshop. All our technicians are fully informed and our shop is well equipped for any BMW repairs. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 512-442-1361.

* Grey BMW M5 Car image credit goes to: Brandon Woyshnis.

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