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I see a lot of information about how to check and adjust front toe at home using the string method, but it seems to rely on rear wheels that are properly aligned. I understand that the rear wheels on my 2004 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport also have adjustable toe, so am wondering how to check rear alignment using a DIY method like this.

Furthermore, I am interested in this because I am replacing a rear strut, and hear that one should check/adjust alignment after doing so. Is it necessary to do so for the rear?

  • Just for the record, I successfully replaced the rear strut without noticeable misalignment and have been driving it around a bit for about a month without a proper alignment. – tim.farkas Jan 6 '15 at 19:22
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You can check the rear toe in exactly the same way you check the front toe -- using the same string setup, parallel to the car's centerline, measure the distance from the string to the leading and trailing edges of the wheel.

One thing to be careful of is that the rear tread (a.k.a. track) may be different than the front. When you're lining up your string, you have to compensate in your measurements to be sure that it is parallel to the centerline. For example, on my Fozzie the rear tread is 57.1 inches but the front is 58.1. Thus, I'd initially measure out a half-inch more from the rear hub in order to get the string correctly situated.

Keep in mind that the rear toe adjustment on your car is accomplished using an eccentric bolt like the front camber bolt. It's locked with a nut that Subaru recommends be replaced when it is removed.

NASIOC has a pretty darned thorough thread on the procedure, although unfortunately the images seem to have gone missing.

Whenever you replace suspension components, you should check your alignment. I've heard that some shops may put your car on the rack for free and give you a printout of the measurements, but I'm somewhat skeptical of that.

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When you consider that you are adjusting your track to mere millimeters across a width of a couple of metres you will realise what a complete folly it would be to use a 'piece of string'. Compound this by the setting of the four wheels and you should be convinced of the complete viability of a four-wheel tracking adjustment at your favourite tyre shop or repair shop.

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    While you may think "placing a piece of string" to be ineffectual, you would be quite wrong, Allan. While I haven't used this method on cars, this is how we would adjust the steering on large Caterpillar front end loaders which have crab steer. Their wheel track is quite a bit longer than a Subaru. Besides, the method mentioned is not about getting a perfect alignment. You do it to get a "pert near" alignment done so you can get it to the shop for a "perfect" alignment. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 8 '14 at 21:10
  • The use of a piece of string for a precise job on a road going vehicle is a complete nonsense. No where in question does it say anything in the order of 'getting it to a repair shop'. – Allan Osborne Oct 9 '14 at 18:37
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    Maybe it's that way in your perfect world, but out here in the real world things get done. Just because the regular way of doing a front end alignment requires a rack and lasers, doesn't mean a string used correctly won't get the job done. It will take longer and the one pursuing this method needs to be more attentive, but it can be done. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 9 '14 at 23:12

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