for your 2006+ HONDA CIVIC!
by Chris Shenefield, RedShift Motorsports
The 2006+ Honda Civic has 2 significant issues relating to alignment settings:
#1 - Not enough front camber.
The factory setting for front camber is 0, and a strut suspension gains almost no camber when compressed; so when you corner, the outside suspension gains almost no camber to offset the roll of the car. This lack of front camber causes the tire to roll onto the outside edge under extreme cornering; so the harder you push the car, the less grip you have. Ever felt your car understeer when pushed really hard through a corner? To combat this problem, it's important to set the front camber more negative (top of tire in toward centerline of car). See my alignment suggestions below for what camber you may want to run on your own car.
Do I need front camber bolts? If you want to run more camber for better front end grip, then you need camber bolts. 1 bolts per side (up to 1.4° camber) is all most people need, but 2 bolts per side is better for autocross and track cars. More front camber will result in more tire wear; so only add camber bolts if you are ok with a little extra front tire wear. 1 bolt per side will reduce your front tire life to about 80% of what it would be at stock settings. 2 bolts per side will reduce your front tire life to about 60% of what stock would be at stock settings. But note that if you drive you car really hard or autocross/track it, then the improved front end grip will be more important to you than tire life. Anyone driving their car really hard will find that with more front camber, your tires will actually wear more evenly... but they won't last as long as the guy who just commutes on stock alignment settings.... but that's obvious. :)
#2 - Too much rear camber.
Where the front suspension gains almost no camber under compression, the rear of the car gains lots of camber. So in extreme cornering, the tire gains negative camber to offset the roll of the car, and that keeps the contact patch of the tire firmly on the ground. This is a very "safe" feature of the Civic because the harder you push the car into a corner, the rear tires of the car grip really well, and this provides for an "understeering" car.... nice and safe the way Honda intended it so your grandmother doesn't get in trouble on her way to the store for prunes. And in the performance world, this whole setup works perfectly except for 1 thing... and that 1 thing is that when you lower the car, the rear tires gain significant "static" negative camber (static means "when the car is just sitting there parked"). This additional negative camber is then always present when the car is lowered, even when the car is just driving straight, an this means it will wear the inside of the tires faster than normal. So, if you don't want to wear the inside of the tires, then you need camber adjustment to set the rear camber back to "stock" specifications. See my alignment suggestions below for what camber you may want to run on your own car.
Do I need rear camber adjusters? The best simple answer is that anyone lowering their car more than 1" needs camber adjusters. Still, any amount of lowering will camber the rear tires more negative than stock; so you will get additional rear tire wear with ANY lowering of the car in back. So, if you decide to get an HFP kit or Prokit and are only lowering the car 3/4" or 1" at most, you probably don't need rear camber adjusters, but you will still see more inside tire wear than stock (which many people think is already too much). So, in general I think rear camber adjusters are needed.... and the lower you go, the more you need them. They are DEFINITELY needed if you lower the car 1.5" or more.... although they are not needed for safety... it's only a tire wear issue. So, if you don't have the money up front for the rear camber adjusters, it's not a big deal other than tire wear over time. And at 1.5" lowering, your rear tires will probably last about 60% as long as they would at the stock setting... so it's a big difference. At 1" drop, the rear tires will last about 85% of stock...not as bad... so that gives you some sense of what you have to gain (or lose).
Chris' Performance Alignment Recommendations
Use at your own risk.
First, please note Honda's alignment specifications here:
Honda Factory Alignment Specs - CLICK HERE!
And here is a link to information on the Honda Civic rear camber arm TSB (C-Stamped arms)
2006-11 Honda Civic C-Stamped Rear Camber Arm Info
If you want to retain all the safety Honda built into your Honda Civic,
then use the factory alignment settings!
If you have read the important note directly above, then please continue
to my performance alignment recommendations below.
Street "Mild Performance"
Front Camber: -1.0°
(1 Ingalls bolt per side needed in upper hole.)
Front Toe: Factory setting
Rear Camber: -0.8° to -1.5°
(This range is the same as factory because not all Civic's had the same camber. Early on in the Civic's production, customers complained of too much wear on the inside edge of the rear tires; so Honda equipped some Civics with a "C" stamped upper rear control arm to reduce camber from approx -1.5 to approx -0.8. The less camber you run, the better your tire wear will be but the less grip you will have in back for extreme handling maneuvers. I would recommend -0.8 for anyone super concerned about tire wear and -1.5 if you want to retain the best rear grip at all handling levels (because that is where Honda originally set it.) Either the Ingalls rear camber adjusters or Skunk2 (or any other) replacement arms provide the adjustment necessary.
Rear Toe: 0.06° per side (a positive number is toe in)
(on the safe end of the available factory range.)
Front Camber: -1.4°
(1 Ingalls bolt per side needed in upper hole at max adjustment setting.)
Front Toe: 0 total
(0 toe is factory setting but also a good aggressive street spec. Or you can try a hair of toe out, but generally toe out will destroy tires fast as a daily driver.)
Rear Camber: -1.5°
(provides better rear grip for extreme handling. Either the Ingalls rear camber adjusters or Skunk2 (or any other) replacement arms provide the adjustment necessary.)
Rear Toe: 0.04° per side (a positive number is toe in)
(on the more aggressive end of the available factory range.)
Race (Autocross or Track)
Front Camber: -2.5° or more
(2 Ingalls bolts per side needed at max adjustment setting provides a hair over -2.0°. Some super fast people are running over -3° with camber plates on coilovers. The ASR camber plates by themselves provide only up to -2.5° camber because more is not possible without notching the ~4" hole at the upper strut mounting position...and this is not a legal mod for most race classes. To get more than -2.5°, you must use a combination of camber plates and camber bolts.)
Front Toe: -0.16° to -0.32° toe per side (a negative number is toe out)
(This will make the car wander when going straight but will drastically improve cornering.... the range -0.16° to -0.32° equals 1/16-1/8" toe out for those doing toe settings manually. Best place to start is -0.16° if you are not sure. Toe out will chew up the inside edge of the front tires on a daily driver; so this is a race-only setting.)
Rear Camber: -2.5 or more
(more rear camber provides more consistent grip in back through the run/lap so you can attack the run all the way to the end without loosing the rear end. Either the Ingalls rear camber adjusters or Skunk2 (or any other) replacement arms provide the adjustment necessary.)
Rear Toe: 0.00° to 0.02° toe per side (a positive number is toe in)
(Run 0 rear toe or even positive toe with the super-soft stock rear bushings. Frankly we ran the max toe out (max positive) our Civic's adjustment would allow. When we changed to poly rear lower control arm bushings, then we had to set rear toe back to 0 rear toe.)
Best tire pressure for autocross/track setup:
Maximize grip, period. Running less camber usually requires higher tire pressure to combat the tire rolling over onto it's edge and loosing grip. If running more camber, there is less need to run high front pressures. So, if you are running stock front camber (zero), then you'll want to run 40+ psi in front. If you are running -1.4 front camber, then you'll probably want to run 35-38 psi in front. If you are running -2.0 or more negative camber in front, then you will likely be around 32-35 psi in front.
Rear tire pressure is more complicated because it's a balance of ultimate grip, rotation, and how easy the car is to drive. I hear many people raising rear tire pressures to get the car to rotate better, and this is a very bad idea in my opinion. A tire with higher pressure will grip really well until it starts to slide, and then it's hard to control. I am a strong believer in running lower rear pressures. Why? Because it provides rotation without the tire sliding (which allows the car to rotate in a more controlled manner). You see, the lower the tire pressure, the more "slip angle" the tire will provide (because it's soft and flexes more). Slip angle is the angle defined by 1) the direction the tire is pointed and 2) the direction the tire is actually travelling. A good diagram is located here: Slip Angle Explained ...note the diagram is good, but I don't like the explanation they have much because a tire's slip angle isn't necessarily "sliding" as that page suggests... slip angle from a softer tire is simply the tire "working". Sliding is what happens when the contact patch cannot grip anymore, and slip angle actually decreases when the tire is sliding due to lack of grip (and this is where you spin or at least loose control).
Stay with me on this.... so, with a softer tire, we get increased slip angle when the tire is working... and that increased slip angle is effectively "dynamic toe". Meaning, it's the equivalent of the rear tire toeing out a bit to let the car rotate better. Also, a softer tire is easier to control; so you get good rotation without risking a loss of control. I regularly run 24-27 psi in the rear tires on nationally prepped FWD cars and have run as low as 12 psi in back to see how a particular car would act (although I DO NOT recommend you try that). If I were to take a guess at what would be the fastest tire pressure setup on your 2006+ Civic, I would guess 35 psi front and 25 psi rear. Start at something more like 35 psi front and 32 psi rear, but then lower the rear pressure in steps and see how you go faster.
ONE MORE POINT.... a softer tire provides additional slip angle well before the limit of the tire. This means that the rear tires are providing rotation for the car well before it's limit, and that makes it faster. For those who increase rear tire pressure to make the car rotate better, you are causing reduced slip angle in back and the car will feel "tight" and not want to rotate until the tire actually starts to slide, and that lack of rotation hurts your speed everywhere on course. Still, it is true that the fastest car will not have too low pressure in the rear tires because that will reduce rear grip; so some balance of tire pressure, spring rate, swaybar, shocks, toe, camber, and what you eat for breakfast is needed to win at Nationals. And if you've read this far, welcome to car development. ;)
NOW GO HAVE FUN!!!!!!