A Quick Guide to Camber: What VW Owners Need To Know
Camber describes the angle between your vehicle’s wheels and the road. Wheels with positive camber lean away from the car’s center, while wheels with negative camber lean inward. These negative and positive differences are quite small—often 1–10 degrees in either direction—but greatly impact your vehicle’s performance and handling. If you want to modify the tilt of your Volkswagen’s wheels to optimize your overlanding experience, check out our quick guide to camber that contains everything VW owners need to know.
Understanding Positive and Negative Camber
Most vehicles feature some degree of negative camber, as this alignment is ideal for daily driving activities. Negative camber increases tire grip while also minimizing vibration, creating a smoother and quieter ride on pavement and other flat surfaces. Negative camber also provides better road contact when cornering and significantly boosts handling performance during high-speed maneuvers. Unsurprisingly, many race car configurations feature aggressive negative camber to improve handling around the track. However, a wheel tilting inward is not ideal for overlanding activities.
Positive camber is more beneficial for off-road vehicles due to its unique performance advantages. The outward tilt of the wheels provides a higher degree of stability on uneven terrains, helping to distribute the vehicle’s weight more evenly across the tire surface. This vastly improves traction and control when navigating rough, rocky, or sloped landscapes. Even more beneficial, positive camber reduces strain on your vehicle’s suspension system by absorbing the impact of bumps and shocks more effectively.
How Positive Camber Impacts Tire Wear
Now that you know the off-roading benefits of positive camber, it’s essential that you learn how this adjustment impacts your tires. When the tops of the wheels lean outward, this reduces the tires’ surface area in contact with flat surfaces. Excessive on-road driving eventually creates uneven wear patterns on the outer tire edges, reducing their overall durability and performance. Of course, there are exceptions to this; positive camber improves tire wear compared to negative angles when hauling heavier loads or traversing challenging terrain. So if you really like to take your VW on the trails, positive camber might actually extend the lifespan of your tires.
Adjusting Your VW’s Camber
Modifying your automobile’s camber isn’t the hardest DIY task, but it does require excellent attention to detail and some knowledge of how automotive suspension works. If you make a mistake when adjusting your VW’s camber, it could increase strain on your suspension system and cause significant mechanical complications. Before you start working on your car, purchase a modified level or a spirit level gauge and a wooden plank—these simple tools help you achieve accurate angles when tilting your wheels.
Start by preparing your vehicle. Adjust the tire pressure and make sure the steering is exactly straight on, and park your car on a flat and level surface, such as a concrete floor in a garage. Then, tape the piece of wood to the flat side of your preferred level to match the wheel’s diameter. Place the level against the wheel and estimate the camber angle based on the bubble reading on the gauge. To make adjustments, you’ll need a lift kit. These products include lifted springs, extended control arms, and adjustable suspension elements that enable you to fine-tune the camber angle.
As a VW owner, you need to know the basics of camber before attempting significant overlanding modifications. For additional information and resources for your DIY endeavors, check out our selection of helpful tools at B2BFAB. We carry an easy-to-install Volkswagen Atlas lift kit and related products to ensure your ride meets its full performance potential.