HOW-TO: ALIGN AN ATV FRONT END
— Make sure your ride is ready, By the staff of Dirt Wheels —
Have you noticed that your ATV or UTV isn’t tracking straight like it used to? Or it might be that the handlebar or steering wheel isn’t in the correct position? Either way, these things can become a nuisance if the front end is off even slightly. So, how can these things be fixed without taking it to a repair shop? Fixing each of these problems is much easier than you think, and hopefully you’ll save some time, money and aggravation with these tips.
ADJUSTING FRONT-END TOE
Our 2017 Honda Rancher 420’s front end got out of sorts after nailing a rock at full speed. The left front wheel was pointing hard to the left, while the handlebar and right tire were straight. Here’s how we aligned it.
1. Here you can see what it shouldn’t look like. Be sure that the machine is on level ground before you start work.
2.The next step is to sit on the quad and make sure the handlebar is straight. Then use a tie-down—it can be ratchet or standard style—and tie both hooks to each side of the handlebar, that way the front end won’t move while adjusting.
3. Loosen the tie-rod end nuts. One side of the tie-rod has left-handed threads, so be sure not to damage the nut by going the wrong way. The tie-rod itself has a dimple towards the outside edge that you can put a wrench on. Be sure to use a wrench to hold that while loosening both tie-rod nuts.
4. Once those are good and loose, you can measure the front end. Starting with the center of the front tires, use a tape measure to see what the measurement is. You will then take this same measurement on the back-side center of the front tires. These two measurements will give you two different measurements. Write each measurement down for reference as you go.
5. The rule is to have 1/4 inch of toe-in. To achieve this, you can use your hand or a wrench to spin the tie-rods clockwise or counterclockwise to get the toe where it needs to be. The front measurement should be 1/4 inch less than the rear measurement. You’ll have to spin the tie-rods and re-measure as you go. It can become frustrating, but it’s necessary. Once you find the perfect measurement, you can tighten up the tie-rod end nuts in the same way you loosened them. Having more toe-in will slow the machine down and make it twitchier in corners. Having more toe-out will make it very stable at high speed, but it won’t turn as precisely.