Does My 1979-1993 Mustang Need Caster Camber Plates?
One provision sorely lacking on Foxbody Mustangs is adjustability in the front end suspension. Out of the factory, Foxbody Mustangs are equipped with slotted, adjustable camber plates. When talking about camber, we are talking about the angle at which the wheel is positioned relative to the vertical axis, looking at the wheel from the front or rear. A positive camber has the top of the tire pointing out, whereas a negative camber has the top of the tire pointing in toward the vehicle.
Factory Fox Mustang Camber Plates
Despite being called “adjustable,” the stock plates are only marginally so. The lack of camber adjustability rears its ugly head when the car is lowered, be it a result of lowering springs or the stock units wearing such that the car sags. In either of these events, the stock plates do not allow enough adjustability such that there will be too much negative camber, leading to premature tire wear on the inner most edge facing the vehicle.
Furthermore, the stock plates leave zero adjustability for caster, thus making a good front end alignment difficult, if not impossible, to do, especially on lowered Mustangs. The purpose of caster is to keep the tires as vertical as possible through a turn, to better grip and traction. The solution to these woes comes in the form of aftermarket caster camber plates. These are specially designed units to replace the stock strut plates and allow a much larger degree of adjustability for camber and caster tweaking.
Aftermarket Mustang Caster Camber Plates
Aftermarket caster camber plates actually come as a set of two plates that overlap each other, as opposed to the single strut plate used from the factory. Overlaying the individual plates allows you to dial in the exact setting you want, without affecting the other. Additionally, many aftermarket plates feature higher strut mounting, which increases strut travel and prevents bottoming the strut out (good for lowered Foxes), and keeps the strut midway through its travel length for best response.
So to get back to the initial question... should you install aftermarket caster camber plates on your pony? While the idea of caster camber plates isn’t entirely exciting (doesn’t add horsepower, doesn’t shoot flames out of the exhaust, etc.) it certainly is a worthwhile modification. First off, as already discussed, it will correct the geometry problems inherent within the stock front setup. Secondly, it will help later down the road if you wish to further your suspension mods to really squeeze every bit of performance out of the front end.
Brief Note on Caster Camber Install
Install can be done at home with basic tools. In a nutshell, jack the front end up, secure it on jackstands (on the subframes), remove wheel, rotor. Place jack under the control arm (for support), then disconnect the strut. Lower the control arm a bit to get the strut out. Then simply slide off the old strut plates and place the new ones on, in accordance to their manufacturer’s instructions. After that, bolt everything back up and get the ‘Stang a real alignment!