Keeping your Mustang’s front tires firmly planted on the pavement is a key element of performance handling. Maintaining a proper tire patch aids traction, control and braking. The ability to take corners smoothly and quickly is a huge benefit of owning a Mustang with optimized suspension.
Aftermarket caster camber plates aren’t the most well-known suspension upgrade, but they’re one that provides immediate results. For a relatively easy to install, affordable part (in the $200 neighborhood) they offer an excellent return on investment (know as ROI in big league investment circles). The payoff comes in increased tire wear for lowered Mustangs.
When a Mustang is lowered more camber is added. That added camber wears out expensive tires at an accelerated rate. The increased adjustability of camber caster plates allows the front tires to remain more upright (instead of tilting) during aggressive cornering. Given that a single high performance tire can easily cost more than the camber caster plate kit, the product quickly pays for itself.
Regardless of the economic benefits, the main reason to install caster camber plates on a 1979-2004 Mustang is the improved cornering ability of the car. The plates apply most to lowered suspensions, but even if the suspension is left at stock height the plates are useful if you ever want to participate in some open track events.
Caster camber plates like the Steeda units shown in the accompanying photos replace the flexible factory upper strut mount with a premium race-quality stainless steel spherical bearing. The flexible factory strut mount gets pushed out of shape during hard cornering. That alters the car’s alignment in the middle of the corner. The net result is decreased traction/control and increased tire wear.
The spherical bearing in an aftermarket camber caster plate allows the strut to pivot and turn freely without play or deflection. Even under the hardest cornering the car’s alignment stays set.
Factory plates only permit a slight camber adjustment. The Steeda plates more than double the camber range plus they offer caster adjustment. The adjustability can be tailored to a wide range of driving conditions from road racing to drag racing to lowered street cruising.
Caster is the forward/backward tilt of the steering axis, the angle between the steering axis and the vertical plane (as viewed from the side). Positive caster is when the steering axis is tilted rearward from the top. Camber is the amount of inward or outward wheel tilt (at the top of the tire).
By using a caster camber plate increased caster can be dialed into the alignment. This helps a car track straighter. It also provides a better “on-center” steering feel. Increased caster also increases the tire’s contact patch during cornering by counteracting body roll. The caster camber plates also improve braking by keeping the tire flatter in a straight line.
Steeda offers two different style caster camber plates. They offer a 3-bolt plate with applications for ’79-’89, ’90-’93 and ’94-’04 Mustangs. By offering year specific plates they achieve a superior fit over “one size fits all” plates. Owners of ’94-’04 Mustangs have the option of using Steeda’s 7075 aluminum 4-bolt plates. The 4-bolt design spreads suspension loads evenly across the strut tower. The bearing plate is a one-piece billet steel unit.
Installing caster camber plates involves removing the stock parts and replacing them with the new, improved components. This isn’t a difficult task, but since you’re disassembling vital suspension components you need a reasonable amount of mechanical skill. Otherwise, you should have the job done by a suspension shop.
Besides adjusting camber and caster the plates also permit adjustment of the strut height. This adjustment allows the strut to move through its normal range of motion without running out of travel. Struts are usually raised on lowered cars and raised on drag cars. If a car is lowered more than 1 1/2-inches shorter struts should be installed.
The car must be realigned after installing the new plates. You can drive the car to the alignment shop if you take measurements of the stock setup before disassembly. The Steeda plates come with illustrated instructions. XM
Many Mustang owners like to participate in open track events. Adjustable caster camber plates really come into play during fast, aggressive cornering. Even stock suspension height cars benefit from the plates on track days.
This is a shot of a stock Mustang upper strut plate.
Taking a closer look at the factory upper strut mount bushing shows that it’s soft and flexible. It moves under high stress loads, which affects frontend alignment.
This is Steeda’s 7075 aluminum 4-bolt caster camber plate kit. Notice how thick the billet aluminum top plate is. Instead of a flexible upper strut bushing, the Steeda plates use race quality stainless steel spherical bearings.
Adjusting camber is a matter of loosening the four nuts. For increased camber you tilt the top of the strut inward.
This overhead shot of a camber caster plate shows the four camber adjusting slots that are perpendicular to the wheel. Nuts secure the caster adjustment. The two slots with Allen head fasteners run parallel to the wheel. They control caster.
This is a shot of the caster being adjusted. When installing camber caster plates hood clearance needs to be checked for the outer front stud. It’s very close to the hood and in some cases needs to be trimmed 1/8-inch.
This is a Steeda 3-bolt caster camber plate for ’79-’93 Mustangs. The small notch at the front of the plate means that this plate is specifically made for ’90-’93 Mustangs. Year-specific plates are superior to generic plates.
1351 NW Steeda Way
Pompano Beach, FL 33069