Centering Steering for Alignment

Hey karting braintrust, I was wondering if anyone out there has some tips or tricks on quickly, accurately and repeatedly centering the steering in order to do an alignment. I know this isnt particularly hard to do but I find it tedious and easy to bump while adjusting tie rods, etc.

Here is what I normally do:

  1. Center the steering as best as I can by eye balling it looking down the steering column to the pitman. Then place a ruler across the top of the tierod end bolts on the pitman.

  2. Visually compare the gap under the ruler on either side compared to the torsion bar below it.

  3. I then use a strap between the fuel tank support near the floor pan, run it up through the bottom of the steering wheel and tension it down so the wheel can’t move that much.

  4. Re-check the centering via the gap between the ruler and the torsion bar again, make slight adjustments to the wheel to get it as close as I can.

This works but it takes some time, can still be bumped out of alignment and gets super annoying switching between adjusting tie rods and then checking sweep (have to undo strap, do it again, etc). I also just have a hard time with centering being reliant so much on a visual estimation but then I’m expecting to be able to set the toe within 1mm accuracy. I can get it done but I’m looking for a tips or recommendations to make this process faster and more accurate. I’ve seen some people use vice grips on the steering block. I tried that but it needed a ton of force to stop the column from rotating and marred up the plastic block. I have seen the steering blocks with a centering pin. Anyone have experience with those? I’m worried they won’t be able to raise the column high enough for me (see below).

The other thing I was curious about was checking the sweep. I’m a tall lad (6’2") and I have my steering column raised up on the very highest setting the OTK steering block goes. Because of this, when I try to check the sweep measurements the normal way with a ruler on the steering column, the laser’s lowest point actually intersects the column itself. So there isnt any way to measure the lowest point off the column reference point like everyone seems to do. I’ve thought about lowering the column down, checking sweep, setting it and then raising the column back up but that is really annoying to do with any regularity and I’m also not sure if changing the column angle impacts the sweep at all (I don’t think so but the pitman is changing angles). Tips on how to do this would be appreciated too.

Again, I can do a proper alignment it just takes a very long time and is tedious. This makes me very reluctant to play with front end alignment adjustments while at the track. Looking for ways to make the process faster and more accurate. Thanks!

Assuming the sweep is set correctly then I just use the lasers to get a visual centering. If lasers read the same on each side then your steering is centered.


This is all I do as well.

You can vise grip the steering block to hold center while adjusting.


I use this tool for lock the column in place .

That’s how I do it.

You can also get a steering column bush with a locking feature.

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This is interesting! Thanks!

Assuming your sweep is correct AND that the toe either side is the same. But if you have everything loosened up for adjustments and bump something, you can’t do this trick.

You can’t use sweep either if you are running asymmetric toe or loose tie rods though

False. You’re thinking of it redundantly.

Set sweep, at which point toe is inherently equal side to side. If your toe measurement does not equal your target measurement then adjust accordingly, and equally on both sides.

This is of course with everything loose. Upon tightening, each tie rod will toe in approximately 1mm, 95% of which occurs upon hand-tightening, which allows one to double check all measurement before final tightening.

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You’re right about asymmetric toe, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that (assuming a sprint application). See note above about loose tie rods.

I highly recommend a steering shaft block that has a center hole in it to keep the steering centered.

I like the ruler trick. I do the ruler to get centered and then the vise grips to hold them in place. I usually, then have vise grips land in my lap on the warm up lap because I forgot to take them off after setting toe.

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Here is a ruler trick for checking sweep easier - buy a plastic see thru one. Then you don’t have to walk around the kart and hope that you are holding the ruler in the same spot. Just squat and turn the wheel both directions.

I just installed the Wildkart steering support with lock rod:


Is the highest setting roughly equal to the highest setting on a standard OTK block (or the highest on whatever chassis make you installed it on)?

Can you explain it a different way, please? I’m not following.

You know how there are multiple holes you can use to bolt the block to the chassis to either raise or lower the steering column? I’m curious if the highest setting on the Wildkart block you got is similar to the highest setting on the stock block you had.

Essentially the distance from the lowest mounting hole to the steering column hole.

Hopefully that helps! These holes adjust the height of the steering column. The lowest hole results in the highest steering column setting.


First thing I do when I sit in kart is turn wheel back and forth has saved me a few times.


From my recollection, it’s about the same (Energy/Parolin), the difference being the lock bar & it’s milled aluminum instead of molded plastic.