Alignment Specs: 1997-2004 Chevrolet Corvette – UnderhoodService

Alignment Specs: 1997-2004 Chevrolet Corvette

With different front and rear run-flat tire sizes, the 1997-2004 Corvette must be aligned every 20,000 miles or when the smallest amount of abnormal tire wear is present. If the customer does not have this service performed, even the slightest amount of extra toe, camber or caster can result in an expensive tire replacement bill. Performing an alignment on a C5 Corvette is actually easier than on most vehicles because most of the adjustments are built into the vehicle. Also, you can adjust the ride height without replacing parts. But, you need to take care and be aware of what makes the Corvette different than most vehicles.

First, technicians working on a C5 Corvette suspension need to remember that the knuckles, upper control arms and ball joints can be damaged if they are not tightened using the correct procedure. Knuckles and upper control arms are aluminum and can be damaged if a torque wrench and torque angle gauge are not used. No matter if you go too tight or too loose, if you fail to use correct tools and procedures, you could be buying the customer a knuckle and working for free to install it.

The torque spec for the ball joints is typically between 15-30 ft/lbs and torque angles are between 140º and 225º. Never guess or try to use your calibrated elbow; always look up the spec and use a torque wrench. The same procedure is also required for tie rod ends. Also, make sure the washers on the studs are in good condition and installed in the right direction. If a washer splits or fails, it could cause a catastrophic failure.

Second, technicians need to be aware that the Corvette uses thread locking compound on some suspension bolts. Make sure you clean the bolt and reapply the compound.

Last, you will not find a spare tire on a C5 Corvette. All  models came with run flat tires and TPMS systems. But, sometimes even the most safety conscious customer will not replace the run-flat tires due to the cost and harsh ride.


Before the readings are taken, take the Corvette for a test drive. Listen for any noises like clunks and bangs. While rolling, put the vehicle into neutral to listen to the wheel bearings. Due to the cornering forces the Corvette can generate, the wheel bearings can take a lot of abuse.  Heavy-duty replacement hubs and bearings are available with larger races and extra bearings.
Driving the C5 Corvette onto a drive-on lift that is not set up to handle low-slung cars can be difficult. This is one car that may make you realize the limitations of your lift; take your time.
On the lift,  inspect the general condition of the suspension. Pay special attention to the sensors and linkages for the “active damping” system on some models. The linkages can be damaged by road debris.

Ride Height
Make sure you measure the ride height before you take any readings. The Corvette does not use coil springs. Instead, it uses composite material springs mounted transversely. Bolts are mounted control arms to make the adjustment. Adjusting the ride height before an alignment can minimize adjustments for camber and caster.

1. Set the tire pressures to the pressure shown on the certification label. Refer to Label – Vehicle Certification.

2. Check the fuel level. Add additional weight if necessary to simulate a full tank.

3. Make sure the rear compartment is empty.

4. Make sure the vehicle is on a level surface.

5. Close the doors and hood.

6. All dimensions are measured vertical to the ground of the bottom of the lower ball joint and center of the lower control arm’s mounting bolt. Trim heights should be within 13 mm (0.5 inch) to be considered correct.

7. Lift the front bumper of the vehicle up about 38 mm (1.5 inches).

8. Gently remove your hands. Allow the vehicle to settle into position.

9. Repeat this jouncing operation two more times for a total of three times.

10. Measure the distance between the lowest point of the lower ball joint and the center of the front side of the lower control arm mounting bolt.

11. Push the front bumper of the vehicle down about 38 mm (1.5 inches).

12. Gently remove your hands.

13. Allow the vehicle to rise.

14. Repeat the operation for a total of three times.

15. Measure the dimensions from both the right and left side.

16. The true height dimension number is the average of the high and the low measurements.

17. When adjusting the spring adjuster bolt, J42743 must be used in order to prevent damage to the rubber shear pad on the end of the bolt. One complete turn of the spring adjuster bolt is equal to 2 mm (5/64 inch).

1. With the vehicle on a flat surface, lift upward on the rear bumper 1.5”.

2. Gently remove your hands. Allow the vehicle to settle into position.

3. Measure the distance between the lowest point of the right rear ball joint (2) and the center of the front of the forward rear lower control arm bushing mounting bolt (1)
Measure both the right and left sides of the vehicle.
The true height is the average of the high and low measurements.  

• One complete turn of the adjustment bolt is equal to 2 mm (5/64 inch).


Once the ride height is set and initial readings are taken, camber and caster adjustments might be required. If the readings exceed the specifications and adjustment range, compare the controls and look for any deformation and changes in setback. Also, look at the cross camber and caster.

Camber and caster are adjusted by cam bolts in the lower control arms of the front and rear suspension. The bolts have a torque specification of 125 ft/lbs.

If the driver wants more negative camber because they think they are a racecar driver, it is possible. Adding or subtracting shims will change the negative and positive camber and caster settings. Make sure to use an equal thickness of shims on both sides of each individual upper control arm leg. Make sure to check the clearance between the upper control arm and the shock absorber in full rebound, if the shims are removed from the upper control arm.

Overall, the biggest problem in aligning a C5 Corvette is the owner in some cases. I hate to stereotype Corvette owners, but some the owners are suckers for some of the worse “bolt-on” modifications and advice ever created. But, they are also some of the best informed and enthusiastic  customers in the world.

Make sure you ask the customer what they expect from the alignment. Some owners may come in with alignment specs from an internet forum that is radically different from stock specifications or a set of offset bolts for the upper control arms. Talk to them to find out how they use the car and explain how a part or procedure can negatively and positively impact performance.

You May Also Like

Nearly 5,000 To Participate In Auto Value, Bumper To Bumper ‘Festive Walk’ To AAPEX 2018

On Thursday, Nov. 1, nearly 5,000 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper automotive professionals wearing matching yellow shirts will begin their “festive walk” from the Mirage hotel to AAPEX 2018 at the Sands Expo, temporarily shutting down the busy Las Vegas Boulevard along the way.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, nearly 5,000 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper automotive professionals wearing matching yellow shirts will begin their “festive walk” from the Mirage hotel to AAPEX 2018 at the Sands Expo, temporarily shutting down the busy Las Vegas Boulevard along the way.

The group is scheduled to depart at approximately 8:30 a.m. (PDT) and start arriving at AAPEX for their day-long visit around 9 a.m. The group will include parts store operators, shop owners, technicians and service writers who are part of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance. Las Vegas showgirls and a marching band will join in the festivities as the group makes its way to AAPEX.

Drive Belt Checklist: What Are You Missing?

You might have only one chance to sell a customer a new serpentine belt. With belts lasting roughly 90,000 miles, proper inspection at the time of failure is critical not only for selling the belt, but also for ensuring add-on sales and better customer satisfaction.

3 Reasons To Replace Cabin Air Filters In Winter

Often driven by an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, most consumers don’t think about purchasing cabin air filters. That’s why educating consumers on the benefits of cabin air filters can be a shop’s best sales pitch for selling these maintenance add-ons.

VIDEO: Using Airflow To Sell Cabin Air Filters

Andrew Markel introduces an inexpensive tool that can assist in selling cabin air filter replacements. Sponsored by Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper.

Air Conditioning Odor Causes

Air conditioning odors typically result from the uncontrolled growth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the evaporator. Research by independent laboratories has found fungi such as Aspergillus, Cladesporium, Penicillium and others growing on cooling coils and other A/C system areas.

ac air conditioning smells featured

Other Posts

Dorman Launches 300+ New Products In November

Among the new products is an OE FIX climate control module designed to fit 1.7M Chevrolet Express & GMC Savana vehicles.

Curing Springtime Air Conditioning Smells

Air conditioning scents can come from a host of things.

Steer Into the Future with Delphi Technologies by Your Side

Your vehicle’s steering and suspension is what not only ensures a smooth ride, but also its handling and safety. With over 98% vehicle coverage and trusted by over 26 major global OEMs, Delphi Technologies’ 8,000+ steering and suspension products are intelligence in engineering at its finest. Premium parts without the premium price tagAt Delphi Technologies,

Steering Systems Have Changed – Do Customers Care?

Power steering systems aren’t the same old same old. This video is presented by The Group Training Academy.