[Rovernet] SD1 alignment settings please

ROBERT HEIMERL via Rovernet rovernet at rovernet.org
Mon May 12 12:09:44 EDT 2014

Hi Dr. McCarthy,

I've read your comments with interest over the years -- sounds like you've
had many different types of Rovers.

I've only owned SD1's (half a dozen since 1990) and will happily share
whatever information/insight I have on the subject.  A few others on this
forum are likely to chime in, as well -- although the majority seem to own

The SD1's alignment is pre-set at the factory, as it relates to caster and
camber.  Those should still be correct, unless the car's been in an
accident or has particularly worn front end components (unlikely in the
case of the well-maintained example you've described, but nonetheless worth
a close look).  Therefore the only setting that may be adjusted is the
toe-in.  Although it's difficult to find the specifications in the factory
manual, I have an Autobooks (aftermarket) Rover 3500 manual that includes
(on page 111) the following brief paragraph on this subject:  "First class
equipment (preferably optical) should be used when checking and adjusting
the toe-in which should be zero to 3.17mm (0.125 in) with the car laden or
unladen."   So any shop with standard alignment equipment should be able to
take care of this.

If there's no sign of unusual tire wear and the car tracks straight down
the road, it's unlikely you'll need/want to have anything done.  That might
be for the best, since careless technicians often fail to loosen the rubber
boots (gaiters) when doing alignment work and end up twisting them badly,
leading to the need for replacement -- which itself requires removal of the
tie rod ends (worth replacing since they're relatively inexpensive and
widely available in Britain, at least).

[It's necessary to first remove the SD1's plastic front belly pan to gain
access for inspection and any/all needed work.]

The single most common front end problem on these cars is caused by
disintegrated control arm bushings -- even on cars with low mileage.  That
will cause the steering to feel extremely loose and would certainly require
immediate attention since the struts will move around an inch or more at
the control arm itself when this occurs (there's also a small firewall
bushing that typically disintegrates, causing excess play in the steering
column -- available from UK sources).  The control arm bushings are also
available in the UK, but some care has to be taken to make sure one gets
the proper components (the best-known supplier previously sold kits that
did not fully relate to the parts required, but corrected this recently due
to complaints from owners/club members).  There are also choices involved
re: using the original-style or poly bushings -- the standard ones help
maintain the original ride quality (less harsh on bumps).

Otherwise, worn MacPherson struts can lead to excess tire wear, noises and
poor ride quality, but are much more difficult/expensive to deal with,
including overseas shipping.  The rear suspension and its (troublesome and
expensive) self-levelers are another story, but for now we're talking about
the front end.  If these cars had regular maintenance over the years it's
not all that bad, but due to the lack of available parts and service after
the SD1 was almost immediately orphaned by Rover/BL, most have been
neglected in one way or another.  It's usually a matter of playing catch-up.

Hope this info. will be of some help.  And, yes, most shops view Rover
SD1's as "some sort of alien creature," but for basic things like this they
really aren't all that different from most cars on the road these days.
 It's a matter of finding the right (generally patient) person/place to
work on it -- if you don't do it yourself, which may be the best approach.

Congratulations, hope you'll enjoy the "new" car!


Robert Heimerl
Arlington, VA

On Sun, May 11, 2014 at 5:42 PM, Tom Rymes via Rovernet <
rovernet at rovernet.org> wrote:

> Geoff,
> Great news about the car, but do know that California Stopped issuing
> black plates in the early '70s, if memory serves.
> Not really important, as the whole point of the black plates is as an
> indication that the car has been in CA it's whole life, and thus never
> exposed regularly to salt , etc., but if figured I'd throw it out there
> anyway.
> Tom
> > On May 10, 2014, at 4:39 PM, GeffMcCarthy via Rovernet <
> rovernet at rovernet.org> wrote:
> >
> > I intend to by a very fine 80 3500 from an enthusiast who maintained it
> very
> > well indeed.  It is a California "black plate" car, indicating its
> original
> > age, with  needless to say, no rust, and also  no sun wear.
> >
> > He has the manuals on a CD ROM, but I would like to check the alignment
> > before jumping in it next Friday and driving from Los Angeles to San
> Jose.in
> > Friday traffic.
> >
> > Would one of you kindly forward the alignment specifications so that I
> can
> > give them to the shop.  An SD1 is an alien creature here.
> >
> >
> >
> > AvMedSafe
> >
> > Geoffrey W. McCarthy MD MBA DipAvMed
> >
> > 677 NW Melinda Ave Portland OR USA 97210
> >
> > 503-241-8468(h) 503-799-3809 (mobile)
> >
> >
> >
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