Understanding Wheel Alignment for 1990-2005 Mazda Miatas

What is Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of a vehicle's suspension, the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It's not an adjustment of the wheels or tires themselves, but rather the angles of the tires which affect how they make contact with the road. Proper alignment ensures that your tires meet the road at the right angle, your wheels are pointing straight, and your tires are centered in the wheel wells.

Three main angles are adjusted during an alignment:

  1. Camber: The inward or outward tilt of the tire when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Negative camber means the top of the tire tilts inward, positive camber means it tilts outward. Camber adjustments can improve handling but excessive camber can lead to uneven tire wear.

  2. Toe: The extent to which your tires turn inward or outward when viewed from above. Toe-in means the front of the tires are closer together than the rear of the tires. Toe-out means the front of the tires are further apart than the rear. Toe settings affect the vehicle's handling and stability.

  3. Caster: The angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side of the vehicle. Positive caster means the steering axis tilts toward the driver, which can enhance stability and steering.

Alignment for Street Cars vs. Race Cars

For 1990-2005 Mazda Miatas, alignment settings can vary significantly depending on whether the car is used for everyday street driving or competitive racing.

Street Cars:

  • Comfort and Longevity: Street cars prioritize tire longevity, comfort, and safe, predictable handling.
  • Settings: Typically, street alignments will have near-zero toe settings to reduce tire wear and improve fuel efficiency. Camber settings will be conservative, around -0.5 to -1.0 degrees, to ensure a good balance between tire wear and handling. Caster settings are usually set to manufacturer specifications to maintain stable steering and road feel.

Race Cars:

  • Performance and Handling: Race cars require alignment settings that maximize grip and handling performance, even at the expense of tire wear and comfort.
  • Settings: Racing alignments for Miatas often use more aggressive camber settings, ranging from -2.0 to -3.0 degrees or more, to keep the tires flat on the track during high-speed cornering. Toe settings might be slightly toe-out to enhance initial turn-in response. Caster settings might also be adjusted to improve high-speed stability and steering feedback.

Specific Alignment Tips for 1990-2005 Mazda Miatas

  • Daily Driver Setup: For a Miata used as a daily driver, consider a camber setting of about -0.5 degrees front and rear, zero toe, and positive caster as per the factory settings. This setup provides a good balance of tire wear, comfort, and handling.
  • Autocross/Track Day Setup: For occasional track use, increase the negative camber to around -1.5 to -2.0 degrees in the front and -1.5 degrees in the rear. Set the toe slightly out in the front (about 1/16 inch) to improve turn-in and keep the rear toe at zero. Maintain a positive caster to ensure good high-speed stability.
  • Dedicated Track Setup: For a Miata primarily used on the track, opt for even more aggressive settings: -2.5 to -3.5 degrees camber front, -2.0 to -2.5 degrees rear, slight toe-out in the front, and zero or slight toe-in at the rear. Adjust the caster to the maximum positive value that the suspension allows to improve high-speed stability and cornering performance.


Proper alignment is crucial for the performance and longevity of your 1990-2005 Mazda Miata, whether it's used for daily commuting or racing. By understanding the differences in alignment settings for street and race applications, you can optimize your Miata's handling, tire wear, and overall driving experience. At Gutentight Racing, we specialize in providing the best alignment services tailored to your driving needs. Visit us to ensure your Miata is always running at its best!

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