04 VW Beetle alignment Issue, Pulling to the Side

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$100 site donor 2024
Feb 19, 2013
Phoenix, AZ
This is going to be a little long. I need some help figuring out the alignment issues on the Beetle. This car for the last 10 years and ~160k miles has been very well maintained and has never pulled to the side or had a crooked steering wheel until now. On July 31, I took it to the dealership for the Dual Mass Flywheel to be replaced (was making lotsa noise) and for the DSG transmission to be serviced (filter and fluid). It had a torn inner drivers side CV boot and the dealer told me that while the transmission was out it would be ~$180 to replace that CV boot. I decided to buy a whole new axle (for much less than their $180 price) and they actually installed it for free, plus I now have 2 CV boots on that side. After all this service they checked the alignment (didn't charge me for it) and said it was good to go. No noise from the flywheel anymore either. I immediately called the dealer after leaving and let the service guy know it was pulling to the right and the steering wheel was pointed to the left a little bit and he said to bring it back when I can and they'll check the alignment again. I brought it back the next day and they checked it all and made some minor adjustments (lost the printout of that alignment) and sent me on my way. It was exactly the same. I then took it to Discount Tire to have the tires rotated and balanced to see if that made a difference. Nope. Now a month and half later I brought it back to them cause its still pulling. They once again did an alignment, swapped the front tires left to right (directional tires so they had to take them off the rims too) and he said it's better but that's about all they can do (didn't charge me either). Well he was right, steering wheel is now straight but it still pulls to the right although it is a tiny bit better. It isn't really really hard pulling, just annoying. I can change lanes pretty easily by letting go of the steering wheel.

This was my aunt's car that she bought new and this service advisor has been very very good to her, has always been fair and has never talked her into anything the car didn't need and has the service advisor for the last 7 years.

02/26/2013 @ 134k miles the lower control arm bushings were replaced, and so were the upper strut mounts at the dealer.

I and the dealer have checked and the bushings look great and have no play, the balljoints look great and have no play in them, and neither does the tie rods or the rack and pinion. Does anybody have any ideas as to what this could be? I mean it isn't the end of the world with how it's pulling, just trying to figure out how a car with near perfect suspension is pulling. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Below is the last alignment's printoff.
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No great answer for you, but I've had cars that with proper alignments, still had a slightly tilted wheel or a slight pull to the right. I suspect that tire selection and road characteristics may come into play here.
Do you have a brake that is dragging ? That too will cause a pull. A quick check is to check the temperature of the wheels after a drive - be careful - one may be much warmer/hotter than the others.

Also - check/lube the pivots on the anti-sway bars.
Pull the handbrake on just a little bit, just enough to slow down gradually. If the pull goes away or increases you may have discovered your problem.
Looks like enough cross camber in the rear to steer the rear to the left causing the need for driver front steering correction. If some one follows you is the rear tracking (dog walking) a couple inches offset to the right vs the front? Also drag/friction in the differential(X-axle) can cause a pull or offset engine X-axle assembly to K/X frame mounting may need to be normalized.
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Since this happened after transmission removal, and was excellent before, I would suspect subframe needs to be shifted or the strut on the right side not completely in the knuckle. Cross SAI not good.
To OP,

I just went through this with my MK4 2000 Jetta when I replaced my passenger side CV axle, lower control arms, and tie rods. I had it aligned at a reputable shop, but it came out with my steering wheel not level (i.e. 3 & 9 o'clock position) but slightly tilted to the left. My car was also pulling slightly to the right. This means that if my steering wheel was leveled, both front wheels were actually turned slightly to the right even though my toe in/out results were within range.

Your alignment printout looks fine, and so did mine. Really, there's not much to align with these MK4's but front toe. I favor a slight toe out since it's a FWD and the wheels toe in a little at acceleration due to forward wheel pull and lower control arm bushing flex.

Anyways, make sure you get your tire pressures checked first and up to spec. If that doesn't work, go back to the alignment shop and ask them to re-align it with the steering wheel LEVELED. If you notice, the steering wheel does not lock level when you remove the key. Chances are when they were adjusting toe, the steering got locked slightly off-leveled and they calibrated it from there. The rack in the steering system has to be centered with the pinion gear when adjusting toe and this means steering wheel has to be leveled.

Anyways, I didn't go back to the shop in my case and just adjusted the toe on both front wheel myself with the steering wheel leveled. Runs straight again.
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