Front end alignment

Messages
702
Location
Midland, MI
I heard someone saying if you are buying new tires you should only get it aligned after the new tires are on your vehicle. Last time I purchased new tires I was undecided but knew I needed an alignment so I had it aligned and then put new tires on 2 weeks later. I ahve had no problems with these tires. Is there a big difference in having an alignment before/after purchasing new tires?
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
Trust me on this I know Alignments more than most people. Anytime you get a set 2-4 radials it is more than wise to have your Alignment "checked." One thing I know out of experianced is that ANY car driven X miles will eventually go out of alignment. That is a truth of life just like an oil change. In fact you car can ride perfect but the alignment can be severely out. Second, by the time Toe or Caster wear appears its too late for a pre-emptive routine alignment service. Third point, any respectable shop will always check your alignment geometries (toe,caster,thrust etc) and produce a pre-liminary printout vs. OEM. If these values deviat from the OEM specs then your alignment is necessary and they do the service. If all the specs are perfect it is NO CHARGE to have the check done. It surprises me how 90-99% people only get alignments when the purchase tires or when its absolutely necessary like a strut or tie rod replacement. The best way to keep your radials lasting there full mileage is this: A)Religious rotations, 5-6k, or in my opinion there is no such thing as excessive rotations either. B)Second every 12-15k miles have the alignment checked...or sooner if any pulling, toe or caster wear is detected. C)A respectable shop will also give the front and rear end a good shakedown as well to make sure all the suspension-steering components are okay too. One of my pet peeves to my customers is an Alignment. I hope this spiel stressed how critical an Alignment check is. It angers me how many excellent high mileage tires such as the Michelin Harmony/Agility get worn so fast due to customers not rotating or aligning there car. What a waste of good rubber due to someone being pound foolish penny-wise. A 59.99$ Alignment is cheap service for a 300-1,000$ radial purchase don't you think? So in conclusion there is no excuse to have the free Alignment check done. If it is okay and perfect to OEM spec than you have nothing to worry about $$ wise. Sears, Goodyears and most Dealers will check it for free. Good luck-
 
Messages
4,844
Location
Saskatchewan
quote:
Originally posted by Chris142: If the old tires wore evenly then there's no reason to align it. IMHO anyway
I agree. I don't know whether it makes a difference whether the alignment occurs before or after. [ October 16, 2004, 08:20 PM: Message edited by: rpn453 ]
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
quote:
Originally posted by rpn453:
quote:
Originally posted by Chris142: If the old tires wore evenly then there's no reason to align it. IMHO anyway
I agree. I don't know whether it makes a difference whether the alignment occurs before or after.

Same here. Most BITOGERs are more observent and technically savy than the average motorist. If you don't notice some uneven tire wear or something unusual about the handling or steering, there is a very real chance an alignment shop will make your alignment worse.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
there is a very real chance an alignment shop will make your alignment worse. I respectfully disagree. The going assumption is that the shop is technically profficient and bears integrity. Step I of Alignment check: Quick test Drive Step II: Vehicle on lift and tie-rods, shocks, struts, ball joints, etc checked Step III: LED heads are placed on each tire and steering turned to figure pre-adjustment values. So there is NO ADJUSTMENT made during the check. How can this ruin the vehicles alignment. The only way this would happen is if the Alignment geometries were worse after adjustment then pre-adjustment angles. I have never had a situation where a customer vehicle was worse off. Again it comes down to shop integrity, the skill level of the technician, and hwo much of a PIA the vehicle is to work with (MB, Corvettes, rusted out ones etc) Finally, the Tire manafacturers reccommend it as well. There is Zero point waiting for that .06 degrees of or so will manifest into toe wear and then having it aligned. One can have a toe problem with zero apparent wear for a few thousand miles and perfect steering. The avoid the Alignmnet idea is a grave fallacy which kills innocent tires and also cost the rubber companies big $$$ in false warranty claims. Trust me, I am at the point where i can walk down main street and just point to bad alignment...sadly on an overwhelming majority of the street driven vehicles. I am like "toe," "caster," etc...then again I have come to measure a man not by his deed but by how well he maintains his car. [Wink]
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
Bad alignments happen. Out of what must be out of dozens, I have had 3 bad ones. The first one almost killed me with a front tire blowing on my way up Pike's Peak. It was done by the Rambler Garage just before we left on vacation. No I never bought a Rambler, it was my dad's. The second was done by Belle Tire, the top shop in Detroit at that time, selling tires nationally much like the Tire Rack now. Fortunately I noticed it right away and they fixed it, no questions. The third one ruined both front tires. Again, alignment just before vacation. The insides of both front tires clear gone by the time I noticed it. It is a wonder I didn't deck the guy when he went on about how I noticed it when it wasn't off that much. In all 3 cases, it was a routine alignment to avoid problems.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
Labman, Horrible experiance to hear. I stand by my previous guide point. ..Dependent on technician skill, proficiency, experiance and integrity...and also the type of vehicle's pain in the neck factor.... Finding a good tech is half the battle. At least in my families case as a personal point we never had such a "disastrous" alignment. Not all dealers are excellent and not all Pep Boys are sinister....although I only trust them for over the counter parts sales. I always use the dealer (two specific ones) or a specific Goodyear to do all of our work. A step further I have networked between them so i am one 1st name basis with the service managers. I am confident to say I have never had a safety or customer complaint...minus a GM warrantied spark plug wire [Wink] What kind of vehicle is this? If it is a Mercedes Benz, BMW, Corvette, Porsche, etc I would take it only to the dealer. Most domestics a Sears can handle it easy. Personally I would avoid Pep Boys.
 

lobo11

Thread starter
Messages
702
Location
Midland, MI
Thanks for the advice. I am confident in my mechanics ability and integrity, he is my uncle and has always done excellent work. I called him and asked him if it mattered if it was before or after I put the new tires on and he said it didn't matter. He specializes in alignments and suspensions, and the one time I had an alignment done by a different shop I wasn't happy with the results. The new tires are on and she tracks down the road like a dream. Thanks again.
 
Messages
1,397
Location
Katy, Texas
I trust Sears a lot. I would have them work on my alignment. They worked with me when i bought tires for my mom's Avalon and I was very impressed with the service I received. My Jeep needs an alignment and that's where I'm headed.
 
Messages
121
Location
Vancouver, British Columbia
My personal opinion is that on most cars alignment shouldn't change unless: a) An adjustable part has loosened (in which case, someone did something wrong...) b) Wearing parts c) Bent or damaged parts I'm not sure I would do an actual alignment every so often as a routine, but I would definitely recommend inspecting the chassis every year to catch worn parts before they cause a problem or misalignment. This is especially true for older cars or if you drive "enthusiastically". Alignment machines (like those newer optical targeting ones... pretty spiffy) don't care about the tires, but try to make sure the car is at standard ride height when you do the alignment. Don't have 200lbs of fertilizer or something sitting in the trunk, fill up the gas tank, and wait a day or so if you do it after installing new tires (or have otherwise lifted the vehicle), since some cars take a little while to settle back down after having the springs stretched out.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
Jeep, Sears Alignment techs do tons and tons of alignments. It is thoroughly stressed by the company, Goodyear and Michelin to have the service done for any complete axel tire replacement. a) An adjustable part has loosened (in which case, someone did something wrong...) Yes and No, many of the adjusatable parts come loose simply by routine driving. Please refer to the top post wear I said any street driven care will inevitably go out of alignment at X mileage. This is the cost-benefit of independent suspension unless you want a fixed live axle and all the roughness. The adjustability of independent suspension set-ups through a simple alignment negates the rather low 60.00$ price for safety, control, fuel economy, and tire life. b) Don't have 200lbs of fertilizer or something sitting in the trunk, fill up the gas tank, and wait a day or so if you do it after installing new tires (or have otherwise lifted the vehicle), since some cars take a little while to settle back down after having the springs stretched out. Absolutely correct. All it takes is a full car weighted down with junk to throw off the caster reading to ugly levels. Make sure the tires are air-ed to spec, if they have just been mounted and balanced then its already taken care of. Good job on that point!
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
quote:
Originally posted by outrun: Jeep, Sears Alignment techs do tons and tons of alignments.
Outrun, I'm sure you're an honest guy, but Sears has earned quite a reputation from the class action lawsuits it has lost for sleazy automotive service practices http://consumeraffairs.com/news04/nj_sears.html For many more, do a Google for sears auto class action and then do it for other auto service companies that do alignment work and compare the results.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
Also keep in mind the NJ attorneys office has been unfairly houding Sears Roebuck. At least from what my Michelin friends told me it were basically started by some cheapo customers with frivilous complaints that got blown out of proportion by some zealous DA's. Repugnant and frivilous. Oh well, pass on the legal costs to the customers via the merchant raising service prices. Please again refer to the post on Integrity, Proficiency and vehicle PIA factor. The BBB is a good place to find a reference if your not too well networked auto maintenence wise. The local Sears here handles 3-million$/yr in gross sales and thousands of alignments btw.
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
quote:
Originally posted by outrun: Also keep in mind the NJ attorneys office has been unfairly houding Sears Roebuck. At least from what my Michelin friends told me it were basically started by some cheapo customers with frivilous complaints that got blown out of proportion by some zealous DA's.
NJ is only one of many states where Sears Auto Stores have been taken to task for bad business practices.
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
I once changed the struts and drove the car a few days before getting it aligned thinking it couldn't hurt much. Oops. They didn't wear much, but somehow those tires never were quite right again. If bad, I would align before or when the new tires were installed.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
Texas & BWI Area
Labman, You would be surprised how many DIY's will change there own tie-rods or ball joints and "forget" about the alignment. Then, I am sure they come in complaining that there car rides like 'fill-in-the-blank.' Meanwhile, assuming it was an amatuer job there installation has caused hardware damage. Everything has to be removed and some bracket re-drilled or new parts have to be ordered to replace the new but screwd up parts. Now regardless of the maintenence idealogy your on any time you mess with struts, ball joints, tie-rods, etc yur car has to be re-aligned. As far as Pittman Arms, Spindles etc...i am not sure. What surprises me is that in your case it caused such a pronounced and lasting effect. How long did the Strut R&R take? New ball joints and strut mounts too? Not a tech here [Wink]
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
I was working second shift then. I started in the morning. By a quarter to 3, I had it back to gather with every tool I owned scattered on the garage floor. Maybe 14 year old son cleaned up the mess. Really impressed with him. Wife and kids went on vacation a week later without me. Packed up plenty of tools for my son. With the new gas struts, my wife checked the speedometer. She was horrified to discover she was doing 80.
 
Messages
1,139
Location
USA
quote:
Alignment machines (like those newer optical targeting ones... pretty spiffy) don't care about the tires, but try to make sure the car is at standard ride height when you do the alignment. Don't have 200lbs of fertilizer or something sitting in the trunk, fill up the gas tank, and wait a day or so if you do it after installing new tires (or have otherwise lifted the vehicle), since some cars take a little while to settle back down after having the springs stretched out.
The best alignment I've had on my cars are when I am sitting in the car. Since it's driven like that 99% of the time.
 
Messages
121
Location
Vancouver, British Columbia
quote:
Originally posted by seotaji: The best alignment I've had on my cars are when I am sitting in the car. Since it's driven like that 99% of the time.
Interesting idea... maybe I should throw a few bags of fertilizer into the driver's seat next time! LOL [freaknout] I don't remember my alignment specs off the top of my head, but I don't suppose manufacturers compensate for this already, do they?
 
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