I bought a set of tires. Installation included a free alignment check.
The cost of an alignment was substantial. I told the manager to call
me if he thought I needed one, and tell me what his check had measured.
He seemed baffled.
When I picked up the car, he said the alignment checked out, but I
should bring the car back in a few weeks in case it had gone out. I
asked why he thought it would go out shortly after a check. I didn't
get a convincing answer.
Is a free check a gimmick to sell an alignment for a car that's within
specs but not perfect? Maybe he thought I wouldn't spring for an
unnecessary alignment on top of the cost of the tires, but I might be
convinced later. How do you get a reliable check?
The chrysler dealership where I get the e-test for my 300m has some sort
of photo/optical alignment measurement system that is composed of a
large tube (maybe 6" diameter, 8 feet long) mounted high across one of
the bay door openings, and something that looks like a truck hubcap that
is clipped to each wheel of the car. And that's all that's done - I
think one wheel at a time. The system is somehow able to know if the
wheels are out of alignment without the car moving or any wheels
They do this for free - I guess they want to make some money actually
doing an alignment, but only if it's needed. The check itself (or the
equipment itself) must be cheap enough to warrant giving the check for
But yea, tire shops are trying to make some extra money by selling
For a tire retailer - Yes.
If your old tires show uneven wear patterns (not caused by under or
over-inflation) or if the car doesn't drive straight on a flat and
straight road without you needing to steer the car slightly in one
direction or another then yea, it probably needs alignment. Otherwise
My experience is that newer cars don't seem to have their wheel
alignment go out the way older cars did. I used to have a 1973 Plymouth
Satellite, and the alignment on that car would never be quite right. I
would always have to be steering one way to keep the car going straight,
and I'd never buy new tires for it because it would chew them up on the
Now, I've been driving a 92 Chevy Cavalier for the past 10 years at
least, and I've never had any problem with the wheel alignment. I
really don't know why it hasn't been a problem, but I suspect it has
something to do with the fact that cars nowadays are much lighter than
they were in the 50's, 60's and 70's and so there isn't as much wear on
the steering components. And, nowadays all the joints are permanently
lubricated whereas on older cars you had to grease those joints with
grease nipples, and they were always an ongoing problem.
I'd be suspicious of any place that offered a free check of anything
because I'd be concerned that it's just there way of finding problems to
repair. And, I agree that if the alignment is fine with the new tires,
it's not going to go out in a few weeks time.
The only time I've had an alignment check in the last 30 years was after I
replaced the tie rod ends on my F150. I eyeballed it, and took it to a tire
shop. It didn't cost much and he said I was good to go.
I got free lifetime tire rotation with my last set for my Subaru.
Alignment and rotation are important with AWD drive and if one tire goes
a replacement must be the same diameter. Shaving a new tire to do this
Now they say next time I should get an alignment and wonder what the
charge might be if it needs it or not.
About a year ago I put new tires <tars , in the south> on the front of my
truck . I noticed a month or so back that they were wearing on the inside ,
no feathering or cupping . Two weeks ago we replaced all the control arm
bushings and ball joints . Monday it goes in to the Chevy dealer for an
alignment <woulda been last Wednesday but they had a mechanic quit> . It's
quite possible that it won't need adjustment , but 65 bucks is a small price
compared to replacing tires frequently .
Prices may vary wildly , dedepending on where you are . I was quotrd a
significantly higher price down in Memphis a couple of years ago , but since
there was no odd tire wear I decided to wait ,,,
Barring a possible reason like a big old pothole. However, even then the
letting go of the steering wheel on a flat road trick is just a good
check as theirs for screening purposes. And I am much more likely to
implicitly trust the tester.. me.
?Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive,
but what they conceal is vital.?
On Saturday, July 19, 2014 9:58:08 AM UTC-4, Kurt Ullman wrote:
Agree that's a good test, but.... Roads are almost never flat, they
are crowned. So to do it, you can use a highway that has two lanes
in the same direction. If you're in the right lane and let go, it should
gently drift to the right. If you're in the left, it should gently drift
to the left. I guess if there's no traffic around, you could line the
car up at the top of the crown, in which case it should tend to stay
You can do it yourself and get pretty good results but running it on the
machine at a tire store doesn't cost much compared to a new set of tires.
They seem to have figured out car suspensions in the last 50 years and they
don't need so much tweaking. We had a '62 Rambler Classic and never could
keep all four tires going in the same direction. I guess that's when I
started mistrusting Romneys...
Several reasons alignment is not the issue it used to be. Weight is
part of it - but a bigger part is most cars today use a strut type
suspension, which is far more durable and had less moving and wearing
parts. Also, believe it or not, GENERALLY our roads are in better
condition than years ago.
That said, it is FOOLISHNESS to install expensive new tires without
having the front suspension (and the rear ) checked for condition and
alignment.. Toe in and camber can be very easily and quickly verified.
These are the 2 "wear adjustments" on the front end. KPI and caster
don't change readily, or cause tire wear.And tie rod ends and
balljoints, and control arm bushings DO still wear out. Permanently
lubricated just means the only last as long as the grease. With no
fittings, hamfisted grease-monkeys and well-meaning DIYers can no
longer blow the seals off the joints, allowing the grease to run out
and water to get in.
Years back a LOT of laces had "scrub guages" that you could drive a
car over and it would register the tire "scrub". If excessive, they
would recommend an alignment. They were very effective at predicting
excessive tire wear if it was caused by toe problems. Less effective
at determining camber problems. (and totally useless at finding caster
My local Firestone dealer gives a free alignment check. They
hand you the computer printout showing the specs for all four
wheels and what the tolerances are. At least they were doing
this free within the last couple years.
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