Who does the best wheel alignments?

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1) After all the damage to my wheels, etc. I figure I should have the wheels aligned. A toyota.
Who do you think does the best job? A Toyotal dealer, Firestone, PepBoys, or a gas station with busy service bays who was recommended?
Someone I know and trust also gave a particular guy at Pep Boys a very high recommendation yesterday.
The dealer is having a sale this month, so it's the same price as Firestone
I was going to take it to the dealer, because I figured that values that are always fine on cars that only hit chuck holes etc. might be messed up on mine, given that I knocked a chunk out of my aluminum wheel. I've considered the possibility I rotated the entire hub assembly on the strut, though I can find no evidence that I did that**
But a guy I was reading on the web felt that the mechanics at dealers are all getting paid acc. to flat rate, and that they rush the job to make more money.
2) Follow=up on my car. Last Tuesday, I think it was, I finished the front and just as I was about to take it around the block for a test drive, a young neighbor says, "You know the rear tire is pointing the wrong direction!" Actually I hadn't noticed. When I took the tire off, closer to the center line than to the hub, I saw that on the right rear tire, the forward locating arm was bent, about 25 degrees!
The part is just a metal rod maybe 7/8" thick with a hole on each end.
How much does Toyota want for the part?
$159, can you believe it? Is that because prices in general have gone up, or is it because it's a foreign car? And Toyota wanted $210 to put it on. Firestone said it was a 1.1 hour job and wanted $121 to put it on. And then 80 for wheel alignment, but I'm not complaining about that.
There are at least two after-market makers of the part and Advance Auto sells one for 90 dollars. (The only way you can buy it is Ship to Home)
Before I found that, I tried www.car-part.com and it's a great page. Check it out. It has a long list of names of parts to search for, the longest list I've seen, and it has a built in interchange book, so it offers up others models and years that used the same part. (In my case, the Avalon and Lexus used the same part, for more than one year.) Many of them are graded A, B, or C, and it has the name, web address, real address, email address, and phone number, and distance from the zip code I entered, of the dealer, and added description of the part, like what color it is for a body part.
It just tells you what yards have your part, and then you call the yard, verify that it's the right part, and do all your dealings with the yard, not with car-part.com. I guess recyclers ;-) and junkyards pay to list the part, whether it sells or not, since I don't think car-part has any way to know if the part ever sells. Right?
I found 4 used part outlets not too far from me that I didnt' know about. Well one I knew about and had tried to find, but there was no sign on the road and I gave up. Now I have the address and they're on a side road. $50. He says he has 24 of them. If it rains, I'll pick it up tomorrow. If it doesn't, I still have work to do at home. So instead of $369, it will be $50 and 1 or 2 hours of my time to install,. I know I'm slow, but it's only got two bolts. I don't know how it can take more than an hour once the car is jacked up and on stands. Of course it always does take longer than I expect.
After this part is installed, I can return the car I've borrowed (Fortunately for me, my friend's wife just never drives anymore, so she has it seems no interest in getting the car back. She says, "whatever my husband says" )
All it will need is alignment.
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On 10/15/2014 12:02 AM, micky wrote:

Dealers tend to do good work, but at the highst prices.
The chain stores are a crap shoot. You my get a good guy, you may get the janitor.
We have a local tire shop that is good. Ask around and see if you can find a similar place.
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One local tire shop I've used does alignments, but does not replace parts, last time I checked. I think the same for our inspections.
Greg
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don't know about the toyota car, but I once hit a deer in Colorado going about 65mph [me, not the deer] hit the brakes enough to get the car speed down to ?? maybe 45 before impact, plus the screeching tires spooked the deer so he tried to change direction and fell under the car. Else very likely would have come up over the hood and ended up in wife's lap. Impact was LOUD! Car even lurched up going over.
The car drove a bit wonky after that, so went to several places for an alignment, One place even commented about, boy this adjustment is waaay over. No idea what he meant, but drove a bit better, but still drove wonky. Finally at a 'generic' gas station service bin I was telling the guy about the impact and how car drives wonky and won't 'hold alignment. He went over to the hood, pushed down on the right fender [impact side] went over to left fender pushed down. He then put it up on the rack and pulled a broken shock out of the right side, suggested I change both, only because HE found the true problem, I rewarded him with purchasing two shocks. He undid the chain alignment's efforts and set up the front. After that it drove just as well as before. So the WHOLE problem was that the shock had lost ALL drag. It was like not having a shock in there. Learned a lot from that experience. Just share, because *if* you hit something AND you have shocks, you may have killed one shock and can no longer be able to get the front end back to what it should be. No matter how much you work on adjustments.
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wrote:

Thanks. I don't think I would have thought of that any more than you did. So far, I've only driven it about a quarter mile at 20 MPH max.
If I get the part tomorrow, weather is supposed to be good Th. and Fr, and I hope to start test driving Thursday afternoon.
Yeah, a guy at a gas station could be just as good. I used to have a gas station that fixed my car and was in walking distance. But he made 3 mistakes over 2 years and I stopped going to him, and since then, Shell has torn it down and rebuillt it with no service bays, only a 7-11 type store.
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That was just about the speed where the front end would go into a 'swirling' pattern. Caused not by misalignment but the instability of a dead shock.

I used to have one of those 'local' mechanics. Awesome skill. He could tighten the license plate bolt and the car would run better. Sure miss being able to take it to someone with those abilities. He used to say the problem could be either mechanical, or electrical. Probably not anything else.
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On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 12:02:21 AM UTC-4, micky wrote:
If the dealer is in the same price range, that would be my first choice. Not only do they know the car, but dealers usually have the latest and best equipment.
I've pretty much stopped using my local independent foreign car shop here. Used to be they were substantially less on labor rate and parts. Now they're close to the dealer with both. At that point, I think the dealer is likely less, because they have more experience with the particular car and better diagnostic tools. I think you could wind up paying more at the independent, where they spend 3 hours figuring out something that the dealer mechanic can do in half the time.
First strategy is to stay away from either, I do a lot of work myself.
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micky wrote:

In this case I would suggest a dealer. For a couple reasons. One is that they are familiar with your make of vehicle far more than a chain store, and as such the tech may notice other damage or issues that you didn't see. Two is that some vehicles need additional parts if they do need things moved for an alignment, the dealer will likely have those on hand. Pretty much ALL techs get paid flat rate these days. So, yes they try to get things done. BUT if they know how to run the machine and pay attention it will turn out OK.
Make sure you specify a 4 wheel alignment, that damaged radius rod may have tweaked other parts in the rear as well. I would check to make sure that rim isn't bent and that nothing else was damaged.
--
Steve W.

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An alignment shop.
Ask your local kid racer where the local alignment shop is. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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wrote:

not Some tire shops like firestone or PepBoys have someone who knows alignments inside out and backwards - most do not. In my long experience in the automotive industry, a small busy shop who does LOTS of alignments is generally your best bet. The guy does alignments all day - he does them for local body shops and dealers as well as his own clients, so he gets really good at it, and the prices are usually VERY competetive.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Out here in Calgary, there is such a place called Global steering clinic.
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On Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:26:14 -0700, RobertMacy

bending the strut, having the shock fail from the impact described is a REAL long shot. Like 1 in 10,000 long shot.
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wrote:

like bending the frame but the whole car body gets bent out of shape and it needs to be pulled back to alignment on a unicoupe rack.
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On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 5:37:03 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

If it he did, it isn't all that bad. He'll just need new tires every 5000 miles and he'll have one of those cool cars that you see every once in a while where the car is pointed in one direction while traveling in a slightly different direction.
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someone mentioned a Firestone "lifetime" alignment, which sounds very interesting
if you plan on having your car, say more than 5 yrs, you might consider the above
marc
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On Thursday, October 16, 2014 11:08:49 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

My wife had brake rotors put on with a lifetime guarantee from one of those chain exhaust places I won't name.
Covered everything but parts and labor.
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On 10/17/2014 04:43 PM, TimR wrote:

So what *did* the warranty cover?
Perce
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On 10/17/2014 5:02 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Purple leprechauns, and orange unicorns?
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 12:02:21 AM UTC-4, micky wrote:

Ask locally. quality varies. If you have any friends who race, ask them. The shiniest new equipment means nothing if the tech doesn't "get it." Be st alignment I ever had was up in MI where they just had big drive on ramps and did it with trammels and levels, and my "printout" was scribbled on th e back of an envelope in pencil.
nate
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I think you're doing the right thing by learning as much as you can first. Then at least you can talk intelligently to someone and judge how qualified they are to do the work.
When I need to get a referral for some kind of work that I'm not familiar with, I generally check with the independent places that sell the type of materials that the job would call for. (Indept auto parts shop for mechanics, paint stores for painters, etc.) Then if it's something expensive or really important that they don't screw it up, I get at least 3 references from them and call each one. Takes some time, but this method has worked well for me every time.
I can think of several times that I did not check first. Like the plumber that came over drunk to work on a gas pipe. Or the tree trimmer that was careless and nearly fell out of a tree.
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