I didn't have an alignment problem before going to the mechanic (now I'm thinking what in the world happened?) When doing the alignment both times, he claims a test drive was done before and after. What should I do? Steering wheel is still crooked.
grt_wolf 4/14/2010I would suggest taking it to a shop that does nothing but alignments or if you would like to check it yourself , you will need a tape measure and a carpenters string chalk line and two thumb tack . Use the tack to attached the end of the string to the front of the tire on the high point of the tread run the string on the outside of the tire all the way to the back of the back tire on the same side of the car use the second tack to attach the string to the highest tread . With the steering wheel straight the string should be touching all 4 sides of the two tire on that side of vehicle , front tire front side front tire rear side rear tire front side rear tire rear side , do that to both sides of vehicle , which will let you know if it is close to being aligned front to rear . checking the front alignment is alittle more differcult but with the steering wheel straight measure from the middle treadof one front tire to the other tire on the back side of the front tires and then do the same for the front of the front tires with the tape measure on the same tread . This will give you an idea if it is close to being aligned if the measurements are within a quarter inch of each other . Remember this is just a crude way of checking yourself and would suggest going to an alignment shop .
Blueconure 4/19/2010Thanks for the suggestion. I'm definitely going another shop just as you suggested. It's like you lately have to go to specialists these days.
GB07 4/19/2010Most mechanic shops simply do not have an alignment rack, so its almost impossible for them to do a wheel alignment. Ask if he actually did an alignment, and what equipment he used., and ask for a printout. He most likely wont have one, which at that point I would make sure I didnt pay for one.
As to fixing it, I agree, take it to a tire shop that does alignments. BUT make sure they are reputable. There are alot of alignment shops in my area that don't line up cars worth a crap. Most will just set the toe. This is fine if thats all it needs, but thats why you should ask for a printout of the alignment sheet, and make sure whoever you go to has the capability to give you one before you get the work done there. Done properly, an alignment should include setting toe, caster, and camber. Also when done look at the printout and see if they just put the values within spec or did they put them on center of spec. In other words, lets say spec for your toe is between 0 and 1 degree. Now lets say they put the toe at 1 degree on one side, and one degree on the other. Your toe is still one degree off of what spec is, because the ACTUAL spec is the middle of the two numbers, in this case .5 degrees, which is where your car should be when it is done being aligned, or at least as close to it as possible. You cant always get camber and castor exact, but you can get them close, and toe you can always get exactly on the money. So pay attention to printout and make sure you got a good alignment.
Also, if you think the back end is steering a little, get a 4 wheel alignment instead of just a 2 wheel.