Author Topic: Alignment for the car - truly needed?  (Read 1865 times)

ChipmunkSavings

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Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« on: March 17, 2017, 07:11:24 AM »
Hello,

I am doing maintenance on my car and I have been suggested many services at the dealership. One of them was doing the alignment for the wheels. It was offered based on my mileage, and not on the state of the car. I have been reading up on this to determine if it is really justified. Many websites seem to say it is, but they are all from car dealerships or garages, which is a bit biased. For all of you folks who maintain your cars, do you think this is a necessary service? One website who has investigated many garages says that about 50% of them fail the test when they check whether or not they aligned the car correctly... I've been quoted around 80$ + taxes for it. Thank you!

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2017, 07:14:29 AM »
I do the unreliable "take my hands off the wheel on a straightaway" test. If it drifts, I get an alignment. If it doesn't, I don't.

I also rotate the tires on the cars every oil change, and that seems to keep our tires wearing evenly.

shawndoggy

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 07:18:59 AM »
Alignment is indicated if either (a) you are getting uneven / premature tire wear and/or (b) car is pulling with your hands off the wheel.  IMHO it's not really a "do at XX,XXX miles" maintenance procedure.  More of a "you need it when you need it" kind of thing.

marielle

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 07:24:09 AM »
Yes, and it will save you money in gas and more even tire wear.

Your alignment can be off even if the car goes straight, so it's a good idea to just get it done if it hasn't been in a while.

You can get a lifetime alignment for $150-$200. Even if you only do it twice it's worth it, but typically you want to do it twice a year or anytime you hit a pothole or something.

ChipmunkSavings

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2017, 07:29:40 AM »
Ok that's good to know! We have so many potholes on our roads here with all the freezing and defreezing.
I get a bit suspicious, because I'm a 24-year-old female with limited car knowledge, so I'm always concerned that they might be suggesting unnecessary maintenance. I'll try the 'take your hands off' test to see what it does.

marielle

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2017, 10:40:33 AM »
If it's been like 6 months to a year since you last had one I would just get a lifetime alignment somewhere. Like Firestone or Griffin Brothers. They do kinda use that to up sell you on other stuff because they know you'll be coming in a lot, so just get a second opinion if you go in for an alignment and they start adding extra services.

I don't know much either, I've learned everything I know through youtube and podcasts (which still isn't much, but enough to know if I'm getting ripped off). You don't have to do the work yourself, but know how it's done and how long it takes so you know if you're getting ripped off on the labor charge.

Chris Fix has good videos on Youtube!

GreenSheep

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2017, 10:46:01 AM »
I just read last week in the little freebie AAA magazine that in newer cars (didn't say how new is "new"), you generally don't need an alignment unless something is very off when you're driving.

Spork

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2017, 10:56:14 AM »

I have always been in the "if the tires wear okay and it drives straight, leave it" camp.

I have heard of large pot holes knocking things out of alignment, but that to me says either things were not bolted down tight enough or you've bent something.  Now, I say that while living in an area with reasonably good roads, so I may be totally full of crap.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2017, 10:58:12 AM »
I'll add that if you've done some suspension or front end work (replacing tie rods, for example), it's probably a good idea to get an alignment.   

Ocinfo

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2017, 11:28:39 AM »
Just had a 50k VW service and they asked to also do the alignment. Car had a noticeable pull that is now gone. Drives much nicer. For $80 bucks or a bit more for "lifetime" it's a relatively inexpensive measure to prolong tire life and make the ride a bit smoother.


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RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2017, 11:38:09 AM »
I have always been in the "if the tires wear okay and it drives straight, leave it" camp.

I go by this as well.  The whole reason to align the wheels is for even tire wear, so if the tires are wearing evenly, then there's no need.

The 'let go of the wheel and see if the car tracks straight' doesn't really work because most roads are cambered for rain runoff, so cars tend to pull themselves towards the edge of road.

If you have any vibration at all in the steering wheel that's not related to the road being rough, that's an indicator you should get the alignment checked.

Dave1442397

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2017, 12:11:05 PM »
I have always been in the "if the tires wear okay and it drives straight, leave it" camp.

I go by this as well.  The whole reason to align the wheels is for even tire wear, so if the tires are wearing evenly, then there's no need.

The 'let go of the wheel and see if the car tracks straight' doesn't really work because most roads are cambered for rain runoff, so cars tend to pull themselves towards the edge of road.

If you have any vibration at all in the steering wheel that's not related to the road being rough, that's an indicator you should get the alignment checked.

Same here. I've only had alignments done after suspension work or if I noticed a problem with the car's steering/tracking.

It must be at least ten years since I've had a car need an alignment, and I've never had a problem with uneven tire wear.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2017, 12:45:32 PM »
If you have any vibration at all in the steering wheel that's not related to the road being rough, that's an indicator you should get the alignment checked.

I'd start with rebalancing tires before having an alignment done.   

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Alignment for the car - truly needed?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2017, 12:48:22 PM »
If you have any vibration at all in the steering wheel that's not related to the road being rough, that's an indicator you should get the alignment checked.

I'd start with rebalancing tires before having an alignment done.

True, and that's probably a more common cause.