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Old 05-10-2010, 11:04 AM   #1
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Default this is why you can't go to NTB even for a stock alignment

I usually don't make threads about this crap, but I wasted so much time with it this weekend that I thought I should let you know.

I needed a basic alignment on my 1995 daily driver. I've given NTB roughly $800 for alignments over the last 4-years, but that amounted to nothing. I went to the Lewisville NTB and this is where the fun started.

Day One:
first I'm told the left lower ball joint is bad and they need $550 to replace both of them. I went to look and the ball joint was loose...the ones with 20k miles on them with brand new-looking rubbers. The manager guy insisted that "see the bolt spinning, that needs to be replaced". I told him to tighten it and he said that "its just spinning and tightening it won't fix it." He then became huffy/puffy and told the tech to "get this car off the rack." So the tech tightened the ball joint and it was magically fixed. Then after it was aligned I heard the car fire up and leave. After about 20-minutes I looked outside, saw the car, and asked if they were ever going to tell me it was done.

Then, it got worse. I asked for the spec sheet and he would not provide it. I asked how much time I had left on my 3-year alignment for my 1991, and he said the car didn't exist in the system although I had a receipt.

Day 2:
The car is pulling right and very erratic over bumps, and steers easier left than right so I took it back. The same douche-bag insists that "its the stiff shocks making it erratic over bumps." I asked him to see the spec sheet and he told me he'd put it on the rack. So once it was loaded up on the rack I looked and sure enough the front toe was -.05 left and -.35 right. I suggested to the manager that 300% more toe on one side is probably the issue, he insisted that it was "in spec". I then got nasty and asked him if I had to call the corporate office and bitch, or if he'd adjust one wheel and never see my face in his shop again. Well, he chose the latter and I don't blame him. Now the toe is reasonable and the car goes straight, steering feels fine, and I'm happy its over.

I'm tempted to tattle on them to the BBB over the ball joint issue and general bullshit. I'm fairly certain the ball joint wasn't loose when I brought in it, I would have felt it, the exposed threads were clean, and again...I would have felt it. I also put the car on 4-jack-stands and checked every bushing and joint before dropping $80 on the alignment. I'm also a little concerned because while I waited, two other people were sold on ball joints who were doing alignments.

From now on I'm either going to 5th gear for alignments $120 but I know it will be right, or $75 to Bobby Gentry's in Denton.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:15 AM   #2
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Report them.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:16 AM   #3
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Report them.
I'm not 100% certain on the ball joint. I checked it with a pry bar, but didn't confirm tightness on the bolt which had about .5" of thread exposed. I'm certain that I would have seen that.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:18 AM   #4
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**** it, I'd report 'em. I hate shops that try to screw people over.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:32 AM   #5
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Report them.

Shops like this give the honest guys a bad name. I've worked for a guy like that douchebag (at Midas in Lubbock) and watched him fill a radiator with cold water and proceed to restart a hot motor. This was after months of watching him sell unneeded crap.

I walked out, and made sure no one I knew ever went there.

This kind of **** really pisses me off now that my uncle has his own shop. Guy works hard and is honest, only does the needed work, gives a proper diagnosis, and stands behind his work. Still has to live with the shady mechanic stigma.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:33 AM   #6
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Sounds like you might have a castor problem too.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:43 AM   #7
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Sounds like you might have a castor problem too.
Caster was 3.7 and 4.1. I can live with that in a daily driver.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:48 AM   #8
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That would **** me off for sure... That's usually why I stand around and watch while they do anything on my car at my local shop. Even when they tell me I'm not allowed in the bay. I just tell them tough ****.
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Old 05-10-2010, 12:52 PM   #9
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NTB = Tire Kingdom, who I used to work for. Any of those chain shops, if you have an issue, call the district manager. They side with the customer all the time, even when the customer is a ******** and has no idea what they're talking about.
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Old 05-10-2010, 12:58 PM   #10
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I haven't found a chain store around here that knows what the **** they're doing with alignments. I tried an NTB and a Merchant's, and gave up. We all have stories I'm sure, but I just don't feel like typing mine out and reliving them any more than necessary. None of them tried to sell me parts I didn't need, they just don't know how the **** to align a car, even to factory specs, and I got tired of the incompetence. I refuse to pay $70 and leave with a car that handles worse than before I brought it in.

I am happy to pay a SM guy up at Summit Point a little more to align and corner balance the Miata. The job gets done right the first time and we can even have an intelligent conversation in the mean time.

The Saturn that I DD, I take it to a ricer shop that's only 30 minutes away instead of 75. This shop has an AWD loaded Dyno Dynamics so naturally caters to the STI and Evo crowd, and there are usually some fairly serious cars there. So I roll up in my shitbox with the cracked windshield that's worth maybe $2K and pay $100 for a 4-wheel custom alignment. It's worth the extra $30 versus what the chain stores charge because they know what the **** they're doing.
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kotomile View Post
NTB = Tire Kingdom, who I used to work for. Any of those chain shops, if you have an issue, call the district manager. They side with the customer all the time, even when the customer is a ******** and has no idea what they're talking about.
Thanks, that wouldve come in handy last time I went to tire kingdom. IIRC I was told the same **** as Hustler, about one of the specs. I dont recall which one was exactly, but one was negative and the other was positive. When I asked the store manager what the hell? He simply repiied "is in spec because they cancel out"
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buffon01 View Post
"is in spec because they cancel out"
this can be true. "total toe" is the main concern.
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buffon01 View Post
I have the bill here are the specs:


front L/R
Caster: 3.3/4.6
Camber: -0.1/0.3
Toe: 0.15/0.10

Rear L/R
Camber: -0.9/-1.2
Toe: 0.20/0.05

Secondary angles

SAI 12.4/11.7
Included angle: 12.3/12.0
Setback: -0.1"F 0"R
track width difference -0.2"
wheel base difference -0.1"

^^ This is the spec sheet AFTER the aligment was done
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:43 PM   #14
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awful.
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:49 PM   #15
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Definitely one of the crappiest alignments I've ever seen.


Hustler. You need some toe plates foo.
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budget racer View Post
this can be true. "total toe" is the main concern.
If we're talking about the front end, your steering wheel will probably not be centered with the car pointed straight ahead, which I find quite annoying. And for the rear, just for fun, put 1/2" toe in on the left rear, and 1/2" toe out on the right rear (so you have a total toe of zero) and then tell me how it drives.

You want even numbers all around unless you are deliberately accounting for road crown, or setting up a circle track car that only needs to turn in one direction. This business of toe numbers "canceling each other out" is amateur hour horse ****.
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Old 05-10-2010, 02:21 PM   #17
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hah....not trying to argue. the shop should have manned up and made a quality alignment. and i know the difference between front and rear toe. don't try to dazzle me with your superior brain powah. i know when/if i am wrong and am willing to admit when needed. as long as total front toe is within spec....the car will not pull. period. will you want to rip the wheel off and ceter it? hell yes.
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Old 05-10-2010, 02:50 PM   #18
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Happen to remember what the camber numbers looked like? Generally, FRONT toe is not a pull issue, but a MAJOR tire wear issue. Camber on the other hand will drag you all over the road. Unequal rear toe will have about the same feel as unequal camber.

When the little light blinks green, they move on to the next item. Most alignment shops don't care about numbers. I've had to take cars to several different shops before finding a tech that cares about his job.
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Old 05-10-2010, 03:15 PM   #19
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Happen to remember what the camber numbers looked like? Generally, FRONT toe is not a pull issue, but a MAJOR tire wear issue. Camber on the other hand will drag you all over the road. Unequal rear toe will have about the same feel as unequal camber.
When toe is .300" out, it make a big difference.
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Old 05-10-2010, 03:20 PM   #20
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A decent article regarding steering pull causes-
http://www.aa1car.com/library/steerpul.htm

Most of them I remember talking about in class, but memory steer is something most schools don't talk much about. I guess they assume the people working on the cars know what they are doing and know to look for those issues?

And yes, 5/16ths is WAY out. The general recommendation for rwd vehicles is around an 1/8th toe total
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