View Full Version : Alignment problem just alignment??? Any REALLY good places to take this?

Mike Manzo
11-25-2002, 06:02 AM
Before I got my nifty tires (a nice term for expensive), I had the front end aligned. When I went in there, they said that the car still pulled to the right even though the tires were aligned.

They said this could be a hydraulic problem with the rack, but said that this should not cause uneven wear on the tires...

Well, now the inside of my tires is wearning on both front and I am wondering where to take it first.

The car pulls to the right, but it also gets pulled all over the place by ruts in the road. On a flat road, this doesnt happen, but when there is a crack, uneven part or ruts (worn into street by heavy traffic).

I have wide tires in the front and thats all I thought it was. Now that I have to take it in for an alignment or repair, I want to make sure that I dont miss anything like tie rods, etc.

On heavy turns, the front right wheel seems to be "wobbly". Not crazy, but on very hard turns, I can almost feel a slight wobble that reminds me of a bad tie rod.

Is there a really good (they have half a brain) national chain or local Illinois place to take it to diagnose the issue and point me in the right direction?

In other words, if I take it to an alignment place, will they be able to tell me if the rack is screwed up, tie rods are ****, or what. I would like to get repair work done first, then get the alignment.

If I need to get work done that needs an alignment afterwards, then I would like to go to a place that will take care of this.


11-25-2002, 06:32 AM
tell them to give you the before/after printout or written specs of the Camber Caster and Toe, if they say no just leave. You either have bad strut arm busings(lower control arm to strut arm), and possibly bad shocks if the strut arms aren't bad. The inside tire wear is due to too much camber (tires pointed in at the top)or too much toe out(front of tires pointed away from each other), its possible your car is to low(lowered) and there isnt enough adjustment in the camber to correct it, in that case running slightly higher tire pressures MIGHT help.

50% percent of the alignment is checking for worn parts, if they arent sure leave again:D

Mike Manzo
11-27-2002, 12:34 AM
Well, I have a laundry list to hand to the poor slob at this dealer and I hope they live up to their reputation.

The showroom is crowded with awards from Ford, consumer groups and all sorts of letters and newspaper ads hailing this dealership as "the ****" so, for sake of just getting it done, off to yet ANOTHER dealer it goes.

I dont know why I just dont scrap the dealer idea, but it seems that if I take it to a national chain, I am looking at college kids working on cars. If I take it to a mom/pop outfit, they cringe when the hood is open.

About the only person that didnt hate working on this car is a Porsche/Audi/Mercedes and generally all other kinds of exotic and expensive car. Too bad they are booked up and I need to get the alignment done before a long trek to Iowa on the 3rd.

I still have to get these damn performance tires off my car. I bought these things for the 93 and only for summer since Coy Miller has my 93 with brand new 16s on it, I didnt want to spring for the extra set of 16s on top of wanting to outfit both cars with nice, fat 17s.

Looks like I'm blowing some more cash on tires AGAIN. Especially since my front tires are worn to **** on the inside!! DAMN I wish I caught this sooner!

In case anyone is wondering, I will let all Illinois people know how Arlington Heights Ford does with my car...

11-27-2002, 11:02 PM
My '89 does the same thing right now. When I had the shop look at it, they told me that my bushings were shot--that is to say, they are not really there any more. Presently I have a new set of poly's to put on both front and back and will begin the process in a week or two. I'm pretty sure that will fix it as I have the utmost confidence in this shop. I'll let you know when I get them on and if it fixes the 'rut' problem on the road.

Mike Manzo
11-28-2002, 06:54 AM
Went to local Ford dealer and they said that the upper ball joints are shot and since they come with the upper control arms, the upper control arms would be replaced along with the tie rods...

The car gets shot all over the place when in those ruts and while driving I have noticed some vibration from time to time like a bad shock, but I know those are OK.

If my warranty covers the work, I will just let the dogs loose on them. If not, then I will get second opinion. I dont think that I will have a problem, but I dont know.

Then they will have to do an alignment, of course.

Did learn an interesting fact, though. About a month ago Ford upped the reman'd engine warranty to 3 / 36,000

11-28-2002, 09:57 AM
Un-even tire wear is mostly caused by toe settings, and some of it can be caused slightly due to camber settings. camber out of spec will cause a very slow impropper tire wear. Toe settings however can wear a tire out real quick. If you are getting tire wear on the inside of the tire then your tires are toed out too far. What is actually occuring is you are literally dragging the tire sideways as you are going straight down the road. Many of us run lots of negative camber and this will eventually cause tires to wear improperly but over a very long time. Negative camber will give you more toe out while turning thus giving a better contact patch on the road surface. this is why race cars run negative camber. The only real draw back to negative camber is that the steering wheel will not return to center by itself after turning. You will need to turn the wheel back manually. Now if you have bad outer tie rods this will cause your toe settings not be set properly and bad upper ball joints will cause your camber settings to go out of spec as well. This would cuase excessive tire wear. The only draw back is that your new nifty tires that are starting to wear improperly will not correct themselves. What i mean is that once a radial tire starts to wear improperly it will wear that way always. It is called a radial tire wear pattern. some people think that you can just simply put your front tires to the rear and they will just start to wear normally. This is a misnomer and it a false thinking. I would go back to the place you bought the tires and demand a new pair. They lied to you by stating that their was nothing that they could do. "THE ONLY WAY A TIRE WEAR THAT QUICK IS THE TOE SETTINGS BEING OUT OF SPEC" If they set the toe last then they are responsible even if the tie rods were bad because any reputable shop would have noticed this and indicated to you that they would not be able to properly set the alignment without the use of new tie rods. Either way they should be held responsible provided of course the vehicle was recently aligned, like within the past couple of months. Stick to your guns and don't take their $h!t. You should demand two new tires. E-mail me if you want more clarification. Oh BTW - a vehicle that pulls is caused by the caster settings being out of spec. and this causes NO IMPROPER WEAR TO TIRES WHATSOEVER.

11-28-2002, 10:15 AM
Crud I almost forgot. Sorry for the long reply but this stuff really pisses me off. Over time your coil springs sag and this causes the geometry of your suspension to change. As this occurs eventually it will be impossible to get our cars within mfg spec on the alignment angles. If you have a vehicle with over 100K on it then I would definitely rec. installing new springs. Now I know for what I am about to say many of you will send me nasty replys but I am going to say it anyway. DO not install lowering prings on your car. The vehicles suspension was not designed to sit that low and it is very difficult to have the vehicle aligned properly. Don't get me wrong it can be done by a shop that really really knows what they are doing but the problem is not many techs out there are used to dealing with aligning modded cars like that. They go the computerized alignment machine and tell it what kind of car you have and the machine kicks out the specs that the vehicel should be. Now there is one problem with this now that you have lowering springs in your car the mfg. alignment specs are no longer the correct specs. your vehicle leaves the shop and the computer thinks that the vehicle is aligned properly and it really isn't. In essence by installing lowering springs you are giving the vehicle lots of negative camber and of course a better center of gravity. people think that the biggest reason for the better handling is the car being much lower.......not the case. it is the negative camber that the vehicle now has. My recommendation is to keep the factory ride height and throw negative camber into the alignmentas right to the edge of the factory range, this will result in your desired handling and I think many of you may be surprised at the result. And this amount of negative camber will not cause your tires to wear too quickly. I hope that helps and sorry for being long winded. I just get real tourqued up when shops misinform people about suspensions.

XR7 Dave
11-28-2002, 01:01 PM
A lot of good info here, however, not all of it is entirely correct as applies to our cars.

1. True, toe is the PRIMARY cause of premature tire wear. This is fact.

2. Camber is normally the secondary cause of tire wear; however, in the case of the MN12, camber is #1. The reason for this is two-told. First, Ford specifications for camber on this car are very broad (+.25 to -1.25), and it has been found that most MN12's are toward the (-) side of tolerance. Second, the components that wear first on our cars are the ones that affect camber the most.

3. Upper ball joints (and the control arms) wear first almost 100% of the time. Worn uppers can subract an easy 0.5 to 1.0 degree from your already negetive camber setting. Tie rods rarely give trouble if the car has been maintained because they are greasable and quite hefty in comparison to the tiny upper ball joints.

4. Lowering the car will aggravate the negative camber problem.

5. Wide tires: Where to begin?

a) wider tires increase drag on the front suspension (especially a worn one) and will require a little more toe in. Set towards the positive in the spec range ( 0.0 to +.25" is spec)

b) the wider contact patch of your tire compared to stock means that the tire will be less tolerant of camber misalignment to the road. A .25" height difference inside-to-outside of a stock 7" tire may = 1.0 deg., but on a 10" wide tire the same 1.0 deg has grown to a larger difference in inside-to-outside of contact patch which dramatically increases the load on the inside edge of the tire. Have them set the camber as close to 0.0 deg as possible (high side of spec). I've yet to see an MN12 that would go to 0.0 deg, they all seem to end up negative to some extent.

Remember. You don't WANT negative camber. It is one of those "necessary evils". What you WANT is for the tire to maintain a flat contact patch with the road when cornering, which typically requires a certain amount of negative camber to compensate for tire and suspension flex under load. With a lower profile, wider, stiffer tire, you won't NEED as much negative camber to achieve the desired flat contact patch under cornering.

With a new upper ball joints, more neutral camber settings, and a little more toe in, you will find that the car no longer "darts" around over the pavement.

Regarding "pull". YES, caster can cause a "pull". It WILL also affect tire wear to a certain degree. Your countersteering is putting a side load on the tires to compensate for the suspension loading caused by the incorrect camber. It won't wear the insides of the tires, but it will shorted the overall lifespan of the tires.

*NOTE* Since Caster is EASY to set in our cars, and has plenty of adjustment range, I seriously doubt that caster is responsible for the pull you experienced. What I do question is the tires themselves. YES! Tires. In the tire industry they call it "conicity", and all tires have it to some extent. However, some tires are worse than others, and some cars are more sensitive to it than others. Our cars are VERY sensitive to tire conicity. The absolute way to determine if your tires have excessive conicity is simply to swap the tires side to side. If the car pulls the opposite way afterward, you just found the problem. No need to dismount the tires, since you are only doing this as a test, simply unbolt the wheels and swap side to side.

Hope this helps, however in the case of your tires, consider it an expensive lesson learned.....

Oh, and in the case of the upper ball joints, if they are bad, they can show you the movement. No need for a second opinion.

11-29-2002, 12:48 AM
I guess we have a difference of opinion here. Even -2.5 degrees of camber will take quite a long time time to wear out tires. I do agree that the pull could be cause of tread pattern differences. I have never really seen a car wear tires out too quickly with negative camber within reason. As I stated negative camber will cause toe out on turn thus allowing for a better contact patch(we do agree here). Yes a wider tire will be affected more by negative or positive camber however a much taller tire will be as well so i think the two would offset wouldn't it? I would think that a shorter low profile tire would show less exageration from the camber setting than a standard stock height tire. I would think that a wider tire would be less tolerant to toe settings than it would be camber settings. Difference of opinion but if i had my choice I would always allow for some negative camber for handling and be sure that the toe settings are right on the money. hey I guess that's why we have vanilla and chocolate. I love talking this stuff.

11-29-2002, 01:35 AM
lower profile tires cant take much neg camber at all, that I know:D. With the settings at the end of NEG for camber the tires dont show much wear on the insides, when going to lower profiles the inside edges were wearing out several times faster than the rest, so with those tires, the closer to 0 deg. the better, unless you like cornering;)