Wheel Alignment and other car service complaints?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Luc, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. Luc

    Luc Stunt Coordinator

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    So a wheel alignment cost $140 and suppose to keep my $40/tire from wearing down? I've always been skeptical of this service since I rotate my tires. I keep on wondering that there got to be more. What's the story. The cost don't add up and the service guy always have an attitude when I reject this options like I'm going to kill my care or something.

    Another service that I will never do again is the $90 for cleaning the fuel injection. Boy do I feel dumb since my car is only 2 yrs old. I really got suckered into that one.

    I hate car service. You never really know whether it's worth the money to do this or that. $400 for 30K tuneup at the dealer is also a killer since when I look at the list of things they do, it's practically nothing.
     
  2. Bob-N

    Bob-N Supporting Actor

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    Ewww, alignments...bad experience. On my first car, the shop forgot to tighten the adjustment bolts. It wasn't until I changed my tires the second time when my dealership doing the 60k inspection/brake job saw the loose bolts. The alignment was never the same again as well as my steering wheel was always off center.

    Other than that, I've been pretty lucky on my last two cars. My last car (given to the mother in law), the auto tranny blew about two months later. Fortunately for all of us, it was still covered under warranty in the fourth year. I was sweating as I thought the warranty was only the typical 3/36k.

    So far, nothing major with my current 2 yr old car. Just a faulty window regulator that was replaced under warranty last month.

    Bob
     
  3. James Lehtinen

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    It is all about were you take your car to have the work done. I installed my front and rear camber kits this summer and needed to have the alignment done. My 4 wheel alignment was only $49. The shop does quality work and they will be getting my business again.
    I got the referral from my local performance shop rather than a dealer or what have you. You just need to look around and you'll find the right place. [​IMG]
    j.
     
  4. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Wheel alignment is not just about tire wear. It's about the handling characteristic of the car. If not periodically done, you can end up with a car that pulls, and handles precariously in quick-reaction situations. Never mind, that no one likes a car that pulls one way or the other all the time.
    IMO, it's important to periodically have done. Most shops here charge no more than $59 to get it done. Get a printout of the finished alignment, and make sure it's within specs. If the steering wheel is off, make them fix it. If they tell you that your 4-year-old car needs $600 of parts to make it right, call bull**** and make them PROVE it to you.
    Preventive maintenance is important, but I COMPLETELY understand about the service department that over-sells services. They really do prey on the ignorant.
    What type of car do you drive that your tires cost $40? Yugo?[​IMG]
     
  5. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    The timing on this thread is incredible! Tuesday, I put my 2000 Celica in the local speed-shop to have coil-overs put on. (Dropped the front 2" and the back 2.25".) Since my appointment was late in the day, I couldn't get the alignment done until the next morning.

    So the next day I take it to the Toyota dealership to have the 4-wheel alignment done. Took about an hour and a half and cost $79. Can't complain.

    As I was driving to work after leaving the Toyota dealership that afternoon, the rear passenger side began to squeek very loudly everytime the spring would compress or the body shift a little. After I got to work, I looked under the car, but couldn't see what was causing it. I could press down on the body, causing the spring to compress and it would squeek. After work, I made my way home, squeeking the whole way. I would have taken it directly back, but I was already about 20 miles from the dealer when it began to really squeek and I didn't want to be late for work.

    I get up this morning and call the Toyota dealership to speak with the service manager and explain very politely that after the alignment, my rear passanger side squeeks constantly. He insists that it simply cannot be anything they did during the alignment to cause the squeek (even though it began squeeking AFTER the alignment), but agreed to let me take it in tomorrow morning to have his alignment tech look at it. After I got off the phone with the manager, I called the shop where I had the springs put on and spoke to the tech who installed them. (I've known this guy for about 10 years and completely trust his work as he's done many mods as well as stereo work to my cars over the years with no problems whatsoever.) The tech told me that after I leave Toyota, if they cannot find the problem, he would be glad to put my car up on the rack and find whatever is causing it - no charge.

    I'm hoping it's only a bushing that's misplaced or something simple like that...
     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    SF Bay area may be different, but here in Fresno one can usually get a decent 4 wheel alignment done for much less than $140.

    If the car handles well as in doesn't pull to one side drastically (slight drift to the lower side of the road is normal), and doesn't have any abnormal tire wear the alignment is probably ok.

    In my experience most poor handling problems are as likely to be related to loose/worn parts, especially worn-out shocks as poor alignment.

    If you hit a really severe pothole or accidentally jump a curb and feel the suspension bottom out, it might be a good idea to get the alignment checked as a precaution.

    Fuel injection cleaning should not be necessary as long as you use a good brand of gas with detergent additives and not the offbrand dishwater you get at the local stop/rob. An occasional bottle of Techron dumped into the gas tank before a long trip can be just as effective.

    Your owner's manual or warranty guidebook contains a service schedule. This is the manufacturer's recommendation as to what needs to be done when in order to keep the car in good shape.

    There are always 2 schedules, one for "normal" driving and one for "severe service" or words to that effect.

    "normal driving" can be defined as few or no short trips of less than 5 or 10 miles, especially in cold weather, no trailer towing, no dirt roads, little stop/go driving.

    In reality the only folks who really qualify as "normal" drivers are folks who commute 10 or more non-stop miles to work, Don't make many short grocery-getting trips, etc.

    The vast majority of drivers actually do qualify for the severe schedule and should use it, especially with regard to more frequent oil changes.

    The typical dealership "30,000 mile service" includes more than even the severe schedule calls for, and the cost is further inflated because the vast majority dump in all kinds of unnecessary additives when they do the service.

    Better to make a list of what the mfg. requires under the severe schedule and ask how much to do just those items and without any additives.

    If you live in an area with special circumstances such as extremely hot or cold weather conditions, you should have some things done more often than the mfg. recommends.

    For example we have temps over 100 degrees here from June until October and recommend auto trans flushes on an annual basis due to the extreme heat and stop/go driving conditions. This is about twice as often as the factory recommends (Toyota, btw), but we send out coupons to get it done for under $100 and it's cheap insurance on a $3000 tranny.

    Another way to save is to do as much of the easy stuff yourself as possible. If you can't do this, consider taking a basic course in auto repair/maintenance at a community college or adult education facility. Many of these are geared specifically toward car owners who want to have a basic idea of how things work so they don't get ripped off, and should not be intimidating to even those who consider themselves not mechanically inclined.
     
  7. James Lehtinen

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  8. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Alternative transportation is a great way to save $$ from severe driving. I know that when I did drive to work, it was always hell on the car. It was a 10 mile commute but almost all of it was stop and go through traffic and red lights.
    I am currrently replacing alot of my drivetrain on my commuter bike, chainrings, cassette, chain, der. pulleys. Most certainly cheaper than one in a car. [​IMG]
    Car-wise, I'm basically on a learn by trial method, since it's not my primary transportation, I can be patient with my car stuff. I need to flush my radiator and replace all the fluids on my car soon. I've never done that before but I've done my research on the net and I figure if I run into something odd, I can ask around and get more info as I don't need it to get to work. I've learned to do the usual mainainance like oil changes and I've done my brake pads before.
    Jay
     
  9. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

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    I've always been skeptical of this service since I rotate my tires. I keep on wondering that there got to be more.

    Rotating your tires just evens out the wear caused by a bad alignment.

    Making certain the wheels are aligned properly in the first place gets rid of unnecessary wear and tear caused by the tires not being aimed properly and thus having parts of them rub rather than roll.

    Pretend these are your tires all nicely aimed straight ahead and parallel to each other:

    ||
    ||

    If you had a bad alignment, you would have a tire (or more than one) slightly off:

    |
    ||

    That slight misalignment will put unneeded stresses on that wheel and others and cause the tire to wear down much more quickly. Rotating just replaces one tire to be worn down with another. Getting them aligned maximizes the life of the tire and generally helps reduce vibration and pull that makes driving harder.
     
  10. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    I think most peopel under-rate the importance of car maintaince. most people feel that if "it ain't broke, don't fix it". But there is so much goin on in a car that you can't see if it is broke. Think about an engine for a second. There are between 10 and 100 violent explosions and parts moving within the engine every second. It doesn't take much to cause a problem. Good car maintaince will keep a car running a lot longer. Just look at how many old BMWs and Mercedes you see running perfectly. That is because they require 15k tune-ups

    I personally just spent $30k on a new car last year, and I am going to make sure it lasts a long time. After the 15k service where they aligned the tires, ran injector cleaner etc. I noticed n improvement in the handeling and performance. (And I do know because I visit redline frequently) The car still feels like new and I am going to keep it that way.
     
  11. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Well I took my Celica to the Toyota dealership this morning. They put it up on the rack and found where the right rear spring had somehow managed to get knocked a bit off center and was rubbing against the chassis cup it should sit it. They claimed no responsibility, so I took it to the speed shop where the tech took the wheel off and put the spring back in place in about 15 minutes - no charge. He figured the Toyota place had put the car on a lift when they changed my oil (after the alignment) and the spring had dropped out of the top cup (since the coil-overs are several inches shorter than the factory springs). Anyways, all is well and good now. Most importantly, no more squeek. [​IMG]
     
  12. Steve Russell

    Steve Russell Stunt Coordinator

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    Take your car to a frame/alignment only shop for quality alignments. This is not something I would trust to the do everything/but specialize in nothing type shops. Not only will a bad alignment eat up a $400+ set of tires in short order it can also be dangerous. An alignment should be done every time the tires are replaced. I would also recommend having it checked at least every other year. A good shop will not try to sell you something you don't need.
     
  13. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    some shops are very good at allignments, but mostly my car has come back worse off than before [​IMG]
     
  14. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    nah, just got back from MSP and not tired.

    BTW never take your ride to tires plus, I made the mistake of letting them do an alignment and they TOTALLY hosed it up.
     
  15. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    it doesn't cost much to do a home alignment.
     
  16. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Ok, Josh, I'm taking the bait. How do you do a home alignment?
     

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