Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alignment bogus-ness and knowing what you are doing.

About a week ago I put new tires, shock and brakes on the truck and had the wheels aligned as well. Driving the truck, I wasn't completely sure it was tracking properly. But we have a good amount of traffic in Southern California, so I wasn't completely sure, I might have been just feeling the crown of the road. At any rate, it was easy to bring the truck back in and have them check the alignment. The report:
  • first they said the alignment was fine... but the wheel bearing were loose, particularly on one side. Well, loose wheels bearings would mess up the alignment, so I asked to see before they sold me new bearings. When we entered the garage, the mechanic was tightening the bearings, so I didn't actually need anything new. 
  • they aligned the wheels again
  • and they gave me the report showing the "change" in Toe:
    • before:  Left 0.32 deg      Right: -0.01 deg
    • after:     Left 0.14 deg       Right: 0.14 deg
Looks good now, right?

No. Look at the difference between the left and right: 0.31 degrees before. And 0.28 degrees after. That 0.03 change isn't significant. Uhm, maybe they just should have turned the steering wheel about 15 degrees? And sure enough, on the drive home I noticed the steering wheel center is off a bit. Sigh. Does anyone pay any attention to what they are actually doing? I mean, all they did is move the steering wheel with this adjustment.

There's no harm done, and I now have tight wheel bearings. And I was probably just feeling the crown in the road as the truck handled about the same on the way home. But I'll be annoyed at the steering being off center for a bit until I forget about it.

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