HELP Went to get an Alignment... bad news

ItsnotaGN

ItsnotaGN

G-Body Guru
May 28, 2016
562
830
93
Colorado
#11
There's a spring in those joints. If you crunch them with pliers, even NEW ones move. If you're a big *ss burly ****, you can possibly crunch them with your hands and get them to move. It's a nice little service trick these mechanics sometimes use to get you to purchase **** you don't need. Not saying this is the case, but make your own judgement before shelling out a ton of money on parts not needed. If you want to do it for peace of mind, it's your money.

You can partially rotate tie-rod ends with a little effort, but they should stay where you put them. If they flop, they're probably toast. If you can hear knocking noises as you wriggle the joints and such with nominal force, that's not very good. If you throw your weight back and forth on the tie rod ends, etc., you CAN get them to flex. I've done it with brand new ****.

58K miles doesn't mean squat. I wouldn't expect a lot of parts up front to be wore slap out, though. If the spheres and joints are worn, they will not keep good alignment. If anything's bent, obviously replace it. I've seen cars with less than 10K miles on them needing ball joints. Sometimes even new parts are defective.
I agree with some "spring" in the parts, I would be more worried about side slop. Couple years ago I redid the front end on m kid's old 98 Grand Cherokee, Rockauto sent me a balljoint that someone had put the incorrect one in the box. I bought a NAPA part instead of waiting. That joint had a different boot and look to it, the kid brought it down for an alignment a few weeks after install and the Goodyear tech had his 48" prybad all up in it telling him the joint was no good because it moved up a bit with that bar in there. He left without an alignment after they wanted to replace a new ball joint, took it to a regular alignment shop, 45 minutes later it was done and not a work about "excessive play" A second opinion might be warrented before you rip the front end down at 58 K
 
69hurstolds

69hurstolds

Royal Smart Person
Jan 2, 2006
1,377
1,803
113
#12
Using tools to pry on front end parts isn't a good indicator of parts condition JUST because they move. I think Ribbedroof mentioned that there's allowances in the DISTANCE it moves. There was a tech at Sears one time trying to tell this old woman her **** was worn because he took a pair of channel locks and could compress the tie rod ends and even offered to show her. Well, duh! How much they move is the important part.

That said, if you can compress a tie rod end with minimal hand pressure, you might want to think about replacing stuff.

As stated, in the long run, when you replace ALL your stuff under there at once, you set a great baseline on which to go with. Use good, quality parts and you won't go wrong. That way you only need to do the alignment one time instead of ball joints this week, align, then tie rods next week...align.....etc. Just a thought.
 
Gonzo1970

Gonzo1970

Master Mechanic
Supporting Member
Sep 30, 2018
259
272
43
#13
Awesome feedback, folks.. Thats why I love this place.

Much appreciated!

-Gonz
 
Daca214

Daca214

Master Mechanic
Dec 1, 2017
374
386
63
Jupiter, FL
#14
When i did my front end, I did it all at once and used the old tie-rods and a tape measure/string and eyeball to get things close, then took it right for an alginment. they proceeded to stick like 1-1/4" worth of spacers in upper arm and called it good.

seems ok, but like someone said, some of these guys dont really know these old cars and let the computer tell them what to do.

I would wait until you have the money for the alginment, then do it all yourself and bring it for the final
 
airboatgreg

airboatgreg

Royal Smart Person
Oct 2, 2016
1,433
1,320
113
#16
Pitman is a non-wear item (unless the stud got loose and wallowed out the tapered hole) .

200 miles isn't going to kill you if you get it close.

Frankly, I'd be more suspect of the upper control arm bushings (due to age) than the steering components.

At 58K, if the car was serviced with any regularity, most I would expect would be idler arm

I test steering components that have a ball stud by seeing how much movement there is when squeezed with a BIG pair of channellocks vertically.

There is a big difference between some wear and needing replacement. GM published the acceptable "service" wear in the OE chassis manual, as I recall.

There is the possibility that the shop is looking to sell parts and labor. Not an accusation, just reality.

Make sure they provide a before and after printout of the measurements. Be aware, many "alignment techs" at tire stores really have no idea of what a proper alignment is, they rely on the red or green highlights and assume if it's green, it's "in-spec", which is not the case if you don't understand the limitations of the system. Camber needs to be on the same side of positive or negative from side to side , and within 1/4 degree to prevent a pull. Same is true for caster (better not be negative!). Up to a half-degree is considered "acceptable", but not ideal. A car will pull to the most positive caster, and most negative camber. So, it is possible to have tolerance stackup that makes it pull, despite being "in spec".

Try to find a real alignment shop rather than a chain-store tire shop.

I work in the collision repair business, and have had to train techs at alignment shops (yes, even ASE certified techs) to get decent alignments. My employer bought the equipment and I did them myself the last couple of years I was at the first shop I worked in after the Goodyear we were working with lost their lease and moved across to the other side of the city.

An absolute awesome response
 
ed1948

ed1948

Royal Smart Person
Aug 6, 2016
1,219
1,406
113
Toronto
#17
All I can add is - it's true,(old) VW guys do their own alignment.

To set toe I used a laser level, rested it at 9 and 3 on the rim, aimed it forward and compared measurements 1 foot in front and 15 feet distant - the 15' measurement left and right should be 1/4" less giving just a bit of toe.
 
dirtywhiteboy

dirtywhiteboy

Master Mechanic
Jan 6, 2009
301
143
43
Dale Hollow Lake, Tn
#18
As others said, that is a lot of parts for 58K miles.

Rubber parts are what will die with age

I once replaced tie rod ends on a friends car, then took it to be aligned.
The tech put the car on the rack and "worked on it " for a few minutes.
Soon he came to tell me that my tie rod ends were too warn to do an alignment, it's going to cost $$$ extra.
When I called BS even the manager came out to "show" me the problem (actually a tiny bit of play in the R&P).
I still had the receipt and parts boxes in the car. At that point they claimed I bought poor quality/defective parts.
I was literally asked to leave and not come back. Not saying your guy is a crook, but some are. Get a second opinion for sure.
 
M

Max Headroom

Apprentice
Sep 8, 2011
94
30
18
#19
You can ruin new parts in 100 miles of driving on really bad alignment. You really should collect the parts and then save the money for the alignment and do it all at once.
It would be a shame to have to do some of it twice AND have to pay for two alignments.

Having said that check this link:

DIY Alignment
 
Clone TIE Pilot

Clone TIE Pilot

Royal Smart Person
Aug 14, 2011
1,911
530
63
Galaxy far far away
#20
As others said, that is a lot of parts for 58K miles.

Rubber parts are what will die with age

I once replaced tie rod ends on a friends car, then took it to be aligned.
The tech put the car on the rack and "worked on it " for a few minutes.
Soon he came to tell me that my tie rod ends were too warn to do an alignment, it's going to cost $$$ extra.
When I called BS even the manager came out to "show" me the problem (actually a tiny bit of play in the R&P).
I still had the receipt and parts boxes in the car. At that point they claimed I bought poor quality/defective parts.
I was literally asked to leave and not come back. Not saying your guy is a crook, but some are. Get a second opinion for sure.
My Sears was real bad about that kind of stuff too. Even tried to sell me a whole new kunckle on my truck once. Have to be carefull with "professional" mechanics.
 

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