What can cause such horrible misalignments? - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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What can cause such horrible misalignments?

Today I will be going to Firestone for a front wheel alignment. This will be my 4th alignment this year, and thats horrible considering I didnt use the car for almost 2 months of 2009.

I dont quite understand what is going on. Im hoping that someone can point me in the right direction. Every time I get an alignment, things start off "OK" [I quote okay because its never 100% on point], but things deteriorate pretty quickly. My last alignment was at Chrysler where I paid a PRETTY penny for it. I had all 4 wheels aligned, and since then have only put on about 1600 miles [In about 3 months or so time].

As it stands right now, I sometimes feel my steering could be the cause of an accident. Let me try the best I can to explain how it feels to drive my car...

For starters, the wheel is not centered. And by that, I mean I have to hold it off to the left to get the car going straight. Heck, it isnt even close to being centered. I would say its roughly 15-20 degrees off to the left.

Even when I do hold it straight, it wobbles. Even on flat ground, without the usual curve, it can wobble occasionally. And it will also pull me to either side, depending on any hard turns or sudden lane changes I make.

In other common instances, it feels as though my wheels are not properly holding themselves in place. This is the part that makes me feel in danger. Its hard to explain, but lets say I am driving straight, and I make a right turn. Once I am doing making that turn, not only does the wheel feel firm and hard to turn, but it also doesnt make the 100% rotation on its own. You have to finish the other 30-35 degree turn to get the car centered. Once you feel it is centered, its not. It seems as if the wheels themselves stay slightly "bent" or "pointed" to the direction you turned to. A slight quick pull in the opposite direction [in this case left] will get things back to normal. The same goes when the road has some slight anomalies that can give the front wheels a bit of a bump and jump. They will go all over the place and the steering will feel VERY unstable and far from precise.

I have looked at my outer tie rods and its bushings, and they look straight. My passenger one is dead straight, and my drivers side has a slight forward angle, but it is extremely minimal.

Both outer and inner bushings were replaced recently, as well as outer tie rods. Suspension is all new, top to bottom, even sway bar links are brand new. I also have new axles down there.

I am stumped.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 03:19 AM Thread Starter
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And to add to my question, I have read that Firestone is pretty good with getting alignments done to manufacturer spec for the model year and trim of the vehicle. Taking into consideration Im riding on special suspension, special rims, and the stock size special tires, is there a difference in adjustments for either? [2000 300M vs 2002+ 300m Special]...
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 08:24 AM
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Coud it be possible that the rack itself is just bad?
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 08:31 AM
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yeah might be the rack. Im sure your tires are all messed up now too. After 4 alignments bet they are.Mine are cupped from only a month without proper alignment which is giving me vibrations. I too just rebuilt my front end and got it aligned but thats on my 1 st gen. If its all new tie rods you might consider what justsomeguy said Rack might be a bit loose throwing off you alignments
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 10:53 AM
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Do they give you a printout with the before and after specs? Caster is whats makes the steering wheel return to it's center position. They are supposed to center the steering wheel but don't always do a very good job.Tires can play a big roll in an alignment. I had one on my van that was causing a shimmy, vibration and was all over the road at times. I just had new tires, road force balance and alignment and it feels like a different van.

I'll agree check your rack but you probably have a bad tire or 2 also. Firestone offers a lifetime alignment for about $150.00. I take all my cars to Autotire they have been fantastic and they check things that other places don't.

It's possible you do have something bent but normally it would just cause to pull to one side.

Last edited by avenge; 07-22-2009 at 10:55 AM.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 11:50 AM
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Some alignment shops wont center the steering wheel, if you dont ask, or request them to do so.

Last edited by JSG; 07-22-2009 at 12:01 PM.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justsomeguy View Post
Some alignment shops wont center the steering wheel, if you dont ask, or request them to do so.
Centering the wheel is part of the alignment-at time the car can be aligned and the wheel not totally straight(you can make adjustments for that though) I agree sounds like a bad steering rack.
Tom
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 02:59 PM
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I've heard people on here first hand say that if you dont request or ask for it some shops wont do it out lazyness
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 03:18 PM
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If your steering wheel isn't centered then it was a half ass alignment, being off a little is normal. The road crown always changes so it's hardly ever centered while driving. If you mean taking off the steering wheel and adjusting it that way, there's only so many ways you can install the steering wheel it's not like you have fine adjustments.

If I'm not happy with an alignment I'll take it back as many times as needed to get it right. But you should know a little about the alignment specs and what each one does to make an argument. Being within specs doesn't mean it won't have undesirable results. Sometimes there is a wide margin for specs.

I have a lowered Avenger and I tell them where to set the specs.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avenge View Post
Caster is whats makes the steering wheel return to it's center position...
But if everything else is to spec. and no tire problems, it's the toe adjustment that makes the steering wheel off center. On our cars, caster is not adjustable (by normal means) and is almost never the cause of off-center steering wheel. If you take your hands off the steering wheel and the car goes perfectly straight down the road but the steering wheel is off center, it's likely tow adjustment.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by peva View Post
But if everything else is to spec. and no tire problems, it's the toe adjustment that makes the steering wheel off center. On our cars, caster is not adjustable (by normal means) and is almost never the cause of off-center steering wheel. If you take your hands off the steering wheel and the car goes perfectly straight down the road but the steering wheel is off center, it's likely tow adjustment.
No that's not what I meant. Caster is what makes the wheel return to the straight ahead position on it's own. Caster will make it pull if there's to much margin between sides, therefore it can off center the steering wheel. He said that it won't return to the straight ahead position that's what caster does. Steering being off center with no pull and the car continues straight is a half ass alignment they didn't center the steering wheel, with pull it's either toe, caster or tires.

That's why I asked if they give him the specs. If toe is the only adjustable item then he better check for something bent and the alignment specs should show something is out of spec.

When you think about it alignments are a big ripoff especially on cars like these where toe is the only adjustment, it only takes them about 10 minutes to adjust toe.

Last edited by avenge; 07-22-2009 at 07:14 PM.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avenge View Post
If your steering wheel isn't centered then it was a half ass alignment, being off a little is normal. The road crown always changes so it's hardly ever centered while driving. If you mean taking off the steering wheel and adjusting it that way, there's only so many ways you can install the steering wheel it's not like you have fine adjustments.

If I'm not happy with an alignment I'll take it back as many times as needed to get it right. But you should know a little about the alignment specs and what each one does to make an argument. Being within specs doesn't mean it won't have undesirable results. Sometimes there is a wide margin for specs.

I have a lowered Avenger and I tell them where to set the specs.
You cannot remove the steering wheel in these cars to correct for the wheel not being straight. The wheel is keyed so it can only go on in one positon.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 07:20 PM
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that there was from my post in these forums even paying good money they can never get things right
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 07:41 PM
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You cannot remove the steering wheel in these cars to correct for the wheel not being straight. The wheel is keyed so it can only go on in one positon.
I'm not the one that said you could.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2009, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avenge View Post
No that's not what I meant. Caster is what makes the wheel return to the straight ahead position on it's own. Caster will make it pull if there's to much margin between sides, therefore it can off center the steering wheel. He said that it won't return to the straight ahead position that's what caster does.
I think you are correct. I didn't read the OP carefully. On re-reading it, it is strange that things seem to move around a bit on the steering - the way he describes it, it's not the same from minute to minute.

Quote:
Steering being off center with no pull and the car continues straight is a half ass alignment they didn't center the steering wheel,
Agreed. That would be a toe problem.

Quote:
with pull it's either toe, caster or tires.
Toe would cause steering wheel to not be centered when car is going straight ahead with no torque on the steering wheel (i.e., no pull). But I agree on the tires or caster causing pull.

Quote:
That's why I asked if they give him the specs. If toe is the only adjustable item then he better check for something bent and the alignment specs should show something is out of spec.
Again - it's the instability that seems to be a problem. Only toe, front and rear, is adjustable on our cars.

Quote:
When you think about it alignments are a big ripoff especially on cars like these where toe is the only adjustment, it only takes them about 10 minutes to adjust toe.
Agreed. They charge the same amount whether it's 4 adjustments or 10.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 95 Intrepid Evil's View Post
...that there was from my post in these forums even paying good money they can never get things right
If you haven't already done so, you might want to get some adjustable rear lateral links to replace the two non-adjustable ones so they can bring your rear camber into spec. I also have found that if you don't let the alignment shop *know* you have added that adjustment, they leave it alone (I assume because they are reading some chart on the car that tells them it's not adjustable on the LH cars).


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