Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Downers Grove, Illinois
Re: With new tires...always get an alignment?
As a GENERAL rule, if your tires are wearing even and the car is not pulling to one side, you don't need an alignment with new tires and a good suspension. If you have neither one of these conditions, then it just becomes a question of perfection. My comment above assumes that people really know what good/even wear on a tire is!!
If your tires are not showing wear, here are the questions you can ask yourself in an effort to perfection: But, these questions assume you are dealing with an alignment guy that is capable of improving your alignment.
1) Is my steering wheel straight (parallel to the ground) when I am in the right lane on a 4 lane highway? You could still have a “good” alignment with this off. New cars are always parallel. If all of a sudden this changes, then you for sure have a problem. Most alignment guys don’t get this right today. Sad! Even though it is easy. A good one will always get this right.
2) Does the car pull to one side on the road above again when you are in the right lane? You can request something different than this, depending on where you drive and how you drive. But, if you don’t know what I am talking about, just use this as your guide.
3) Do I have any bad suspension parts? Or have I replaced any suspension parts since the last alignment? Fix any bad suspension parts before the alignment. A good alignment guy will not miss ANY bad parts.
4) Are there any weird noises coming out of the front of the car.
5) Do your old tires have any “sharp” edges on the rubber? Make sure you have no steel belts exposed before doing this test. Push your hand from the outer edge of the tire slowly to the inner wheel well side. Now slowly pull your hand back. If you hand is kind of being “grabbed” by the treads as you do this, there may be something wrong also, even if the threads look pretty even.
All my questions above assume that each one of the “problems” above means something to the alignment guy. AN ALIGNMENT MEANS NOTHING IF THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH YOUR SUSPENSION OR THE GUY DOING IT DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING.
I have discussed this before, but my opinion is that there are more bad alignment guys then good. Like anything else, the good guys live by a different standard then the bad or average guys. You often times find that the more expensive alignment is worth it. But, like anything else, if you know less than them, you have no way of verifying quality. Ask the guy his qualifications and any certificates he has. Then after you ask when he last calibrated his machine he will hate your guts. A guy that keeps all this up to date, will still like you. He will be glad you asked, but he will be worth more.
FYI: Invest in a tread gauge if you don’t have one. Keep track of your thread thickness on outer edge, inner edge and center. They should be the same. If your center is thinner and the outers are the same, you have too much air in your tires. The tire pressure from the manufacturer is not always right on these old cars.
67 R/S Coupe, Sierra Fawn