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Car maintenance question

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by bigpern23, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    My car is out of alignment and I want to take it in tomorrow to get it fixed, but I don't know if it needs a two-wheel or four-wheel alignment. Money is tight, so it's a consideration that the two-wheel is cheaper, but if I need the four-wheel, I'd rather get it taken care of now.

    The car pulls to one side and when I reach speeds of 70-75, the steering wheel shakes, so I know I need the alignment done. I don't want to wear out my tires.

    I just don't how to tell if two or four is necessary, and I rarely trust auto shops to give me the no-bull answer.

    So I put it to you, SJ, how do I know if I need a two- or four-wheel alignment?
  2. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    Find a trustworthy mechanic on yelp and follow his/her advice. Their judgment is usually going to pay off in the long run.
  3. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    If I had a trustworthy mechanic, do you think I'd ask you yokels? :D

    I want to take care of this tomorrow. If I don't do it tomorrow, I probably won't get a chance for about a month. Just trying to see anyone knows what the difference really is and if anyone knows how to tell if I should throw the extra money at it.
  4. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    A front end alignment is what you need if it's pulling like that.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I'm with Joe.
  6. Spartan Squad

    Spartan Squad Well-Known Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  7. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Get your front end checked out first. It could be a worn-out ball joint or loose tie rod end. An honest tire place will tell you those things before they align your tires. It could also be tires out of balance -- that solved one bad shimmy I had at speed and was a lot cheaper.

    ADD: And if they tell you you need a new Pittman arm, immediately tell them to pound sand and leave. A Pittman arm is an immovable part that's part of the suspension and doesn't wear out.
  8. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I was thinking about it and was gonna say pretty much what FB just did. If the front end is out of align, it's out of align the same sitting still or doing 70. It comes from repeatedly hitting potholes at high speed or running into curbs (cough, my wife, cough, cough).

    It could be something as simple as tire pressure. Check the pressure on the front to which way it's pulling. If it's really low pressure, it's going to pull. It could be a ball joint or even worn out front end bushings. How old is the car? Every time I change oil, I grease the front end and spray the bushings (all the little rubber bits where the tie rods connect) with WD40. It keeps them from dry rotting.

    I suppose there is a way to get the rear end out of alignment, but everything is pretty solid mounted back there. If it's out of align you're probably got waaay bigger issues.
  9. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    WD40 tends to dry out rubber, so you might want to rethink that.

    Unless you have a rear-drive vehicle with a solid rear axle the rear end can be out of alignment and is adjustable.

    Football Bat is right that it could just be a balance issue, too. (However, a Pittman arm is part of the steering system and can very well need replacement. If there's play in the steering it can be the culprit, but that doesn't sound like the issue here.)

    I know you said money is tight, but a bad alignment job (or bad alignment that goes unchecked) can destroy a set of tires. I'd highly recommend finding a good shop and getting things checked out.
  10. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    Maybe WD40 does, but I've been doing it for 25 years. My current vehicle is a 2000 Ranger, and all the bushings look like new.
    I've never owned anything but rear wheel drive cars or 4WD trucks, so I guess I can't comment on what front weel drive cars' rear wheels are like.
  11. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    To determine, you need to count how many tires are on the car- two? or four?
  12. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    Focus on a two-wheel alignment. Sure, the rear wheels could be off, too - they hit potholes, curbs and such just the same. But I wouldn't bet the vehicle on it.

    Go to Firestone and asked for a front-wheel balance and alignment. If you're pretty sure you're going to keep the vehicle for at least another year, buy the lifetime alignment. The cost is typically for about two alignments, and over the course of a vehicle's lifetime with you, the combination of the peace of mind and savings will be worth every penny.

    (And an excellent reference by Spartan Squad. Still the best hour of public radio going ... )
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