CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1999 GMC Suburban front-end alignent

Are the OEM spec’s for aligning this model not right?

I have had this '99 GMC Suburban aligned MANY times to correct the problem of “wandering”. This vehicle will wander either to the left or to the right very quickly – if you don’t keep constant attention and left or right pressure on the steering wheel, you will find yourself in the ditch or another lane.

This problem might be peculiar to my vehicle, VIN 3GKGC26J0XG527838.

Some people don’t know how to check for worn steering parts. Idler arm, center link and things can be changed easily.

I once had a '78 Jimmy that did the same thing. It used to drive me nuts and really went screwy in the truck lane.

After tire inspections/rotations and balancing none of that worked. Some time later someone told me he’d had a similar problem.

Some shops won’t bother doing a 4 wheel alignment unless you specify you want that.

That’s what finally fixed mine. Don’t know if that will work for you though.

You MAY have a worn steering gear box. There may be an adjustment screw on the box. (unless I’m unknowingly thinking of something else)

4 wheel alignment on this vehicle or your '78 jimmy ? ok i wanna hear this one

Eh? My post is self-explanatory.

never heard of an alignet, please explain what that is? thank you. nice though

Since I assume you were given a printout of the alignment specs, any chance of posting those for a quick look-see?
How many miles on the vehicle?

A good alignment tech should inspect suspension components, wheel bearings, etc before doing an alignment since a loose wheel bearing or worn ball joint/tie rod/tie rod end, pitman arm, drag link, etc. or even a steering shaft coupling could cause this.

i dont want to be rude but i must have missed the the part where you explained to me how the may have adjusted the rear camber and or toe on your '78 jimmy or this posters suburban.

I bought the GMC with 18,000 miles and don’t remember noticing any problems like this until about 2-1/2 yrs later at 38,000 I had front-end alignment done for the first time (for the fore mentioned problem).
I have had it re-aligned at least three times since at two different locations. Neither garage printed out a report. Each time when I asked why it did not correct the problem, I was told that it was aligned according to the specifications for that vehicle.
The last time I had it aligned – earlier this year – the tech was supposed to be their “pro” supposed inspected for all the items that would cause this.
This vehicle has two new Michelin tires on the front. The rest are Firestone tires with very good tread – since all 5 of the original Firestone tires had to be replaced due to tread separation. At present there are 67,000 miles on the vehicle.
If I must have it re-aligned, I will make sure I get a printout. I was hoping that if there is an error in the spec’s, I would be able to get the corrected spec’s before re-aligning. Thanks

There is no way I could hazard much of a guess at this point without knowing specs and condition of front end parts. Someone has to be overlooking something though.

I would not think at 67k miles the front suspension/wheel bearings would be much of a problem.
On the offchance the problem could be related to a steering coupler you might turn the key on, and lightly move the steering wheel back and forth. You should not feel any slop in it. If you do, the coupler could be at fault and could be something easily overlooked. Hope that helps anyway.

There’s your problem. The tires!

Put the F/S’s on the front and the Michelin’s on the back and the vehicle is going to do something different. (probably feel loose in the rear)

Part of the problem is mixing tires. Michelin’s are built differently than other manufacturers and from time to time, this causes a problem.

They did neither. The rear axle was not in line with the frame.

When I first got it (used) I didn’t have anyone follow me down the road during the test drive and as a result, I bought the vehicle with a ‘crab-crawling’ ability.

It wasn’t noticeable in the side mirrors and on good roads didn’t show a tendency to wander.

As soon as I got in the truck wheel ruts, it was a whole different game.

Yo, if you must tease the poster about typos, at least spell the typo correctly. Hmmm?

I have owned various 4x4 vehicles for over 20 years now and this I know about them. When aligning a 4x4, all wheels must be put into alignment together- the back and front, the front in particular you also need to have the toe-in checked as well. If they are not done together you will find your self back out of alignment very soon. Ask your repair center if they actually align 4x4 vehicles, not all repair centers do-I found that out the hard way, meaning I had an alignement done, found myself still pulling, I went back to the repair center, inquired why it was still pulling his reply was they only align the front end as thats all their machine does is for cars not 4x4, and he told me I had to have my vehicle serviced by someone who aligns 4x4- needless to say I demanded my money back of course… Also ask the mechanic what he checks when doing the alignment to make sure he is covering all the basics. You also must check tire inflation, balance and make sure your tire are not worn in one side as well as the radial bands in the tire, if they slip out of place, worn or broken this will also cause the vehicle to move in its own direction.