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2000 Chevrolet Lumina Alignment Issues

I drive a 2000 Chevrolet Lumina. The car frequently goes out of alignment. Best case scenario, I have to get an alignment done once a month. The last time I had an alignment done on it, the mechanic said one of the machine settings was not listed & they could only align two of the settings. I guess he meant two out of camber/toe/caster. Also, I was rear ended in June 2012. The car seems to have lost capability to stay in alignment. Why is this? Do I need a new suspension? Do I need to have certain parts looked at to see why the car can not stay in alignment?

Hey it’s me the original poster. Here is the alignment printout from the shop.

The caster should read 1.7 degrees and your showing 2.8-2.9 degrees.

Rear ended? Was the vehicle towed from the accident?

Tester

@blueice6102

check this out. While it shows that a caster kit is not available, it does explain all the alignment angles in some detail.

Perhaps your alignment shop could loosen the right front upper strut mount, try to get that caster within specs, then tighten everything up.
Another idea is to loosen the front cradle (if the car has one) in an effort to get that caster within specs. This is not a harebrained idea, but a method that occasionally works.

The good news is that while incorrect caster will cause a pull, it will not eat your tires like incorrect toe or camber would.
But don’t feel too bad because caster is not adjustable on many vehicles.

Tester- thanks for your reply. I don’t know whats wrong with the caster. The shop said the machine did not have the specs for it. I’m glad you were able to tell caster from my photo. I could not tell which one was which. The vehicle was not towed. There was no physical damage.

DB4690- A shop would really do all those things if I ask? It sounds very complicated.

Figures that keep changing from alignment to alignment are usually caused by worn suspension components. The most likely suspects are ball joints, tie rods, and tie rod ends.

Truth be known, a good front end technician should inspect the front end components before attempting to align it.
A hundredth of an inch wear on a tie rod or ball joint for instance may not sound like much but it’s magnified on the outer circumference of the tire.

With worn parts, one can do an alignment, back the car off of the rack, pull it right back onto the rack, and get a different set of readings entirely.

OK4450- During 2012 I put various tie rods/tie rod ends onto both sides of the car. Maybe its the ball koints? I also am reading it could be control arms, bearings, or idler or tracking arms? Sounds like I need to find a good front end tech.

@blueice6102 a competent independent alignment shop (I don’t mean Firestone, America’s tire, etc.) might have an experienced guy who knows how to adjust caster on cars that are "non-adjustable."
However, bear in mind that these “tricks” I mentioned don’t work on all cars.
Another possibility is that the right front strut or spindle is bent. But don’t run out and buy all sorts of parts based on what I just wrote.
Wherever you go, tell them that the car has needed repeated alignments, and that the car was rear ended several months ago.

@db4690 Thanks. I think a problem is that I’ve been going to Firestone and the like. I’ll have to find an independent alignment shop.

@db4690 good idea. Hopefully you’ll find someone who’s been around for awhile and knows the tricks of the trade.

thanks!

I showed my son your problem. (He’s an alignment guy) He said one thing to check are the engine/transaxle craddle mounting bushings. These rot out over time and allows the craddle to shift which can knock the caster adjustment off.

Tester

@tester thank you! I will write that suggestion down.