2001 Civic EX Sedan Realignment Every 4-6 Months

We have a 2001 Civic EX Sedan with approximately 74K miles (mostly city miles). We’ve brought it in for regular tire rotations about once or twice a year since we’ve owned it. Over the past 2-3 years, the mechanics have had to do a significant realignment. They are now saying we need to get the car realigned every 6 months. At first I thought that this was a scam, but we’ve now had to replace 3 tires prematurely due to uneven tire wear. I’ve reviewed the alignment sheets they printed out and it is all red before (i.e., significantly out of alignment) on almost alignment point. After the realignment, there is still one area that is red but improved.

What could be causing the constant realignment? The only thing I’ve thought of is that we need to replace our brake rotors, as they are warped. However, I don’t know if that is the cause or a symptom (or unrelated). Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.


“Mostly city miles”. Therein lies your answer.

Has the car ever been in an accident?

Hmm, now that you bring it up, yes, there were a couple of minor accidents, although one of them was a rear-end collision. While I believe it only required replacement of the rear bumper, it may been more severe (this was her car and before my wife and I were married, so I don’t have all of the details). Although the accident was many years ago, well before the alignment issues have started. We’ve had some other related work done (such as replacing the rear struts).

So assuming that the city miles and accident(s) have caused our alignment issues, what can I do to get a better fix than a realignment every 6 months?


My wild guess is that the unibody was whacked out of alignment during one of those accidents and the articulation points off of which alignment functions are no longer where they were originally made relative to one another. In short, the unibody itself is out of whack. This may or may not be able to be verified by a good body shop on an alignment table…but it won’t be free. Talk with a few and see if it can be checked and what the cost would be.

If my guess is correct, I’m afraid the only answer may be to trade the car in. Straightening a unibody is not an inexpensive experience.

It seems unlikely that three wheels would be out of alignment due to driving errors such as bumping against parking curbs too hard or going through deep potholes or hitting large bumps with the brakes heavily applied.

You might want to try a different shop as wheel alignments should hold far longer than as you describe. Even with a distorted body due to a collision, wheel alignment done correctly on all four wheels should hold. If there are loose parts that affect alignment, then your shop should recognize those and get to the root problem.

There is an inconsistency somewhere, in your car, their equipment or their ability to use it. You may need smarter alignment people who can recognize what is going on.

I appreciate the feedback. I’ve had 2 different places adjust the alignment (one a large chain tire & repair, the other a small local shop that I like for repairs but farms out the alignment). So now I’m wondering where I need to look for a smarter alignment shop. Is it basically hit-or-miss or is there something specific I should be looking for?

I think you need to find a good front end mechanic, not just an alignment technician. You may have a worn part that is not readily apparent to the alignment guy, but every time the car moves, the worn part moves and the alignment changes. Some suspects would be the upper strut mount, a tie rod or a trailing link bushing.

Warped rotors won’t cause the problem, but if you had the rotors replaced in the past, they could have had some debris that was not cleaned off the mating surface of the hub that would not only cause this condition, but feel like they are warped too.