Thank you very much for the info. Wow, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Sure sounds like it would be impossible to do a standard tire rotation. How could this be!? Drifting could be real safety issue. Good ammo for my pocket when it comes time to have Toyota “make it right”.
Thanks George, I am going to try swapping both rears to front (per previous poster recommendation). I know about crown and even tested this in parking lot that was not crowned and got the same behavior. Pretty sure tires are the issue - there is a pre-delivery service bulletin that talks about making sure tires are not moved from original mounting locations due to pull or drifting issues (tires are in matched sets) - wouldn’t make sense to me that post-delivery would be any different since tires would eventually wear specific to each tire’s mounting location and in my mind rotation would only exaggerate any pull problems. Weird that a bulletin exists for this.
Db, again, I agree with you. That’s why when I posted mention of the TSB, I included an admonition in that regard…
For all the bulletins that have not applied to my situation I still read them because I have numerous occasions where they have saved me time, money, and hair (when I was ready to pull it). They sometimes point out things that aren’t obvious and would take quite a bit of trail and error diagnosing. I subscribe to “work smart, not hard,” whenever possible.
Db, I value your professional mechanic’s opinion more than mine. What do you make of this tire/wheel TSB for 2017 Toyota vehicles? How/why would tire placement and direction be important enough to keep vehicles from possibly pulling/drifting before they are purchased or put into service, but NOT afterwards (my implication)?
A couple of thoughts:
It sounds like the rear tires may be the source of the problem
- BUT -
Swapping the tires side to side indicated the problem was only partially the tires. I wonder if there was anything adjusted in the first alignment and if so, what! The reason this is important is that the rear tires (now the fronts) could have developed a wear problem that manifested itself as a pull when moved to the front - and that might not be something covered by the warranty.
The TSB: The NHTSA summary doesn’t make sense. If someone has access to the whole bulletin could they PM me or email it to be at my website? Barry@barrystiretech.com
What doesn’t make sense is that tires are routinely matched by the OEM’s - except that even swapping the tires in any random location should not produce a pull. The only reason it might even be mentioning keeping tires in the original location is to prevent truly clueless people from screwing up directional tires and staggered fitments. I would certainly suggest the OP NOT bring this up to the dealer as it may make him look foolish - at least until we have a clearer picture as to what the TSB says (I have read some truly face palming TSB’s, and I wonder if this is one of them.)
Unfortunately, I literally have no opinion about that tsb you mentioned, because we don’t have access to that website at work
I sent a link via Car Talk message. Hope it works. Computers aren’t my thing.
Forget about the bulletin, it doesn’t apply to you or your vehicles condition. The bulletin advises the technicians to keep the tires in the preferred position when replacing wheels or exchanging wheels from one vehicle to another while in new car inventory.
During the assembly process care has been taken to match the rolling resistance in the tires and Toyota wants the tires to remain in the original position before the sale so the buyer has the best driving experience possible.
This doesn’t mean the tires can’t be rotated 5,000 miles later, when rotating front to back the tire pairs are still matched. When you replace these tires the replacements will be installed at random, you won’t get select placement like the factory assembly method.
Return to the dealer are state that the steering wheel is off-center, this is a simple adjustment.
That bulletin is issued every year, here is an older copy of the bulletin;
First, thanks to Common_sense_answer for PM’ing me a copy of the TSB.
And Nevada_545 is right. The TSB says nothing of value relative to this discussion. However, even he gets a few things a bit wrong in his explanation.
What the TSB says is that when changing wheels, keep the tires in the original location. This makes sense in light of the “change one thing at a time” rule. Swapping tires around when the only change is wheels could lead to false conclusions. The TSB says nothing about tire rotations or wear or anything that would affect a pull.
Why the TSB brought up tire matching is a mystery as it doesn’t apply to pulls - EVER. (If you want, I can explain what vehicle manufacturers do about tire matching, but fair warning: It’s going to be complicated and long and most folks will be bored a couple of paragraphs in.)
The order of “repairs” was:
5K service (oil + tire rotation) = fine
10K service (oil + tire rotation) = fine for about 1000m, then consistent mild pull to right; must keep steering wheel pressure to left. While driving, centering wheel produced obvious pull to right (not road crown related).
Week ago Saturday, 1st Alignment (no report, but papwerwork indicated “toe was off - adjusted” - steering wheel could not be centered without extreme pull to right. So worse. Pull was more extreme obvious when letting go of wheel or trying to center.
Last Tuesday, 2nd Alignment (report indicating everything green, but still pulls to right, steeringwheel still not centrable without pull, but pull not as extreme) - overall feel is better but still not right. Not ‘fighting’ the pull while driving as much . As an FYI, the “before” report indicated toe for FR was out (red) .10 degrees. There was another steering angle that was slightly off (red) - I don’t have report in front of me as typing. I will take a pic and post it. It wasn’t thrust angle (green both before and after) but something like that (a non-wheel specific measurement).
Swapped tires on Friday (FR->FL, FL->FR) - this has almost ‘fixed’ the problem!
There is still “something” that’s not quite right, but I’m thinking this may be me not being used to the car pulling left or because of tire “x” defect (still not sure if front or rear is the culprit).
If it is pulling left, it’s not as bad as it ever was pulling to right (so left pull is even less than when I first noticed the initial mild pull to right problem around 11K)
I took it on the freeway this morning to work. In a straight-away in the #3 lane (middle) I was going 70mph and let go of the wheel for a few seconds - I did not notice any extreme pull in either direction. Before it was very obvious. I’d say it now pulls to left (ever so slightly) since I remember rolling over the turtles on that side at the end of my test.
I have not swapped the front and rear tires yet. I was going to drive it a bit more and do that towards the end of the week.
I drive about 300m a week and figured I’d let the tires “settle in” before changing anything - to eliminate false positives.
While I could agree that this might be a centering of the wheel problem, I find it odd that when I swapped FR and FL wheels it’s now almost perfect (there’s still something ‘not right’ but can’t put finger on it yet) - waiting a few days to let the tires "settle in’ in this configuration.
Because I’m not knowledgeable about tires and alignment, would the fact that swapping front wheels side to side still indicate the steering wheel is not centered? So maybe the act of swapping wheels just does something to makes it "feel’ more correct even though it’s not?
Appreciate your info about the TSB. Makes sense.
I think there is something missing - and I think it occurred between the 2nd rotation and 1,000 miles later. A pull doesn’t just suddenly develop without an equally sudden event. I’m thinking a tire replacement, or pot hole damage - something like that.
I am also puzzled as to why the 2nd alignment showed the toe out of spec. The only way this makes sense is if the steering wheel wasn’t centered the first time the alignment was done.
I am further puzzled why swapping the front tires left to right didn’t reverse the pull (more or less). The fact that the pull more or less disappeared means one of two things: Either the OP is incredibly sensitive to the pull and what is happening is being influenced by the road crown, or there is still an alignment problem (along with some sort of tire problem that suddenly appeared - and that doesn’t make sense!)
So there you have it. I’m stuck and can’t go further without getting some more info on the subject.
Based on what you said, could I perhaps have a bad or incorrectly aligned strut?
I don’t remember anything happening that could cause an alignment problem. I may have bumped a curb here or there a few times while parallel parking but nothing major and not at high speed or anything like that.
Obviously there are potholes everywhere and where I work they are tearing things up quite a bit. I avoid the torn up areas and have not hit any potholes that were huge or deep or at high speed - and I always avoid anything on the road that is safely avoidable.
The only thing that happened that could be considered “damage” was hitting a few orange cones on the freeway (while slowing down) - highway patrol had closed the right lane where I exit and marked it poorly (I drive at 5am so dark) and was forced to move to the left - but couldn’t due to car next to me - so as I slowed down (abruptly - ABS works!) I tagged a few rubber cones. There’s not even any paint damage from this and I didn’t run over any cones just bumped them.
Before the 1st alignment was done, a few times I noticed that when accelerating on freeway to pass another car, if I punched it, I had to compensate by holding wheel more to left than usual and I could feel extra "tug’ to right (during the acceleration). I thought this might have been torque steer but discounted it because that would indicate problems with the transmission / drivetrain and I don’t hear or feel any problems with transmission. Ride is quiet, smooth, no knocking noises, or slipping or RPM runup, etc
After 2nd alignment I haven’t noticed it (I can’t say it was present between 1st and second alignment). I will pay attention on the ride home today and see if I can detect it.
I’m not overly sensitive about wheel position - and I am well aware of road crown, etc - we also have a 2016 Rav4 and it’s just fine (same roads and freeway drive this weekend proved it) - put the wheel in the center and no issues with any pull that isn’t related to crown - obviously on crowned road it will pull to one side - I get that. There is no “fighting” to keep the Rav4 straight while driving. Since swapping the front wheels, the camry doesn’t fight anymore either but something still “off” - but not like it was. I think it may pull to left now (but not in the same amount as it did to the right - but maybe this is because of road crown and I expect they crown so that the right is more sloped (for drainage) - so maybe a bad tire would just pull less to the left?
When the original issue came up I had my wife drive it and she said the camry is pulling to right (but only a little, she said it didn’t bother her, but she could tell). After 1st alignment she test drove and said it was much worse than before it was aligned. she has not driven it since second align/swap.
My suspicion about 1st alignment: that they did not put it on the machine (hence no report), and the guy manually adjusted the right tie rod the wrong way. This could make sense since it had a more distinctive pull to the right afterward and would also explain why the 2nd alignment report showed toe-out on the “before” settings.
One of the posters here said same thing happened to him with Sears (back in the 70’s) - when Sears wouldn’t fix, he took it to a place he found through a mechanic, and they found the toe was set in the opposite direction of what it should have been.
So it would not surprise me that the tech just “winged it” because they were busy that Saturday. But I can’t prove it. All I can say is I did not get an alignment report for the 1st alignment, so who knows what was done.
Not sure I mentioned this before, but when I first noticed the original problem, I checked front tire pressure thinking right was low - and found (crazily) that RF=41 psi, while LF=32 !? How could low-on-left cause a right-hand pull?
When I evened the pressure it actually wasn’t worse - it felt better but still had a slight pull to right when wheel centered . I also checked rears at same time and set appropriately (they were both low but even side to side).
I have since checked the tires regularly (each morning) and cold pressure is good and consistent all the way around.
I really feel I should go to 3rd-party to get another opinion but I’m afraid they might screw it up worse. or Toyota will say I’ve voided the warranty.
I will try rear to front swap and see what happens. If not tire then maybe strut or suspension issue.
I didn’t like the fact that the alignment report did not show SAI - so if there was damage it’s not called out ;(
My buddy at work said he had a Mercedes that had similar problem for 10 years. Every time he got tires he had a pull problem - except once. He took the car to a different place someone recommended and the guy said his steering wheel wasn’t set right. After the guy aligned it and set it, the car was good until those tires wore out - upon new set of tires he had the same problem (rh pull); he went back to same place that did his alignment “right” but that guy had left - my buddy let them do the alignment anyway and he said it was never right ever again. So goes to prove that some people know “tricks” that others don’t
I did read online somewhere that the alignment machines values are not to be trusted for correctness. The machine should be used to set the alignment to the mfg “preferred” settings (despite what machine may say about it. Is this true? It was said in the same posting that you could do 20 alignments and if you set to it the ‘center of the range’ it would never be good since the mfg has a preferred setting that wouldn’t necessarily match or even be considered "correct’; maybe this is also part of the problem…
Well after 4K miles and two dealerships - I have a blown right front strut causing my alignment issue - 2nd dealer said it’s been this way since first report due to the almost complete lack of fluid left in strut and amount of accumulated dirt that stuck to the leaking fluid on the outside of the strut. As an FYI - for the last 2K miles I’ve had a shake at high speed which tech indicated was due to the strut finally running out of fluid. So I wasn’t crazy, “road crown” is BS (as I knew it was) - I’m not hyper-sensitve and my assessment (without even knowing) was accurate at some level (strut being an issue). 2nd dealer is going to replace strut and do a 4-wheel alignment in a few days once the part arrives.
F*ing lame-a** dealer/tech (1st dealership). Registered complaint with Toyota.
I know when a car is under warranty, you have to go to the dealer for suspension and alignment work. However, after the warranty is up, I prefer an independent shop that specializes in suspension and alignment work. For years, I went to such a shop. The proprietor once showed me his appointment book. New car dealers and chain tire shops were customers. When they had a tricky problem they couldn’t solve, and their customers complained loudly, the car was sent to this independent specialist. That shop is long gone, but I do business with an independent tire shop that has good suspension and alignment technicians. The owner explained to me that he wants a customer’s tires to last as long as possible so they will make their next tire purchase at his store.
A faulty strut might not show up during an alignment, if it was just the shock absorber part that was faulty. It could affect the dynamic alignment though, something a driver would notice when driving.
If I’m understanding the sequence here, the actual cause still hasn’t been 100% determined. Once the problem goes away after the strut is replaced, that’s the final proof that the strut was the cause.
Let us know how you make out. We do care, and I for one would also like to know if it truly was the strut. That could definitely cause your symptoms, but the truth will only be known once the strut is changed and full alignment done.
When a car is under warranty you have to go to a dealer, but you don’t have to go to the dealer you bought it from. Any Toyota dealer can do warranty repairs on any Toyota. The same is true for any make. In my area ], Toyota dealers love to get warranty work away from the selling dealers because they figure they will gt your future repair work.
So the final outcome of my ‘journey’ was:
a) A blown strut at 11K miles (right-front passenger side) which caused driving dynamics to be affected - squirliness in steering/handling is the only way I can describe the behavior - just could tell that something wasn’t right.
b) Four four-wheel alignments (well probably 3 since I don’t think the first dealer really did one at 11K when I first reported the problen)
c) a four-wheel balance completed the repairs (I had to pay for this, but at this point I don’t care).
After replacing the strut I had a shimmy at certain speeds above 55mph. It wasn’t consistent through the entire speed range (only at certain speeds). At speeds above 75mph it was consistent. It was not very “shaky” but more like a vibration that could be felt through the body and the steering wheel. When they replaced the strut they also did the 15K service and rotated the tires.
The tech did a test drive with me this morning and could easily detect the problem. He wasn’t sure if it was balance or something else at the time (he said some camry’s have a torque-converter shutter but he said that was at lower speeds). After the 4-wheel balance (and another alignment check, just to be sure). It’s spot on and smooth all the way up to 85mph (as far as I went).
Sadly, the steering wheel is still 1-2 degrees tilted to left when car is driving straight - the tech even tried to correct today and insisted it was, but it isn’t. and has nothing to do with road crown. I may try to adjust (shorten) the left tie rod and lengthen the right tie rod to correct myself. I found a great blog post about how to do it in a controllable way at home.
The tech told me that he though the balance issue could have been caused by the bad strut causing abnormal wear on the one tire (although he said it wasn’t visually worn, it could just have had the wheel sitting funny and then when rotated the tire was being forced to wear in a different way (normal) causing the vibration. I don’t know, I guess.
Anyway it’s all good now!
The second dealer has been great and I appreciate that they took the time to investigate the problem thoroughly (even if had been a fools-errand), unlike the first dealer who just tried to blow me off and tell me I was imagining things.
I guess the old addage ‘get a second opinion’ is true here
How do you figure it’s “all good” if the steering wheel is still off?
To me, it sounds like the shop isn’t done
I advise you to NOT try to correct this yourself. That’s what the shops are there for, and it’s their job
Concur on this.
I had alignment done by the neighbor shop a couple of years ago, they made it good on angles, but left steering wheel tilted 10-15 degrees.
After my complaint, they grumpily put it back on machine and in 15 minutes it was just right.