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Alignment, balljoint, amatuer

I recently had an aligment done at the tire shop. Then I replaced the lower balljoint (passenger-front) myself. After the job, the steering wheel isn’t perfectly straight anymore. Have I messed up the aligment? Should I just straighten the steering wheel?

Vehicle information please. Year, make, model, mileage, etc. If the steering wheel is off-center, you need an alignment to correct it. I have heard some people refer to removing and repositioning the steering wheel to center it, but have never seen any vehicle where this is possible. Some ball joint jobs will affect the alignment, others will not.

A proper alighment is one where the wheels are aligned relative to the steering wheel. That centers the steering components relative to their field of travel.

Have a good alignment shop do the job.

No, you should not simply straighten the steering wheel. An off-center wheel means the alignment is off.

You replaced the ball joint after the tire shop did an alignment? You cannot get an accurate alignment with loose or worn out steering/suspension components. The car needs to be realigned.

Right on! If the ball joint needed replacement, the shop should have advised you not to have the alignment done. (Perhaps the shop is not very good at noticing bad ball joints, but I’ll bet they are real good at denying responsibility.)

Thanks everyone. It’s an 88 VW Jetta if that matters, but it’s obvious that I need to bring it back to the shop and ask them to re-align.

I have never seen a car with ONE worn ball-joint. Before you have it aligned, replace the other on too. '88 Jetta?? How are your struts??

The other balljoint was recently replaced by a mechanic trying to do the least possible work in order to pass MA state inspection. Struts aren’t great, but that’s another project to get to I guess. Should I wait to do those before having another alignment?

Regardless of the type of vehicle, replacing a ball joint requires alignment again. Straightening the wheel is part of it. You cannot just take the steering wheel off and move it-won’t work.