I’ve been briving a 2007 Honda Element now for the 3600 miles since March 1. It now has 37000 miles on it. I put new tires on it, and had them balanced 3 times to get the slightest vibration out of the steering wheel, etc. Still, although finally the balancing seems to have done the job, the car has the most irritating slight vibration in it, that I believe has nothing to do with bent or otherwise non-standard OEM components, etc. There is no evidence of serious road damage, etc. Could this perception of vibration be the result of a needed ALIGNMENT? I undertand there are “issues” with Elements and their inability to be properly aligned; Don’t want to hear that… Please advise.
It’s my opinion that a vehicle’s wheels should always be aligned when new tires are installed. Tires are expensive. Why gamble with unknown alignment?
I don’t buy the “difficult to properly align” story. A good alignment shop can do the job, assuming there isn’t some physical damage to suspension components.
I can’t tell you whether the vibration you feel is related to wheel alignment, but if you don’t have the alignment checked how will you know?
I don’t see alignment causing vibrations, but the brakes might. If the rotor was warped, it might be tapping the brake pads once each revolution. You may also have a slightly bent rim.
Another thing you might want to consider is the condition of the shops alignment equipment. For example, I had my 06 Charger aligned at an alignment shop in Feb after replacing some damaged front end components. In April I was noticing wear in the left front tire which was steadily getting worse. Last week I took it to another alignment shop where they found not only the left front wheel toe out of alignment with slight negative camber, the right rear was also out of alignment. No explanation for such a difference other than operator error in using the alignment equipment or equipment issues. The same holds true for wheel balancing machines, one could be reading different than another.
Right, operator error or alignment equipment out of calibration. In the scientific and engineering worlds, equipment used to measure things such as voltage, current, temperature, length, pressure, power consumption and more must be periodically checked against a standard that is traceable to the appropriate standard at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). If there is no formal procedure in place for this using NIST or some other standard set up that applies to wheel alignment equipment, there should be or else you can only hope that the alignment equipment is usable.
Tire pressure gauges are in a similar situation. People spend 14 dollars for one and then pronounce their gauge good for all time without really knowing for sure.
A tire balancer may not need calibration as either it works or it does not; the outcome is obvious.