Alignment of one wheel?

When I took my 4WD Highlander Hybrid in for an alignment, they said there was a problem that kept them from aligning one wheel. Assuming they did the other 3, can the one remaining wheel be aligned when the wheel is fixed? Or do they all have to be redone?

It probably doesn’t matter b/c I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone charge for an alignment by the wheel. The charge for alignment is just a charge for an alignment whether 1 or 4 wheels get adjusted. What did they say the problem was and why wasn’t it fixed at the time?

A significant part of alignment is the set up for the equipment. The shop will likely charge the full price of an alignment even if they find everything perfectly aligned. If you declined a repair needed to correctly align the car they still charge the fee. If you return and get the repair made and get it aligned the basic charge will be due again.

More detail would be helpful including identifying the location of the wheel that supposedly can’t be aligned and a brief explanation explaining why the wheel can’t be aligned and/or the name of the setting.

The three usual settings are caster, camber and toe with caster and even camber declared unadjustable by some. There are ways to adjust these.

Should have thought of this before, but I want to quote from dealer’s the invoice from our last service. They replaced our prematurely worn tires with tires they’d ordered for us (our choice of brand/model) and then tried to do the alignment.

They did charge $70 for 4 wheel alignment, even though they say they couldn’t adjust one of the wheels. I didn’t decline the repair, but they couldn’t even do the repair that day because they needed to order parts. So I guess I’d be charged for two alignments anyway.

Well, here are the comments:

“Alignment: could not adjust the rear toe, both adjusting cams siezed and won’t move. 1.50”

What should I hope for when I take it to the independent repair shop on Monday?

Get two over the phone price estimates first. The dealer may not charge you for a second alignment if you go back there, because they couldn’t get the parts that day and truly finish the job. Find out when you talk to the service advisor.

An independent will probably include an alignment as part of his pricing package.

Sounds like you need two new rear cam adjustment kits. I wouldn’t think the cost is all that great, but it has been some time since I have had to have any installed.

In either case, have them make sure that they can obtain the proper kits and order if needed beforehand so you don’t waste your time.

Oh wow. Stop going to the dealer. Its way too easy for them to do this kind of thing. Or, in other words, I smell a rat. Find a locally owned, independent alignment shop and just take it there. It reminds me of the time I needed warranty service on a car because I had not one, but two defective front window regulators. I had a deductible I had to pay for this. They got me in once and charged me my deductible to do one window but said they had to order parts to do the other. I came back in for the other window - they charged me deductible number two. I’m thinking this is classic sleazy stuff.

What year is this and how many miles are on it? About where do you live?

Do you live in the Rust Belt? If so, that could explain why the bolts are seized and may not come loose. This can lead to a real can of worms sometimes because any means used to free them may destroy bushings (especially with rubber involved) in the control arms or trailing arms.

There may also be another problem. If that one wheel is way out of spec (and can’t be cured because of the frozen bolt) this could mean that something is bent due to a collision, major pot hole or curb strike, etc, etc.

Which wheel is out of whack and by chance do you have a printout giving the specs on that wheel? Just wondering if it’s major league out of spec. If so, replacing any cam bolts may be the least of your worries.

I live in Vermont, so there’s a fair amount of road salt in the winter. And we do have potholes and dirt roads, but I didn’t see any obvious uneven wear pattern in the old tires. The affected wheel is the right rear. No printout, but they did write “1.5” on the invoice next to the problem description. Don’t know if that’s the spec I’d be looking for.

You still haven’t given the year or mileage. VT winters will make a mess of stuff and thus it wouldn’t be a surprise of the adjusters were unworkable. But how believable it is for me would have to do with age. It doesn’t change my guess that there’s a good chance that the dealer is working it to create costs for you that aren’t strictly necessary. But my distrust of dealers goes way back.

It’s a 2007 Highlander Hybrid, about 45K on the odometer.

Mmmmm…all I will do at this point is to reiterate to not take your car to a dealership unless it needs recall of warranty service. Ask around among people you know for a reliable/trustworthy locally owned shop. For tires/alignment issues a shop that specializes in front end/alignment issues is often best.

Ask if the cam adjuster can be turned by applying penetrating oil and then attempting to turn it with an impact wrench beginning at a low and increasing torque setting.

I don’t know anything about the design of your rear toe cam type adjuster but rusted items such a screw threads can often be made to work as intended with this method. Torque applied steadily with a breaker bar and the like can snap a bolt with badly rusted threads but the torque wrench method suggested should not do that. Your 2007 does not seem old enough to suffer from badly rusted steel.

If the toe is off 1.5", something is bent. The cam nut will not compensate that much.

The spec on the rear calls for - .75 on the camber and my gut feeling is that camber and degrees are what they’re referring to instead of inches.

If the total camber is 1.5’ (note the single mark signifying minutes) then I’d say the .75 difference could be attributed to normal wear and settling in.
If the total camber is 1.5’ on top of the - .75 then I’d say something is seriously out of whack.

For all those who offered advice, took it to the independent shop. Unfortunately, diagnosis and fix exactly the same as the dealer. Cost is within 10 dollars of the dealer, too. But I’ll go back there because I like supporting a local business, and they seemed honest and eager to please.