Alignment question--Toyota Camry

Would a Toyota dealer/service center have better quality or more accurate equipment to do an alignment? Or would a typical tire chain store have similar equipment?

I ask because my car still pulls to the left slightly with 4 new tires and an alignment from the tire store. Only seems to happen when the roads are crowned–are my expectations too high? Is there a way to make a car less affected by crowned roads? (my commute is on a very crowned highway and it gets very annoying) Thanks in advance.

I think what is key is skill of the alignment tech, so a dealer doesn’t necessarily have better equipment than any other well equipped shop.

In your particular case, I would take it back to the shop. Most alignments come with a 90 day/3000 mile warranty (or longer), so I would give them a chance to correct the issue.

It doesn’t hurt to solicit some opinions from other folks about where the best place is to go for alignments in a particular community.

Also, check the air pressure in your tires. It’s common for tire stores to leave the tires with uneven and incorrect pressures. Many of the bead busters they employ are less than thorough, especially when being pushed by their supervisor for speed.

Any chance you could post the alignment specs on the printout?
It’s possible to have a car that is aligned within specs and still pull due to a combination of camber/caster figures and road crown.

Generally speaking, the right side is set up with a slight difference in caster and camber to offset the road crown.
With many vehicles camber/caster is built in and if one or both of those are off this could point to suspension wear or something being bent.

It would also help to know if this car was purchased new, miles on the car, or has been in any accidents, curb strikes, etc.

I have a 93 Caprice that pulled hard to the right with 4 new (<4K miles) Dunlop tires. Two alignments and a front to back tire rotation later, it still pulled to the right.

Out of desperation I switched the front tires side to side. The car tracked straight after the switch. When those tires were replaced 6 years later, the Caprice had a mild pull to the right with the new tires. Again a side to side switch fixed the pull.

Ed B.

Thanks to all who replied. It is still under warranty so I am going back tomorrow to have it realigned. I suspect that (going by ok4450’s advice) it is aligned to account for a crown that is higher on the left side of the lane (like a 2-lane road) rather than higher on the right side of the lane (divided highway with median where I do 90% of my driving). The car behaves better in the right lanes than in the left!

For the record:
I have checked tire pressure religiously, at least once a week with no changes or losses. My receipt does not have the specs on it. I bought the car in April from an elderly driver–has only 43K miles now. Had old tires on it and 34K miles when I bought it but it did not pull either direction. Has been in at least 1 minor accident before I purchased it and likely many curb strikes before I purchased it. It passed MD state inspection in April which is fairly rigorous and likely would have found any suspension damage.

Update: I took it back to the shop and they realigned it for free under warranty. Still pulled to the left and they filled the tires to 45psi. D’oh! (recommended pressure is 29).

I followed edb1961’s advice and switched the front tires side-to-side. It then pulled RIGHT. A-HA!!

Then noticed some “feathering” on the right front (formerly left front). Switched right front and right rear. NO PULL.

If these are “new” tires there shouldn’t be any “feathering”. From your symptoms and cure via moving tires around I’d say you have one or more bad tires. The rotating has resolved the pulling problem but if a tire(s) is defective you will have more problems before the tires wear out. I think you need to pay a visit to the seller of the tires.

OK, here’s the way this works:

Tires have a property called “Conicity”. Root word “cone”. It isn’t an individual tire’s concity, but the difference between the left and the right front tires that cause a pull problem.

Further, vehicle have different sensitivity to concity. Some are very sensitive, some are not.

Let’s say you have 4 tires with conicity values of 3, 4, 5, and 8 - and a vehicle that is sensitive to anything greater than 4. The one combination that results in a difference of 5 or more is when 3 and 8 are paired. Everything else is OK.

In this case, swapping a front tire with a rear tire might make all the tires compatible with the sensitivity of the vhicle. The only way to be sure is to now take the rear tires and move them to the front. It’s possible that there will not be a pull. If not, then the odd tire has been isolated.