Alignment question

I have a 2000 Corolla CE with 48k miles that I bought 2 months ago. I took it in for an alignment and balance because it was pulling to one side and the steering shakes slightly at 70mph.

The before measurements was this:
Left Front:
Camber: 0.0
Caster: 1.2
Toe: 0.17

Right Front:
Camber: -0.7
Caster: 1.6
Toe: 0.28

Front Total Toe: 0.45
Steer Ahead: -0.06

Rear Left:
Camber: -1.0
Toe: 0.50

Rear Right:
Camber -0.7

Rear Total Toe: 0.46
Thrust Angel: 0.27

The after measurements was this:
Left Front:
Camber: 0.1
Caster: 1.2
Toe: 0.08

Right Front:
Camber: -0.7
Caster: 1.5
Toe: 0.07

Front Total Toe: 0.14
Steer Ahead: 0.01

Rear Left:
Camber: -0.9
Toe: 0.22

Rear Right:
Camber -0.7

Rear Total Toe: 0.44
Thrust Angel: 0.00

They said that the alignment was so frozen solid (I guess it had rust) that they couldn’t get it off without using the heat weld gun. They also used a Hunter Force Balancer to balance all 4 wheels. They told me the front 2 tires was in bad condition (even though I got them new 3 months ago) so they switched the ones from the back to the front. They also told me my struts were going to go bad soon.

Do these measurements sound right? I think my struts are good, when going over a bump, I can’t feel anything and I can hear the “gas shocks” working perfectly. Plus the bounce test I did on the struts were just fine.

I travel on some awful roads with full of potholes…how long can I expect this alignment to last?

(Btw, I have not tested the alignment on the highway yet, I will do that tomm morning).

I don’t really see anything in the before and after specs that would point to a problem other than the toe being off on the before side of the ledger.

Without knowing what kind of wear patterns are present on the tires it’s impossible to say with certainty what is going on.

The toe being off generally causes feather edging of the tires and bad or weak struts/shocks will cause cupping. Sometimes the two symptoms are mistakenly mixed up.

The bounce test is not always 100% accurate when it comes to determining whether or not a shock or strut is bad. It may work on a shock/strut that is beyond hope but not work on an iffy unit.

You never told us whether what they did fixed the problems. Did it??

One suggestion: when you have a vehicle that’s pulling to one side andor shaking, don’t take it in for an alignment. Take it in to have the pulling and shaking diagnosed and corrected. There are numerous possible causes that alignment won’t address. Yes, you’ll probably need an alignment, but at least the tech will focus on diiagnosing the proble rather than only doing an alignment. It does sound like yours was pretty thorough, however.

As regards the struts, many techs believe that mileage should be a determinant of whether the struts need changing. It sounds like yours is using that criterion and preparing you for that day. I only subscribe to that theory for very high mileage struts. Some struts get soft in 60,000 miles, some seem to last twice that. Generally worn out struts will be obvious in tire wear and/or ride and handling.

So, is the problem fixed or not?

From the looks of it, your left front is bent a small bit. The pulling left pull (and it does pull left, correct?) is caused by the negative camber on the right pushing the car to the left. The greater caster on the right is compensating a bit by leading the steering to the right. The rear is adding to this left lead by “steering” the rear to the right with greater camber at the left rear. Confused yet? Both front and rear make it pull left

You have too much toe at the front likely causing some cupping on the front tires which would cause a little vibration.

The after numbers show very little change in the front camber and caster and they fixed the toe at the front. The rear, however, shows they reduced the cross camber variation at the rear (0.2 degrees) to reduce the steering effect to almost zero.

If this doesn’t fix the left pull, take it back and request they put more negative camber in the left front, 0.50 degrees should do it. It may mean they need to take a round file and enlarge the hole in the strut bracket to get there but as long as the bolts are tightened properly, you will be fine. They may insist on installing a crash bolt on that side rather than file it. That’s OK, too.

Don’t worry about the struts, if they aren’t leaking, all is well.

I will be able to drive it tomorrow morning and let you know how it goes.

While doing the wheel balance on the front tires on the balancer machine, he said that both front tires was bad and they were hammering the rim or something to get it to balance. The guy said “to make even” or something.

The hammering was when the wheel weight was being installed to correct the out of balance condition. The toe was way off in front and the rear toe was trying to steer the car in a circle, so the tires were scrubbing and the rear toe was trying to fight you. I don’t know what the rear toe should be but it might be ok now. You will know something tomorrow.

Ok, I drove it this morning…the alignment is straight and the car no longer pulls to the left.

The wheel vibration is there a bit. When I let go off the steering wheel, the steering wheel vibrates and turns 0.001 degrees left and right constantly. Since the bad tires were put in the rear, do you think it will “wear off” after a couple of hundred miles?

I can live with it, it isn’t a big problem…but will this constant vibration (not that much) damage the axle/strut/control arm/tie rods?

Would getting brand new 4 tires fix this problem?

Can you feel or see any irregularity in the tread of any of the tires?

No, the tread looks fine too me…doesn’t look worn or fading (not a tire expert)

Try slowly wiping your open hand, spread across the tread, around the tire’s circumference. Sometimes it’s easier to feel the irregularities than to see them. Shining a light sideways across the tread surface will accentuate irregularities too.

Once a tire has wear irregularities, they won’t disappear with simple wear. Back in the days of bias plys, shops used to have tire shaving machines to round out tires, but I doubt of any shop would have this any more unless they were specializing in racing.

So only option is to replace the tire…now I can live with the vibration. Will it damage the other components of the suspension/steering if I keep it?

I plan to eventually replace all 4 tires 6 months down the line…I just dont want it to damage any existing components until then.

@xami, you don’t need to worry about this small vibration hurting anything. It might annoy YOU a bit but it won’t hurt parts that are designed to hit potholes without damage.

The curious part is that all the rotating bits at each corner have been fixed/balanced/swapped and it STILL vibrates. I’d say you can rule out tires (once there are a few miles on the swap) since they’ve been balanced and rotated and it is still there. The tire guy saw the tires spin up and didn’t say you had a bent wheel. Maybe a CV joint starting to fail or maybe a bent hub (I’d check the left front first, right second).

Live with it a while and see if it gets better (tires wearing in) or gets worse, (CV joint, wheel bearings other?).

The steering wheel moving left to right constantly is supposed to be caused by dynamic unbalance. In the old days we used to have the tires spin balanced to try to correct that. The problem with that was that there would be shaking at a certain speed. That wasn’t too bad unless it happened at the exact speed you wanted to drive. It could be annoying.

Other than rebalancing the front wheels, there is probably no solution to it. The new tires will probably help.

Put a different way - No, the irregular wear on the formerly front tires (now rear) that was (is) causing the vibration is probably there permanently. If you are lucky, it might get better, but do not count on it.