Constant alignment problems

steering

#1

I have a '93 Honda Accord that I inherited from my grandmother (metallic green of course). It only has 60k on the odometer and it generally runs great. Over the one and a half years I’ve had it I’ve had the alignment done three times and it’s starting to go bad again. The first time it was aligned with no problem at a local shop about 6 months after I received the car. The second was at a Honda dealer just a few months after that. The techs did a four wheel alignment and told me that one of the tires was worn improperly and contributing to the problem. I purchased new tires (the old set needed replacement anyway) but a few weeks after that the alignment was off again. I took it to a different Honda dealership and they found one of the rear wheels out of alignment.



It’s been less than three months since that time and my alignment problem has returned. The car pulls strongly to the right (as it has every other time the alignment is wrong) and driving on the highway is a frustrating chore of keeping the car in the lane. The steering lacks a neutral feel: turning right is easier than turning the wheel left. On the highway the steering takes a lot of effort to get moving either right or left and then suddenly moves easily, making my lane changes very darty.



Any ideas as to what the problem could be?




#2

This is indeed a mystery to me. Did your alignment people look for worn, binding, or bent suspension components? Are you hitting parking car stop curbs too hard or are you hitting curbs too hard when parallel parking? Worn tires can not cause alignment problems but the reverse is true. A decently qualified professional alignment mechanic should be able to quickly find the problem. I suspect that your mechanic may not be fully qualified.


#3

Pulling can be caused by a bent suspension part and it may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
Assuming these alignments were done with computer operated equipment, any chance of posting the alignment specs from the last print-out?

Tire bias can also cause a pull and this has nothing to do with alignment. Brand new tires can exhibit this behavior.

On the off-chance that you might have low pressure due to a valve stem or wheel rim leak, I would advise checking the tire pressure and then try rotating the 2 front tires from side to side to rule out a tire bias problem if the tire pressure is fine.


#4

The tie rods could be unequal in length, which could cause the steering to be easy i one direction and hard in another. Someone could have screwed one in most of the way and screwed the other one out to compensate. You can turn the steering lock to lock, then back halfway and see if the wheels are straight; if they are not, you will need an adjustment. You have another problem beside that one. Your right side CV joint might be tight for a strange reason. It would be a strange one because it isn’t making any noise. The right brake caliper could be stuck due to rusted hardware. They would have found a worn wheel bearing by now if you had one. The power steering could be stuck. They’ll have to jack up the front and see if the wheels turn by themselves. A broken engine mount might cause a steering problem too.


#5

Negative caster due to a worn ball joint would cause the symptoms.


#6

It could be the rack and pinion, more specifically the valve body that controls the power steering fluid direction. If for some reason it is not perfectly centered, it will pull to one side and upset the left right bias. It could also be in the rear tire alignment. Have someone follow you sometime and see if the car “crabs” going down the road, that is the rear tires are off to the left or right of the front tires.