Did they mess up

mazda
steering
alignment
mazda3

#1

I took my car to get an alignment last week because it seemed to me to be pulling to the left. I noticed that ever since then the steering feels a lot more lively/lighter, you could say almost nervous. I checked to see that all my tires were well inflated, all the wheels seem to be correctly mounted and it doesn’t seem like any of the tires are going against the their tread pattern directionality. Is this normal or should I take the car back asap?


#2

I’ve never noticed anything like you describe. But, if the alignment was way off, and the tires were worn accordingly. Getting back on alignment could affect the contact patch where the tire meets the road and that could cause handling problems.

If the car was pulling left then you had to have counteractive pressure on the steering wheel to keep the car straight. Now the car is going straight on its own you don’t need the counteractive pressure and the whole feel of the steering is going to be different.

With little to no pressure on the steering wheel, on a straight road with minimal road cap is the car tracking straight?

Is the car wandering from center? Meaning with little to no pressure on the wheel the car wanders around on the road?

If yes to the first, and no to the second question; then all may be OK. It can’t hurt to take the back for a check on the alignment to the shop that did the work. I had one experience with an alignment that was bad, and the alignment equipment was not calibrated correctly. When the shop got the alignment machine reset, then redid the alignment all was fine.

Your alignment could be OK, but there might be worn parts in the steering and suspension causing a problem that wasn’t detected until the alignment was reset to specs.


#3

Wow! Thanks for the super quick reply.

The tires have less than 3K on them and I don’t think they were worn (unevenly) at all. I thought about what you describe about having to change the amount of pressure I have to deliver on the wheel, that’s why I thought I would wait a week to see what it felt like after having driven it for a while. On some patches of road that I tried, the car goes perfectly straight but on some sections of the highway there seems to be a definite pull that I don’t remember from before. Next time I go out, there is a newly paved street by my house I will try to test the car again, but even newly paved I don’t know if the street is really level.
The car is only 5 years old so I don’t think the steering or suspension parts are worn, at least I never heard it mentioned in inspections, but you never know.


#4

One thing that might do this is if the toe-in/toe-out adjustment was changed significantly - it would alter how the steering feels. It might be set up correctly now, but you could have them double check just to make sure.


#5

I do have a set of adjustable camber links on there so they might have changed that, or changed my toe in/out as you said. It sounds like it is worth taking the car back to the shop to make sure they did their work right.


#6

Yep, have them check. I don’t think camber would have as much of an effect, but who knows?


#7

I’ve noticed that camber does have an effect of the “weight” of the steering.

Thanks for the advice, all!


#8

Camber will have an effect. Front wheels with too much positive camber will be skittish as a chipmunk.

I think the bottom line is that something isn’t right and the car needs to go back for a recheck.


#9

Our OP knows about “adjustable camber links” and is asking a Forum of people he does not know about his cars alignment, have confidence in your own decisions.


#10

Odds are that the existing answers are onto it. But I just have to ask what the tire pressure is actually set at. Its best to use the door pillar specs or maybe a couple of pounds over (as long as that doesn’t exceed the tire’s max psi rating). Overinflated tires can feel fairly squirrely.


#11

@Cigroller: The tires are usually set to what the door pillar specs are aka 32psi the shop had inflated them to 36.

I took the car back to the shop, they checked it over and told me they didn’t see any issues, but when I got the car back it drove more normal, so I think they just wanted to save face. Thanks for the advice, all!