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Front-End Alignment for FWD?

My city has most manholes in the near-center, and near right-side of the street. The manholes are sunken, making them very similar to a pothole. When I crawl along the street, I can spot,and avoid them, but at normal speed, I feel, boom, boom, boom. Will constantly hitting these street indentations cause my front-end to go out of alignment? I’ve had front-end alignments on my RWD vehicles, but do FWD vehicles need them as well? I ask because I feel a slight pulling to one side of the car while I am driving. A tire was replaced recently, due to me hitting a curb when the curb was covered with snow–thought it was just another snow bank, and surprise!

Yes, FWD cars need alignments, too. And yes, your car needs an alignment. Everything you reported says so.

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Yes, FWD vehicles need periodic wheel alignment, just like RWD and AWD vehicles.
However, more to the point…

In addition to the possible need for alignment, it is also possible–depending on the speed of that “hit”–that you have a bent wheel or damage to the suspension and/or steering components.

Get thee to a well-reputed front-end shop (NOT a chain-run operation) for examination of your front end, and evaluation of your alignment.

Gee, thanks for the replies, both of you. There is an independent shop near me that supposedly does good work. Goodyear is also nearby, but they suck, while inspecting my car, the inspector forgot to replace my lug nut caps, oil filter was loose, and didn’t replace a windshield wiper properly; I know nothing about automotive mechanics, but I fixed what he missed. So much for an AAA recommended shop.

If the tire was damaged enough to warrant replacement, I’d also get that rim checked out. At least throw it on the balancer and make sure it’s not obviously wobbling

When these curb strikes occur, you often wind up bending a tie rod end, or at the very least, needing the toe adjusted. You could even mess up a steering knuckle or control arm, depending on how severe the curb strike was

I’ll have the rim inspected when I get the alignment. I’ll hope there is no severe damage.

Thanks db960

Whoops! it is db4960

Wehave that manhole cover problem in my area too. One time they resurfaced one of the main surface roads and for some reason left the manholes with a 6 inch wide depressed donut around them. Every time my poor Corolla hit one of those, bang! This went on for 3 or 4 months before they finally came back and filled those depressions in. Go figure.

In regard to your issue, my Corolla is a similar design to your car, & was pulling to the right a little the other day I noticed. It turned out the tires on that side were a little low on air pressure. Getting them all with the correct air pressure fixed it straight away. Suggest to make sure all the tires are at the correct air pressure before considering more expensive alternatives. Moving the wheels to different positions to see if the pull follows the tire positions would be the next step. As mentioned above, fwd vehicles can go out of alignment as easily as rwd ones.

Yes get it aligned. Just did my FWD for about $100, 4 wheel alignment. And yes I hate those manhole pot holes. A few years ago they changed the main drag from four lane with parking on both sides to four lane with center turn lanes and no parking. That put the manholes right in the track of the tires going one direction and nothing going the other way. They have collars to raise them up to street level but that’s expensive and changes every time the resurface the road.

Thanks Bing,

So I’ll guess that living in a non-wealthy city, the residents are screwed. In San Francisco, some were raised, but that city is extremely wealthy, and why I left SF. I’ll continue to avoid the manholes.

Be well,

I have a TPMS in all 4 tires. At this time, no tires are complaining. I feel an alignment is the solution. My first FWD car was a Dodge Omni, I loved it, and maintained it meticulously. Owning it for 7 years, I never had it aligned–not needed. I made sure that the tires were rotated, and I made sure that the pressure was okay.

Mr. San Jose, my car was built in Fremont, a few miles away. That factory now builds Teslas.

I am interpreting your comment to mean that you believe the presence of a TPMS obviates the need for a car owner to manually check tire pressure. Am I correct in my assumption?

The federal mandate for TPMS–which followed the Explorer/Firestone tire debacle–is intended to warn drivers of sudden pressure loss in one or more tires while the vehicle is in operation. It was never intended to eliminate periodic manual checking of tire pressure, and most TPMS systems will not give you a warning until a tire’s pressure is ~25% lower than the mfr’s specified tire pressure.

If the recommended tire pressure for your car is–let’s say–26 psi, you could be driving around with only ~20 psi in one or more tires, and the TPMS warning light will not be glowing on your instrument panel, despite the reality that the car’s handling, directional stability, gas mileage, tread life, and resistance to blow-out have all been compromised by that low tire pressure.

My recommendation is to buy a good-quality tire pressure gauge, to use it ~once a month, and to correct tire pressure as soon as you detect pressure loss. I prefer dial-type pressure gauges to “pencil-type” gauges, but any tire pressure gauge is better than none.

For your edification:

…not quite VCDdrive,

I remove the air valve covers on my tires in order to check the air pressure myself; although, the TPMS system does help. I have 3 tire pressure gauges as well; digital, and analog.

Okay, it’s good to see that you do some manual checking of your tire pressure. Just be sure to check the tires again, before you go to the alignment shop.

I will.


fyi OP, I found this recently published article about a diy’er friendly wheel alignment kit really interesting. Not that I would do my own wheel alignment, but if you can follow the basics of the procedure, it clarifies what a wheel alignment actually involves, what wheel orientation and steering angle parameters they are trying to measure, and what the technical challenges are to get an accurate one.

Thank very much, but I’ll pass. My driveway is wet most days, due the
amount of rain, or snow in this climate.

I understand. I wouldn’t do it myself either. But it is sort of interesting to see how it is done.

You’re right.

I agree. It is highly likely that it will need alignment and possibly some repair.