Honda Civic Alignment

I took my Daughter’s 2012 Honda Civic into the dealership for an oil change and tire rotation. They checked the wheel alignment and indicated a severe toe problem in the rear. I then took the vehicle to a local alignment shop ($45 vs $100+) that I have done business with in the past with other vehicles.

My local alignment shop shows the same toe problem on the rear. However they indicate that it cannot be corrected with the original manufacturer parts that are on the car. They indicate we will have to purchase and install after market alignment capable parts in order to align the wheels properly.

I’m a little confused. How does the dealership think they can align the wheels using the factory installed parts?

Why does Honda put out a product that cannot have the wheels aligned?

Your ideas are appreciated.

They don’t have to use Honda parts. On my Buick they needed to use shims that I doubt were GM parts.

On many modern cars–unfortunately–it is necessary to use a “kit” in order to align the rear wheel correctly.

Even if the dealership did not mention it, they would be using an alignment kit, just as the local shop would do. The only difference is that the dealership would use a kit from Honda, and the local shop might use one made by Moog or another aftermarket mfr.

It’s not unusual for the rear to have minimal to no adjustment, and for special kits to be required… So it’s not a special thing about something Honda put out.

On the question of what the dealership vs. the independent shop said, alignment is about 50% science and 50% art. (Others may want to change the percentages toward more “science” - but it’s not 100% science). All of the specs (e.g. camber caster toe) are ranges. Perhaps the dealership techs thought they could get it within spec without a kit, and and the alignment shop doesn’t. Perhaps the dealer was going to “save” that bit of info for a mid-service phone call and tack an extra $xx onto the bill. Who knows?

Personally I’d rather go with the independent alignment shop.

Did either place tell you how the toe got so out of spec? Was everything thoroughly inspected for damage / wear?

Is handling wonky? Are you wearing out tires (outside edges)? I’d argue rear alignment failure this soon is a warranty item.

" I’d argue rear alignment failure this soon is a warranty item."

On a 2 year old car?
After it could have hit an unknown number of potholes and/or curbs?
I seriously doubt it.

Many manufacturers will approve warranty-related alignments on cars for the first 6 months, and–possibly–for a bit longer than 6 months. I have never heard of a car mfr covering alignments after 2 years.

Thank you for your insight. The mid-service phone call $$$ is exactly what I want to avoid. Especially since the dealer already stated approx. $100.

The independent service folks were somewhat baffled that it was that far out in the rear. No visible damage was mentioned. The front is almost within spec! Seems like the front would be really bad too based on the rear. Independent service implied it might have been that way since brand new.

BTW the car seems to drive just fine!

For parts, install, and alignment the independent wants just under $1400. I’m not a happy honda owner. Car has under 20k miles.

Youch. $1400? What are they planning to install? This is normally just a matter of installing some shims and not a lot more than a routine alignment. What are the details here? I think that you need to get to the bottom of why the toe is so far out back there. Perhaps a clear explanation from Honda.

If it is really that bad and has been since new then you would be getting really bad a weird tire wear back there. Any sign of that?

I’ll have to check at next opportunity. Daughter is out with it now.

The independent wants to install Adj Camber Arms. Oh, I double checked the repair est. and it is $1040, not $1400. My bad, still hurts.

Yeah - ask her if she’s had any encounters with curbs or ditches or things like that too.

The rear toe is adjustable on the standard Civic, is this a special model? There are adjustment cams on the lower control arms for toe.

The rear camber is not adjustable without replacement parts. Is there a problem with the camber?

Go back to the Honda dealer and see if they can correct the alignment without replacing the control arms.

I hear ya on the curbs and ditches!

If the daughter hit a curb hard with a rear wheel it might be guessed that it is on the right side. Ask if one or both rear wheels need alignment. If only one rear wheel is misaligned and expensive parts are needed rather than shims, then why pay for parts and labor to align both rear wheels? It’s entirely possible that one wheel needs no work. If both need work then it just might be speculated that this car came out of the factory with misaligned rear wheels. Just wondering out loud…

Camber very slightly out of spec is not a big deal but toe is important to have right.

I would wonder too if a bent arm could be bent back if made of steel, not aluminum. A little work hardening from minimal bending, not a lot, can make the part stronger. Check Wiki on this if you like.

You started off saying the problem is with the toe so I wonder why your independent wants to put in a camber kit. If camber is that far off, something got bent. I think you might be better off getting a quote from the Honda dealer and ask them if it includes everything.

For some reason Honda’s can be tricky to align properly. I have only found one independent mechanic that was able to align our Honda’s correctly, and I tried several that had good reputations. This might be better handled by the dealer.

I drive an older Civic, a '98, and it has the same issue. One of the alignment measures is off-spec, but there is no way to adjust the alignment for this particular dimension. I just ignore it and forget about it. It doesn’t affect handling or make my tires wear out unevenly, so until I see some symptom that it is causing a problem, I’m going to leave it like it is.