Proactive alignment question

2014.5 Toyota Camry
4-cylinder with 6-speed auto trans
10, 000 miles with tires rotated at 5k and 10k
Original owner since April 2014 purchase new

Tires show no uneven or abnormal wear. Dealer claims the car should not need an alignment unless exhibiting problems.

Independent mechanic who did much of the service on the previous Impala (the rear end of which would not stay in alignment due to a Chevy design defect) always recommended an annual pro-active four wheel alignment on all cars.

Owner’s manual has no recommendation for alignment at any time/mileage interval all the way through 144 months / 120k miles.

No undue tire wear. No steering / handling issues.

QUESTION: Should I have four wheel alignment done on a proactive basis? If so, at what recommended time/mileage intervals?

…still reading, still learning…

I wouldn’t be concerned with it if it was my car. Maybe you could have things looked over at 100K miles. If you take a good hit with the wheels at some point in time then you may want to have things checked over.

It sounds like you’re doing an excellent job monitoring the wear. If the alignment is out, it’ll show up first there, and well before it manifests itself anywhere else. If there were a serious problem, you’d feel it.

Just keep monitoring the wear, as you should everything else, and enjoy your new ride.

Yeah, leave it alone:

My wife’s 06 Sienna has never needed an alignment since new. My 2000 Blazer never had one in the 10 years I owned it. No tire wear or handling issues with either.

On the other hand, I noticed uneven tire wear on my 2013 Equinox at 29k miles. It needed a front and rear alignment that set me back $300 for additional parts and labor for the rear.


The Toyota dealer will do a free alignment in the first year if you tell them “It hust doesn’t feel right, will you check the alignment?” or if you tell him “the steering seems to need correcting all the time” or “”. it doesn’t want to stay on center". After a year they will run it over an toe-in plate every time you come in and if it is out you then have the privilege of paying for one. Ask me how I know.

Nope, don’t bother. If it drives straight and the tires don’t wear, you are good.

@“oldtimer 11” LOL. I can easily guess.

There have been zero problems with handling, steering, staying centered, etc.

In fact, the only other cars I have ever driven with such a secure feel to steering were a used 1989 Mecury Grand Marquis my dad had for a few years and a 10 or 12 year old Ford Crown Vic an elderly friend has.

I asked about this just to be sure I am not neglecting advisable preventive maintenance.

I’m usually the odd man out but checking the alignment ever so often is a good idea. One reason is so that a good alignment tech can check suspension and steering components for wear and alert the car owner to potential problems.
Would I recommend it at 10k miles? No; unless it’s know that the car has suffered a curb strike or hit some bad potholes. Maybe at the 50k miles mark.

Another reason is that people motor around with certain facets of the alignment out of spec and are not even aware of it. In some cases it’s gradual and the car owner becomes acclimated to it much like what happens when shocks or struts start failing.
I’ve done a lot of alignments and I can assure you that I’ve found the majority out of whack in some way.

When I worked for SAAB part of the PDI process on new cars was to check the alignment before the car was placed for sale. My non-scientific estimate is that roughly half of the new cars and those in for the first major service at 15k miles needed tweaks to the alignment.

My gut feeling is that if someone took 20 cars off the front line at any new car dealer (make irrelevant) and checked the alignment one would find a fair number of them out of whack to one degree or the other.

Part of this depends on where you live and the road conditions you encounter.

When I lived in Colorado near a ski resort community I had alignments done every couple of years. But that was b/c the roads often had huge potholes winter through spring. One time I hit a pothole at a major intersection, heard my hubcap bounce away, so I stopped to go back and find my missing hubcap. I found mine. And 40 more! All laying there more or less in a pile of hubcaps, thrown free by cars hitting the same pothole.

Here in urban northern California I’ve never needed an alignment. Roads are smoother and pretty much pothole free.

Your car does not need periodic alignment. Unless it does.

There’s no right or wrong on this one. It’s very well possible that the big pothole you hit in last week’s rain storm bent a wheel or tie rod ever so slightly. It’s possible that the parking curb you ran over leaving Costco in a hurry jarred the rear alignment out of spec. Or it’s possible that everything is just fine. I know, not much help.

Tire wear may tell you if an alignment issue exists, but often by the time irregular tire wear is present the tire is on the way out the door.

Not really relevant on your car, but certainly with a car over 100,000 miles, it’s possible that bushings or mounts are worn causing an alignment issue.

Ever heard the line “If it ain’t broke, keep fixing it until it is”? Or something like that.

The factory alignment is done dynamically, you can’t get a better alignment. Until something knocks it out, do not adjust. Keep checking those tires for any abnormal tire wear and of course, if the car starts to pull to one side, get it checked.

You’re doing well to ask and if all seems well you can ask yourself again at 25,000 miles. If you look at the rear tires from 30 or 40 feet to the rear and they look like they are straight, vertically, then things are OK. If the top of the tire tips in a little then that should be fixed. I’ll start looking at Camrys and if I see a few that look out of rear alignment I may post again. So far I haven’t noticed any.

Well then, I shall follow the general consensus of opinion and leave well enough alone until more miles and/or any signs of problems. Just trying to be sure I keep ahead of wear and tear issues.

Guess I am paranoid after three decades of driving GM cars, including the Impala that wouldn’t stay in alignment long enough to idle around the block. Need I say more? :wink:

My experience has been that if you think you need an alignment, seek out a specialist. We had a great alignment shop in my town some years back. I went to this shop on the recommendation of the service station where I traded. When we moved away to go to graduate school, I took the car to Sears and it was worse when they got through. I took it back and got no help. I then asked the service station where I traded near campus about where I should go for an alignment. He recommended, of all places, the International Truck dealer, but said they were booked up months in advance. He said he would see what he could arrange. A week later he called and said if I would leave the car at the service station that evening, he would take it to the alignment specialist and he would do the alignment the next day at 6:00 a.m. This is what I did–the car steered perfectly and the report was that the toe bad been set wrong. This was 46 years ago. When we moved back after grad school and needed an alignment, I went back to my original alignment shop and was talking to the owner about the problem I had bad in the town where I did my graduate work. The,owner said,"Let me show you something ". He got out his appointment book and he did work for not only dealers but chain tire storindependent which had their own alignment racks. He said that if the customer complained loudly enough, these places would bring the car to him. Unfortunately, that man is long gone and the shop has become a liquor store.
The cars I own today don’t seem to go out of alignment like my 1965 Rambler did. I have alignments,done at an independent tire store now, but the only vehicles that needed an alignment were my 1993 Oldsmobile and my 2006 Uplander. If your tires are wearing evenly and the car steees, o.k., drive on. If you have a problem, seek out the local expert. A good, independent tire store may be a good bet. They can’t afford to sell tires to a customer and have the tires wear out prematurely.

“Guess I am paranoid after three decades of driving GM cars, including the Impala that wouldn’t stay in alignment long enough to idle around the block. Need I say more?” - Marnet

Interesting comment. IMHO we need not wonder why they went bankrupt.

I might pose this question. How many of you responders have ever worked an alignment rack?

How many of you responders have ever worked an alignment rack?

Raises hand and waves…

I remember being thrilled when the new aligner didn’t have strings running around the car.

How many of you responders have ever worked an alignment rack?

I have and I won’t be convinced that a vehicles structure or suspension can change going around the block.

There's no right or wrong on this one. It's very well possible that the big pothole you hit in last week's rain storm bent a wheel or tie rod ever so slightly.

The problem here in New England…I’m not hitting ONE pot-hole…I’m hitting multiple pot-holes DAILY…We have so many roads this year that have numerous new problems they are impossible to avoid.

I usually have an alignment done when I buy new tires (every other year). And they are ALWAYS out of spec…sometimes by a lot. You drive nice smooth roads all the time then you may never need an alignment.