Prophylactic Alignment?

I recently made my annual appointment at my dealer to have snow tires mounted and balanced on my 2013 Kia Soul. At the time I made the appointment, the service guy strongly - almost aggressively - recommended I have an alignment done at the same time for an additional $89, even though I haven’t noticed any alignment problems. He cited our bad Syracuse winter weather. The car has less than 26k miles on it - is it truly advisable to do periodic alignments even if you haven’t noticed any problems with it, or is the dealer just looking to make another 89 bucks?

My wife’s Nissan had only alignment in 165,000 miles and 18 years of use. If the tires are not wearing unevenly, you don’t need an alignment. If you are having front end work done you need an alignment of course.

There are many states with worse driving conditions that yours. Alignments are big money makers for dealers.

I grew up north of syracuse and went to college at SU. It’s the spring that really does havoc on alignments due to pot-holes. The number of potholes seem to be proportional to the amount of snow an area gets. Since Syracuse is the snowiest city in the us…they get a lot of potholes.

I moved to NH 30+ years ago…and I still get an alignment every year…usually before summer. And 90% of the time…my vehicles are out of alignment.

BTW…there are a lot of very good tire places in Syracuse. The dealer is the last place I’d buy tires from. Kost tire is pretty good…and if your in Liverpool - Hirams is also very good.

PS - You the Sally from the song.

You’ll probably have many people here saying not to get an alignment unless you have uneven tire wear. However, I’ll point out that once you have uneven tire wear, your tires might become quite noisy and they might end up needing to be replaced earlier than they otherwise would have. I do an alignment with each new set of tires, which is around 30,000 miles and 2.5 years for me, regardless of the wear pattern on the old tires.

I am one that will say avoid the alignment. The factory alignments are better than you can get on an alignment rack and as long as nothing has knocked it out, it is best to leave it alone. If your tires are wearing evenly, leave it be.

Another reason I advise against an unnecessary alignment is that the alignment racks need to be calibrated periodically because they get out of alignment. If the alignment equipment is out of alignment, then your vehicle will be out of alignment when they get done. I have several experiences with an alignment going from good to bad. I had one car put on two different racks in two days and got very different results. Considering that the OEM tires lasted 60k with even wear, it never needed to be aligned in th first place, but my daughter fell prey to an aggressive salesman.

You need to think back about any potholes, rough railroad tracks, or curb strikes. It’s quite possible for a car to be out of alignment for those reasons.

It’s also possible for the alignment to be out due to suspension settling in or errors at the factory and alignment issues are not always noticeable.

You should know that we’ve had lengthy debates on this subject, both sides have included knowledgeable people who presented solid arguments, both side have linked in presentations from reputable sources… and no total agreement has ever been reached.

Everyone agrees that you need a good 4-wheel alignment if work has been done or the tires show uneven wear, but beyond that it’s largely a matter of gut feel.

Personally, if my tires are wearing properly and the car feels good, I won’t let anyone touch the alignment… many will just be looking for more work to do, and I’m very wary of anybody looking at my car with that agenda… but I get it aligned every few years for free anyway.

Bottom line: expect both sides of the argument to ensue. Then you’ll have to make your own decision. Sorry.

$89 for an alignment seems pretty reasonable. The weather was mentioned b/c a snow covered road will hide massive potholes, and when you hit those potholes a speed, especially if you happen to be turning at the time, once incident like can deform some suspension part and zap your alignment.

If the nature of your driving is such that you don’t run over potholes, or if you do, only at slow speed, then you’ll probably ok skipping the alignment. But if you find yourself frequently encountering brutal potholes, may advice is to go for the alignment.

Potholes like that aren’t much of a problem here in San Jose, but when I lived in Colorado I encountered them frequently. There was one really big one at the bottom of a freeway off ramp, I hit the pothole and my hubcap flew off. So I parked the car and went back to get it. Someone before me had piled up a stack of about 150 hubcaps in a big pile, waiting for their owners to come claim them.

the dealer principle isn’t going to be buying a new plane or yacht from the $89.00 GROSS profit that is being charged to you, especially after he pays the technician who performed the alignment, the service advisor who looked after your car and contacted you through the whole operation, the lot attendant who valeted your car, the cashier who invoiced your ticket, the free coffee he gave away in his customer lounge, the free car wash that you got, the follow up phone call to find out how satisfied you were with your whole experience, and possibly the loaner car he provided to you while your car was in for the alignment. All told, that’s quite a bargain.

I used to have ti done routinely but haven’t had one for a long time but I keep an eye on the tire wear. So up to you I guess depending on the roads you travel. My one car has over 100K and I’ve never done an alignment on it but used mainly on good roads.

At the time I made the appointment, the service guy strongly - almost aggressively - recommended I have an alignment done...

I’d look for another shop to do the job.