[ My apologies about this long-ish story … I hope it’s a quick read. ]
::: “Reader’s Digest” version :::
The dealer’s mechanic says it’s okay to adjust the rear alignment if the bushing bolts are seized. What he did was use a torque wrench to muscle the bolt in place, then lock it in.
My guess is the vehicle quickly will get out of alignment since the wheel is aligned under stress.
::: Long version :::
We recently purchased a used vehicle: 2006 Pontiac Vibe AWD <100,000 KM (62,000 miles). The purchase agreement was to put the vehicle in alignment.
On the day of purchase, the vehicle had not been aligned so it was done while my wife waited to finalize the transaction. The alignment report (see attachment - dealer.pdf) shows the before and after. Their mechanic said to fix the rear alignment, he removed the four winter wheels in the back.
The vehicle was purchased and a few days later my son noticed the vehicle was pulling. We took it to our mechanic and they noted both rear alignment bolts are seized in the bushing. They worked on the left rear wheel: heat, penetrating oil, double-nut + impact tool, etc. It remained seized. They told us to repair it, they’d have to cut off the bolts, get new bushings, etc etc. Big bucks! Attached is their alignment report - see our-mechanics.pdf
As our original agreement was with the dealer to have it aligned, we took it back to the dealer for the repair. We were suspicious about how they originally got the vehicle in alignment though.
The dealer agreed to let me watch the alignment process. The mechanic was able to adjust the rear left wheel (I believe the work our mechanics did on that wheel eventually paid off and the bolt finally gave). The right rear wheel’s bolt remained seized.
While I was observing, the dealer’s mechanic also tried: heat, double-nut + impact tool, air ratchet. It didn’t work. Prior to this, he told me he could try to put the wheel into alignment by using a long torque bar and locking the wheel in place. I told him I didn’t like this idea because that seemed to be a lot of stress on the system. I also told him it seems it’d be easy for the vehicle to get out of alignment again. Also, when he showed me how he would do it, I could see the rear right of the vehicle lifting!
While he continued to wrestle with the problem, he finally said we have to cut out the bolt, order new parts, etc. He talked to the parts person and they were on the way to ordering parts.
I went to chat with my wife about what was going on and that’s when things went sideways.
The manager talked with us, then went and spoke to his mechanic for 30-45 minutes. The manager comes back and says, the vehicle is now aligned. Hmm. Let me show you.
We go to the bay and the mechanic stated he used ‘the stress method’ to put the wheel in alignment. That is, using a long bar, he turned the bushing bolt, got the wheel to align and locked it in.
I’m thinking that’s how the original alignment was done and that’s why after a couple of days it became out of alignment again.
Am I right to be nervous about this method of putting a wheel in alignment? What possible issues can arise from putting putting a wheel into alignment in this way?