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Replaced front end, but

I brought my 2001 4runner to a mechanic for brakes and tires. I was told the front passenger brakes were worn down 1/4” more than the other brakes. When I asked what would cause that, he said “I don’t know what would cause that…”
(Sorry, this may be a lengthy post)
Fast forward: After tires and brake job, my car was noticably shaking, blah, blah, blah.
Went to a different mechanic an ( after reading many posts on this site) asked for a front end inspection.
All is well, I was told.
Less than 2 months later, the wobble, shake, bumps were bad enough that to set off the VSC warning.
I parked it, refusing to drive it until it was taken to a real mechanic. ( My usual Toyota mechanic of many years moved to another state).
So, my boyfriend who isn’t at all an idiot, got a flat tire, hopped into my 4Runner… A few miles down the highway Bam! Front passenger tire flew right off.

$2280 later, I have a new front end. Took it to a highly recommended, certified Toyota shop.
Now for the point of my post.

  1. Should I be concerned about uneven brake wear?
  2. Why was I told my front end was ok after having it inspected? When it obviously was NOT ok.
  3. After paying over 2k for new ball bearings, tie rods, or whatever is part of a front end replacement, is it sop for the shop to not do an alignment?

Because although I am no longer terrified to drive, the need for an alignment is clear, but the shop said one isn’t part of their service with the front end work they did.

Sorry for my lack of correct terms and knowledge. I’m a woman driver…
Thank you in advance for any and all information and advice.

If they used identical replacement tie rods and threaded them the same number of turns you don’t need an alignment.

However, if your car hasn’t had one for years or extended number of miles it probably should have been done.

Are you saying your boyfriend was driving your car on a flat tire? If yes, maybe your prior sentence is questionable.

His Tacoma had a flat tire, so he decided to use my 4Runner, knowing there was a problem.

I’ll call the shop and ask about the tie rods. Just seemed to me an alignment should have been included.

Thank you for your reply.

Most shops don’t have alignment equipment, so you need to take it to one that does.

Was it just the tire that came off, or did the entire wheel come off? The former indicates a defective tire while the latter indicates the shop that did the brakes failed to tighten the lug nuts (or tightened them too much).

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I disagree with that statement

I replace lots of tie rods, and replace factory parts with factory parts

I count the turns

And the vehicles NEED an alignment

Do it your way if you like

you may be right theoretically . . . on paper . . . but in the real world, you’re mistaken

I’ve had vehicles in the shop that are wearing the tires perfectly, and the tires have some miles on them. Straight steering wheel, no pulling, no wandering, etc.

And the tie rod ends are worn out, excessive play, as an example

I replace them with factory parts, count turns, etc., then send the truck to our contracted alignment shop

The before and after printout tells the story. I have no reason to believe the guys are lying

The steering alignment was necessary


I would vote for an alignment, if it was out of alignment to begin with that is where it ended up. Your question is a good one, my guess an un diagnosed wheel bearing failure caused the major catastrophe, thinking tire includes wheel

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I agree with db, counting turns doesn’t mean it’s still aligned. As careful as I have been, an alignment was still necessary. The uneven brake wear could just be from a sticky caliper. I hope they greased the pins when they did the brakes, otherwise it may need pads again sooner than usual. I’m not clear why the wheel fell off. Were the lug nuts not tightened or was there other front end problems that were undetected?

I’m hesitant to weigh in on this one. “Replaced front end” is a pretty broad statement and infers that everything was replaced.

Some or all; any car needs to go on the alignment rack after front end work.

As for the passenger front brakes being worn down I’m surprised the guy doesn’t have a clue what would cause that.
Sticking brake caliper, caliper sticking on the slides, collapsed brake hose, etc. are some of the possibilities.

I’m curious about why the wheel came off. Loose lugs finally catching up to it or a broken ball joint?

could you list what they replaced on the NEW front end job?
you do have a receipt?

I have had uneven brake pad wear on a Toyota Highlander (similar to the 4Runner). It was caused by a frozen caliper and I have seen it before on other Toyota vehicles. A Supra a Celica and a Lexus IS 350. A clue to the problem is more brake dust on one wheel than on the other side.I can’t speculate on why your tire came off, but the two usual reasons are lug nuts were loose or there was a suspension/linkage failure as everyone above is lsting. 17-year-old SUVs do have their issues…

Sorry, it wasn’t just the tire, the wheel came off because the ball joint was bad. Real bad!
I would think that either the guy that did my brakes or the next shop that did a front end inspection would have noticed bad ball bearings…?
The front end inspection said everything was ok and my tie rods were fine.

Well that’s pretty close to the whole front end. At least you’re back to square one now.

Well, it clearly wasn’t

Sounds like that guy took your money and just drank his morning coffee, rather than giving your vehicle the thorough inspection you paid for. Maybe he didn’t even rack the vehicle. I say that, because worn ball joints aren’t that hard to diagnose. And from the sound of it, your ball joints weren’t just worn, they were SHOT, which is why they actually broke a few months later

If I were you, I’d consider going back to that guy who gave your suspension a clean bill of health and tell him what actually did happen. In fact, show him the receipts from the other shop. He has a right to know that he did a lousy inspection. Whether he cares or not, that’s a different matter entirely.

Something similar happened with my daughter about 7 or 8 years ago. She owned a Mitsubishi Galant that was under a Recall for the ball joints. They inspected the car and said it was fine.

Several months later as she turned a corner (thankfully at slow speed) the left lower ball joint gave way. That led to a tow, a damaged tire and wheel, and a big chunk of Dad’s day.

The Recall stated they were to inspect the ball joint BOOTs and replace the ball joints if the boots had come loose. The boots on her car were in place so out the door it goes. It said nothing about replacing the joints if they were bad. Pretty shoddy way of doing something. And potentially lethal.

I agree with db4690 on all points. You need to let that guy know his negligence could have caused your BF to end up dead. Don’t yell, don’t curse; just be firm in letting them know. Letting others know is not a bad idea either. It may save someone’s life.

That being said, he is extra stupid for passing on a gold mine job. Most mechanics would slash their wrists with a rusty hacksaw blade to be handed a job like this.


Thanks everyone, for your replies. I am going to find yet another mechanic for an alignment. My 4Runner does have some years, and plenty of mileage, but I love it, and do believe it’s good for another year, at least.
I’ll also take my receipt to the guy that supposedly did the inspection. And I’ll do my best to be firm and pleasant.
Thanks again,

Good for you

Don’t expect him to apologize, admit to performing a shoddy inspection, or anything at all

Please let us know the eventual outcome of everything :smile:

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RH wheel speed sensor/wire is $274? Oof. I just got one for my accord for $14. They are 94-150 at rock auto. But, maybe you got a dealer part?

Not to disagree again but like I’ve said before, it’s not my job to explain to vendors why they may be losing business. Even if you tell them, they’ll probably still wonder why they are going out of business when others are flourishing. They just don’t get it. I remember taking back my broken in two crank sensor they had just checked the day before. Cost me a $75 tow and a day of work. The guy just kind of looked at the part and didn’t say much. It was evident the crack had been there a while and anyone looking at it on a lift should have seen it. I’m a loyal guy but don’t remember if that was strike two or three before finding another shop. In other words don’t expect much by taking it back and you sure have no obligation to help them improve their customer service.

Are you saying people shouldn’t even bother to try pointing out somebody’s mistake and/or shoddy work . . . in this case a shoddy inspection

The mechanic should be made aware of the fact that the boyfriend lost the tire due to shot ball joints which weren’t discovered a short time earlier

I try to learn from my mistakes, and improve my practices and habits, so that I don’t make the same mistakes again. I don’t think it’s pointless to go back to the shop that did the shoddy inspection and tell them to their faces, in a civilized manner

Perhaps the lesson learned will be that the shop owner now knows mechanic a does lousy work, and give him a warning, or fire him if he shows no willingness and/or ability to improve. If anything, the shop owner should be relieved that nobody was hurt. If he has any brains, he’ll take steps to ensure he doesn’t find himself in a similar situation again, or even worse

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