CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Shim kit for Mazda MPV alignment

My dealer recently told me that I need to have my 2004 aligned. “Unfortunately” the rear tires require a $700 shim kit to do this…sounds like a scam to me but wanted to see if it is legit. The car drives straight when the wheel is not held (it doesn’t drift to either side of the road) and the tires are not wearing in a pattern that would suggest alignment is needed. Truely, my issue is not the alignment so much as it is the $700 shim kit for a $100 job…

Call and talk to an independent shop that does alignments and ask them. I can tell you my 01 MPV did not require a kit like that; don’t know what they did in 2004 that might require one. In any case, the cost of such a kit is probably cheaper at an independent alignment specialist vs the dealer.

Has your dealer actually put the van on the alignment rack, and determined that the rear alignment settings are actually out of spec? If so, ask them for the alignment sheet, and post up the current settings of your rear suspension.

Unless the dealer actually measured the current settings, there’s no way they know that the van is in need of a camber/caster kit in order to put the rear suspension back into spec.

Take your van to a different shop that can check the alignment, and get a second opinion. Don’t tell them what your dealer said, just ask them for the current specs.

BC.

The $700 is a scam. Those shims used to cost $20 when I needed them installed. Anything you can hit with a hammer usually doesn’t cost $700. Tapping with a hammer and tightening isn’t too technical a job.

It possible to shim the rear to adjust the alignment but $700 sound way out of line. I would be interested to know what the rear alignment readings are?

If the alignment is out of specs they should first check the suspension for bent or damaged parts. The rear suspension is a solid axle with spindles bolted to a flange, if the alignment is way out of specs then most likely there is a bent part. If the readings are only slightly out of specs and the tires are wearing fine then I would just skip the rear adjustment shims.