Should I get tires or alignment first?

Due to repairs I have made to my van, my front end is out of whack. My new tires are just about totally worn out on the inside after 6 weeks. More on that in a moment since it’s actually not so relevant but some will want details.

I will need to buy 2 new tires and have an alignment done at different shops. Should I get the tires first and drive the van to the alignment shop or should I get the alignment done first?

My arguments are:

Alignment first because the tires are so worn. Driving the van from the tire shop to the alignment shop will start to wear the new tires immediately.

Tires first because the alignment is not only to the geometry of the van, but also to the tires. If I have the alignment done with the old tires, then the wear will affect the outcome of the alignment job.

I guess this is more of an automotive chicken and egg and might not make any real difference but it is something I have wondered for some time and is more pressing right now.

Now for those that want details on which to base their decision:

It is a 1991 Plymouth Grand Voyager. Replaced the tie rods last year and had an alignment done, was perfect after that. But I noticed the control arm bushings were soft and the ball joint boots were torn. Replaced the bushings and it most likely just changed the camber from what was done previously. The ball joints didn’t have any slop but because the grease was getting out, figured it was better to go ahead and replace them after nearly 20 years.

I knew I would need the alignment, I just didn’t count on this much change to my alignment from replacing these parts.

You Provided Lots Of Details, But Left Out An Important One.

It is most desirable to have the alignment done with fresh tires, properly inflated.
I’d get the tires and immediately have the alignment done . . . unless the alignment shop is 100 miles away.

That’s what you left out. How far will you be driving between getting tires and getting an alignment?

And another detail was missed. You wore tires out in 6 weeks, but the information needed here is not the number of weeks, but the distance driven on those tires.

I’m curious. How many more miles or years are you planning on running this 91 Grand Voyager?

When I was working on cars, I liked to see the tires that had been on the car I was aligning, as additional information/confirmation of what I was seeing from the measurements. However, extreme uneven wear tends to push the suspension out of shape, so you have to compensate for that a bit when setting the camber.

I agree with CSA, with such extreme wear I wouldn’t want to align with old tires. Go straight from tire shop to alignment shop.

Don’t all tire shops provide alignment services as well? Unless you have a preferred alignment expert (as I do) have both jobs done in the same place.

No, all tire shops do not have alignment services. For example, Sam’s Club.

I put about 85 miles a day on my van. I guess that would work out to about 4,000-5,000 miles on these tires. I do tend to wear out my front tires faster because it’s a newspaper route vehicle, but it’s usually pretty even wear across the tread.

The distance from the tire place to the alignment shop is about 10 miles, if it were an extreme distance of 100 miles or more, I would just get the tires at the alignment place. They just charge much more for installation and then charge extra for rotation and again for balancing every 5,000 miles. Works out to about $30 each time, which over the life of the tires is more than enough to buy a new set. I can keep the old tires to take to the alignment shop so they can see what was wrong and then give them the state tire disposal fee to dump them.

As for how long I plan to keep this ‘gem’ of a vehicle, the engine and transmission are actually newer with only about 40,000 miles on each so I intend to keep it until one of them quits. Replacing suspension parts every now and then (or most other parts for that matter) still works out to less than what a monthly car payment would be.

Tires First. It makes a difference on the alignment rack…