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Shouldn’t an alignment fix a shimmy?

I just had an alignment on my 2014 Toyota Tacoma due to a “shimmy” at high speeds. after it was done, my attendant let me know that the shimmy may not be gone…Really? Isn’t that what an alignment is for? Could this be true? Shouldn’t the alignment have fixed my issue? Thoughts?

Depends on what is causing the shimmy. Unbalanced tires, bent rim, out of round rim, bubble or defect on tire etc can cause it. An alignment makes the tires straight to specs, but does not balance the tires, however a competent alignment shop should have caught any of these. They obviously found something as they warned you the shimmy might still be there. But at least your tires are rolling straight now.


An alignment won’t fix worn front end parts either.


The solution for a wheel “shimmy” usually wouldn’t be an alignment as the first thing to try. But if you know you need an alignment anyway, makes sense to have that done before figuring out what’s causing the shimmy. It’s a really common thing for a wheel weight to fall off, and an unbalanced wheels is a frequent cause of shimmies. Sometimes the tire will slip & rotate w/respect to he wheel too, resulting in an unbalanced wheel/tire combination.

Our terminology is maybe different. To me a shimmy has always meant a wobble or shake in the front end from the tires oscillating. Worn parts allowing front end play. A vibration to me is more due to a tire balance or bent rim issue. A shimmy could cause loss of control but a vibration would just be irritating. Several times I’ve had my car in for an alignment and they said it couldn’t be aligned until parts like the ball joints were replaced, because it wouldn’t stay in alignment.

Did you ask the person why they thought you might still have a problem ?

This makes me think of some of the jobs I have run into. People only want to spend a certain amount of money and “know” what the problem is so would pay me to fix only that issue. I deal with computers and all but do work for plenty of auto mechanics and the stories are all the same. I no longer take on these types of jobs but this story sure brings back memories. I have had people tell me to only spend a certain amount of money fixing a problem and to stop if it isn’t fixed after that much is spent. I can only see something like this being the reason for a fix like this. Again, I will no longer take on this type of job because the people want to spend the least but demand a complete fix. No competent shop would do an alignment and leave the original complaint un-addressed if they had a willing paying customer.

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Nope. An alignment makes sure the wheels are all pointed in the proper direction (toe), tilted in/out (camber) properly, tilted forward/back (caster) properly, and in your case that the rear wheels are pushing the car forward squarely. None of this will cause or fix a vibration or shimmy at speed.

The shop I work at has a reputation as a “go-to” shop for alignment and steering/suspension work. When I’m writing up a customer for an alignment, the first thing I ask is “what brings you in for an alignment?” When I’m told that the complaint is a steering wheel shimmy, I change the appointment from alignment service to “road test for shimmy/vibration, inspect and advise” and explain to the customer that a simple alignment will not fix the complaint.

When we do an alignment, we first road test the car while feeling/listening for any abnormalities, then we raise the car and “shake down” the chassis, tires, any rotating parts and recommend replacement of any worn parts before proceeding. I would like to think other shops do the same, but based on the fact that our alignments cost twice as much and take twice as long as the competition I know they don’t.

For your complaint I would be looking at tire balance, irregular wear, worn shock absorbers, possible driveline or axle shaft issues, wheel bearings, suspension components, or possibly brakes.


When a repair order reads “Customer requests four wheel alignment” I get suspicious, I road test the vehicle before and after the alignment and in most cases there is a tire pull so I have to bring the vehicle in again to rotate the tires.

Years ago I was having a beer in the alley with some neighbors, one stated that they were going to have their vehicle aligned because the vehicle pulled and had a violent vibration. I took a step back to look at the vehicle and said to the owner the right front tire is separated, I can see the bulge in the tread. His response was “it is out of alignment, I know what a bad alignment feels like!”. Sometimes you have to go though the process, align the car and then show them what the problem is.

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A mis aligned car will not necessarily shimmy.


And a shimmy doesn’t mean there is a misalignment.


You have to love customers like this. The problem is obvious but they often want the cheaper fix thinking that is what it is. Then they blame you for doing a bad job when the fix you do doesn’t fix the problem even when you told them it was a more expensive fix (new tire) vs a cheaper alignment. They then demand that problem fixed for free since you “missed” it.