Was Alignment Necessary?

I took my 18’ Kia Sorento in for a 15K service. My alignment was very slightly out of spec but the service adviser suggested I have it corrected. $90 later and I’m wondering if it really was?
My Alignment Report listed the only angles out of spec as the Rear Left Camber at -1.6 (-1.5 to -.5) and Rear Left Toe at -.05 (0 to 0.2). Opinions?

$90 is a lot cheaper than the premature tire wear the misalignment would cause.


Cars cost money. Sure you could have probably let it go, but safety and tire wear make it an inexpensive part of maintenance,


Those readings indicate you would have had some funny tire wear. Better to correct it and have proper wear and handling.

Funny thing about alignments, they’re only guaranteed to the driveway. Meaning we guarantee your car is properly aligned when it leaves the premises. You can bang a pothole on your way home and the car is out of specifications again.


It was probably that way coming off of the transport but yeah, best to get it done before tires wear.

On my 86 Park Ave I had a rear tire wear to just about an octagon shape in less than 30,000 miles. The tire guys claimed transporting chains can pull it out of alignment. I didn’t really believe it but after the alignment and a couple new tires I never had a problem again.

Someone else might have a different perspective, but my thought is that the specs are there for a reason. If -1.6 were OK, then the spec range would not stop at -1.5.

A $90 alignment is a lot cheaper than new tires.

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Thank you all for your responses. A little more as to why I second guessed the expense. My last car, a 05’ Acura MDX, had a misalignment in the camber that actually couldn’t be corrected without additional hardware being installed. Regular tire rotation mostly compensated for this. At least enough to offset the cost of installing the kit vs. small increased frequency of tire replacement. My takeaway from that is that alignment is somewhat specific to the car when it comes off the line. My new Kia might bump back out of alignment in a similar fashion very easily, time will tell.
Also, I work in manufacturing so I’m always looking at specs. There are spec limits and control limits. Spec limits are tighter and I speculate the limits the alignment report operate off of would be more like those. So, I think that you still have some leeway when you are very close to the prescribed limits. There is no perfect alignment, there’s a range.
I guess I’m just feeling a little buyers remorse after taking my car to the dealership for service. I’m always hesitant to do that and am on guard for extra services. Thanks all!

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My alignment shop is not happy with within limits, they go to center of specs,just a thought.

One more thing to think about. Even if “just a little” out of spec may be alright, as the suspension ages, a even a short amount it will possibly go out more as driving can change it. Better to start from good to worse, than worse to worser.

Since you work in manufacturing and are familiar with tolerances, you may want to consider that the published alignment values are wide enough to allow most vehicles to pass through the manufacturing plant without needing additional work - and then the warranty claims would also be reduced.

As a tire engineer, I became aware that the alignment tolerances didn’t always result in good tire wear. My research said the tolerances ought to have been half of what was published.

Additionally, I discovered that any camber over 1 degree could result in one sided wear and irregular wear - and the amount to toe was a multiplier to the affect. Sure camber helps with the way the car corners, but it does that by sacrificing tire wear.

Your Kia allows over 1 degree of camber within the allowable tolerance and that - IMHO - is going to cause some tire wear issues. The toe being outside the tolerance just aggravates the issue.

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Yes, design limits are usually different from published limits. That 30t bridge can, almost guaranteed, support more than 30t.

The trouble comes when you take it upon yourself to guess as to how far apart those two numbers are, and you guess wrong.

The alignment thing isn’t quite as dangerous (though it can nonetheless be dangerous) but when you think about the relationship between the tires and alignment, anything short of perfect is going to cause uneven wear. The question is how much wear is acceptable/will not become a problem before the end of the tire’s natural life.

It probably will. My wife’s Hyundai gets knocked out of alignment by potholes much more readily than my Acura. But then, it also cost half as much new.

Your response helps a lot. That’s what I was really wondering, how tight should the tolerances be. It sounds like I made the right decision on the alignment. I guess it goes to show how important regular tire rotation is if you can expect irregular tire wear when your alignment is still in spec. Thank you!
I have a couple other questions for you,
How frequently do you recommend having alignment checked? I’ve seen some varied recommendations.
My manual suggests the tires be inflated to 34psi. My TPMS shows that the dealership inflated the tires to 36/37 after my service yesterday. Is there a justifiable reason they did this?

Couple of possibilities: The TPMS readout is slightly inaccurate, the dealership’s pressure gauge is slightly inaccurate, or you looked at the reading after you’d been driving a bit.

Tire pressure goes up a couple-three pounds as the tires heat up. The manual is specifying the cold inflation pressure - it’s known and accounted for that the pressure will rise as you drive.

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Sorry, outside my area of expertise.

Higher pressures tend to slow down the wear rate. Plus, at the dealership, they might overinflate a bit to compensate for ambient temperature variations.

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UHHH, OHHH. That bring up memories from when I was a truck driver in England and I had to go from south of the Thames up - I believe - to the Birmingham area. At least I had to cross the river northbound. I got some directions from the customer south as my maps and my knowledge of London was - not good.
Got going through London and all was fine, Found the sign - M1. Yep, all is good.
Came to the bridge - Blackfriars bridge - and smiled and all was good. 30 feet after entering the bridge itself, small sign in left lane stating: NO VEHICLES OVER 6 TONS. That Volvo F12 had never stopped so fast before. I was well above 25 tons.
I managed to flag down a “bobby” car and ask them what to do as reversing was not an option at that time of the day.
He gave me his opinion of my action in some very uncertain words and told me to get over that fr… bridge - NOW, before the que behind me got all the way to dover.
I was sweating like a turkey just before thanksgiving before I got over.


Factory alignments are generally superior to the alignment you would get from the dealer or independent shop. The factories have a calibration program that the strictly adhere to. Shops, not so much. If the service writer told me I needed an alignment, I would ask to see their calibration schedule.

Before accepting the rear camber specs, I’d make sure I wasn’t carrying anything over 50 lbs in the trunk. If you have an independent rear suspension, and I suspect you do, extra weight in the trunk causes the camber to shift.

However if do have this weight in the trunk and you almost always have it there, then aligning to the extra weight is a good idea to reduce tire wear.

I think that $90 was money well spent. You’ll get that investment back and then some with reduced tire wear I expect. And it will insure the car’s suspension performs correctly in case of the need for emergency stops or turns are ever required, a little extra safety insurance.

I just remembered something. Alignments are usually covered under warranty for some period of time, generally one year. You should probably check the warranty booklet for how long the alignment is covered and if you are in the covered period, the dealer should refund your cost.

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I didn’t know that! I just checked and alignment is covered for 12 months/12K miles. I’m under 12 months but I’m at 15K miles. Thank you

@anon86613489 my understanding is that usually there is a stress factor built in of 2 1/2 to 3 but that at best would be 18 not 25. So do you go fast or slow like in the movies with the bridge creeping all the way? I prefer fast.

Driving in London was a terrifying experience for me, driving on Th wrong side and the round a bouts. I was happy to get to the hotel and didn’t want to leave.

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