Wheel alignment

Didn’t notice any misalignment on car with old tires. After new tires were installed a pull to the right occurred. Took it to the tire place where front tires were rotated left switched with right. Pull to the right continued. I have two questions. 1. Why was there no hint of misalignment before new tire installation? 2. Should wheels be aligned now?

This is actually very common when you rotate. I would opt for the lifetime alignment deal if they offer one at the place where you get the tires rotated. Then they’ll check it every time.

Anytime new tires are installed an alignment should be performed.

First, you don’t want to void your new tire warranty if the tires wear out prematurely because the vehicle is out of alignment. And second, for the reason you just described.


My guess is there was an existing problem that was just magnified by the new tires and made it noticeable.

Technical answer: Your old tires had conicity such that it balanced the alignment issue. Your new tires don’t, so the alignment issue comes out.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a control arm bushing was failing. Sometimes the rubber bushings deteriorate and raising the vehicle shakes them up enough to make the weak condition noticeable.

Um…what year is this and how many miles does it have on it?

I’d suggests you have the chassis checked out and have a good 4-wheel alignment done. If these actions don’t resolve the issue, you could have a dragging brake pad or a tire with an internal problem A Road Force Balancing should detect that.

Post back with the results of the checkout and alignment. If the problem still exists, we’ll go from there. If not, it would be nice to know it’s fixed. We do care.

When you bought the new tires, did the shop do an alignment?

This is one of the very few things that I disagree with Tester on. I do not recommend an alignment when new tires are put on unless there is a problem with the wear pattern of the old tires or you are having driving problems such as drifting or pulling. I will not even allow the tire store to put my car on the rack for a “free alignment inspection”.

But in your case, you are having a problem so I would suggest that you have an alignment done. Ask around for who in your area does the best alignments and go to them. That may or may not be the place that you bought the tires from.

Before having the alignment done though, first check the tires to make sure they are the same (correct) size, check the rear tires as well. Check the air pressure with a gauge to make sure that they are within a pound of each other at each end of the vehicle and at least the tire pressure specified on the placard located in either your glove box or drivers side door frame.

Next, have someone else drive the van and you follow in another vehicle to see of the van crabs (or doglegs) going down the road. This is where the rear tires are following a track that is offset from the front tires. All vehicles do this a little, but if it really catches your attention, you need to get it fixed and the problem will be in the rear suspension, not the front.

Then have a good front end mechanic check your suspension for worn components such as ball joints, struts, tie rod ends etc. No use getting an alignment if you have excessively worn components. Also, I don’t believe that your vehicle needs a 4 wheel alignment, just a front end alignment. Vehicles with independent rear suspensions need the 4 wheel alignment and I don’t think your van is one of these.

I have great respect for Tester but my philosophy on alignments is more like Keith’s. However, I also monitor the wear on my tires and the condition of my car obsessively.

However, anytime you’re having any handling anomlies it should always be investigated regardless of whether or not you’ve just gotten tires. I see our function here as just recommending what to have checked and to encourage you to do so.

I have had tire shops where tires have been installed drive the car on an alignment rack that gives a reading of toe-in, caster and camber. Unless an alignment is needed, there is no charge for the service.

Triedaq, I have seen to many of those shops whose alignment rack is out of adjustment. Took one car to two different locations of the same chain a day apart and got radically different readings. I don’t trust them.

All the modern alignment equipment is digital and works great when it is set up and calibrated correctly and operated by an experienced mechanic but all too often shops neglect the equipment and give a young man the orientation on the equipment and hope for the best. For years I aligned light and medium duty trucks with a set of bubble gauges and a toe in bar on the shop floor when front end repairs were made. Alignment isn’t rocket science but the new equipment makes it look like it is. Watching an old road grader operate helps make sense of the angles.

@keith–I hear you. I bought two tires at a national tire chain shop because a musician friend had lost his job as a minister of music at a church and picked up a job selling tires. I needed two front tires on my Uplander, so I bought them from him so he would get a commission. At any rate, the technician said that the front was fine, but the right rear wheel was out and it would take a shim kit to repair it. I didn’t have the national tire chain make the repair, but instead took the Uplander to an independent tire store that I trust for a 4 wheel alignment. I don’t think they had to put in a shim kit. At any rate, the charge for the alignment was under $100.
The right rear tire did not show any unusual wear prior to the alignment.