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When to pay for alignment & ? value of 'lifetime' alignment

alignment measurements =

left alignment = 0.09 (nl range 0.08-0.25)

right alignment = -0.11 (0.08-0.25)



after 5 mos / 6K miles of wear on 4 new Michelin tires, left front tire outer = 9mm, inner = 8mm

right front = 8,9

right rear = 7,8

left rear = 7,8



2003 Passat w/46K miles, plan to drive until it becomes unreliable. never had alignment done. got 40K miles out of factory tires before replacement with above Michelins. have lived on side street w/potholes for last 1.5 years and likely to live on this street for many more years.



Firestone wants $75 for onetime alignment and $140 for ‘lifetime of car’ alignments. Family needs a good quality sleeping bag for camping; can’t have both – soo…



Is it worth it to pay for alignment or just plan to get fewer miles out the next set or two of tires? Is it worth it to pay extra to be able to get tires aligned as much as I want for the life of the car?



Many thanks, in advance!!

What is a life-time alignment? whose life-time? after any alignment if drive into one deep pothole you could need another alignment…Are you rotating tires every 5-7K miles? 40K out of original tires is good.

Don’t pay for two alignments when you only need one. If you go for the “lifetime” alignment you are locked in to this tire store, and you may want to go somewhere else in the future.

Wheel alignment is very important, and not just for tire wear.

Yes, tires rotated regularly, generally at 10K intervals historically, but I now understand to do it more frequently.

When you say, “…not just for tire wear.” for what else is it important? (obviously if it’s extreme, the car will not steer properly…)

I have seen the “hit one pothole and you need a alignment” repeated many times and in many different Forums, the problem for me is I just dont see the mechanism.

You can bet the main motivation behind the lifetime alignment (besides the inital high cost) is that now they have you locked into returning on something like a schedule and you can bet they will find things that you car “needs”, alignment related or not. I cannot say having your car routinely inspected is a bad thing but be prepered for a sales job stressing the need for a certain repair and the dire consequences if you don’t get the “repair”.

“hit one pothole and you need a alignment”

Here in DC we have potholes with Smart Cars sitting in the bottom. I myself once hit a crater that immediately knocked my steering wheel off center and greatly increased tire noise. I didn’t see it because it was full of water. Probably had a submarine in there. I stopped to see if the wheels were visibly akimbo. They weren’t. My next drive after that errand was to the alignment shop. The toe was 3X out of spec.

“When you say, “…not just for tire wear.” for what else is it important?”

If you drive on a slippery road with badly aligned wheels you could be on the verge of skidding even though you’re driving in a straight line because your tires are trying to roll in different directions.

Wheel alignment contributes (positively or negatively) to tire wear, fuel mileage, and mechanical issues with the steering system. Wheel alignment out of spec may affect the vehicle’s handling properties.

You bought a Passat. I have to assume you liked the way it drove and handled. If you want it to continue to drive and handle as it should you need to make sure the wheel alignment is correct.

I would be afraid they will say, you need struts or lifetime deal is done then you need new sway bar or lifetime deal will be done.
If it starts pulling or you get uneven tire wear you will need relinement its part of owning a car.
I would raise hell with city or county to fix pot holes, or get gravel and fix your self.

So your feeling is a component got bent? which one?

I’m of the opinion an alignment should be done about every 40-50k miles or even more often if a problem is suspected. A good alignment tech should also inspect suspension components.
This prevents the car owner from suffering a failed ball joint, etc. which can mean stranded on the side of the road with serious damage at the least or being hauled off to the morgue at the worst.

One good pothole can knock the alignment out. Year before last on the local news here they did a story one night about some potholes in south Ok. City.
One of those potholes was cracking wheels and breaking suspension components so you can imagine what was happening with the alignment.
They finally fixed that one when a girl’s Saturn I think it was went in wheel first and didn’t come out.