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Old 07-30-2001, 02:33 PM   #1
Heartbeat - '95 SL2
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1995 SL2
Default Alignment/suspension questions

I've been looking for a shop which can do a proper alignment on my car, as the dealership near me does not have a rack. I think I've found a competent mechanic, the one to which the dealership farms work out. But before I showed up, wanted to be ready in case he tries to "up and extra" me (the price he quoted is already much higher than normal, almost as much as dealers charge).

1. A lot of advertisements say "$49.95, *shims extra*. Saturn S cars do not have shims, due to the camber being adjusted at the strut bolt, correct? Shims were used on the older cars which had shocks and lower control arms?

2. When I talked to the mechanic, he said he has had a problem getting the right-front wheel of S cars into the negative camber range, and usually has to slot out the strut bolt hole more, which would cost $40 over the $92 alignment price. Plus, he said sometimes setting camber is a problem, which requires slotting of the upper strut tower holes (the dealership I originally went to had done this to one tower, without telling me first).

I thought it sounded like this guy knew Saturns well, and would do a proper job, albeit not an easy one. Does this sound legit to you?

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Old 07-30-2001, 03:41 PM   #2
dieseljack
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Heartbeat:

Alignment is necessary to correct a) excessive tire wear, b) pulling to the left or right, c) improper vehicle tracking, or d) help a service writer make his/her monthly bonus. If the car handles well and shows no undue tire wear, save your money. Haven't touched mine in six and a half years, and in that time there were a few potholes that felt as though they were half way to Brazil.

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Old 07-30-2001, 09:26 PM   #3
sattech
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In answer to your question, yes it sounds legit.
BUT, I fully agree with Jack. Rarely do we perform alignments at our facility. A maint. align is not necessary-even in Boston(city of potholes).

...
~ If it worked before you messed with it, it must be something you did ~

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Old 07-31-2001, 02:04 AM   #4
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Sounds o.k. to me, but I think he might be just warning you of some "worst case scenarios". I managed -1.6 degrees camber on all 4 corners with the stock struts without firing up the die grinder. With the new KYB's, I'm running a bit more negative than that without any hole enlarging (which has nothing to do with your situation--just thought you might like to know). The mechanic may be just mentioning it to cover his rear end--but I'd be suspicious if he decides to charge anything extra.

And, you're right, shims are for cars WITHOUT the "2 bolt" rear spindle design. So you're fine there.

Good luck!

-Newt

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Old 08-01-2001, 02:37 AM   #5
Heartbeat - '95 SL2
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Thanks for the replies! Yes, I do want to get an alignment -- I had new tires put on 5k miles ago, and the old ones had worn out on the outter edges. Saturn did an alignment, twice, but still did not get it right. The car doesn't pull hard, but it has a left tendency, i.e. I can take a gradual left curve with no steering input. Also, the left front tire's outter edge is wearing faster than the right (the little "new tire nubs" are gone), suggesting more positive camber on the left, which would explain in part the left tendency.

Once I get a decent alignment, I don't plan on doing another unless there's an indication of a problem. Small change in plan though. The place I mentioned above is a body shop, so other than the alignment, I wouldn't go back there regularly. He was charging almost as much as Saturn, so it was kind of a ripoff (which may explain why Sattech doesn't see too many come in!). A while ago, I went looking for a nice mom n pop shop, and found one that was getting a brand new alignment machine. Unfortunately, it took so long for them to get it installed and calibrated, that I was no longer free during the days M-F when they're open. So I've put off the alignment for 5k miles, and now want to get it done before I rotate the tires. Turns out this place will give me a ride to work, and pick me up! Heck, if I'd known this, I would have done this long ago, when I was temping at a company just a mile away! They only charge $50, and if I like the shop, I'm hoping to use them for any basic work I need done as long as the labor isn't as much as Saturn.

I plan on giving them the specs I want the car aligned to, and if they have any problems doing it, to give me a call. I'll post the conclusion here, so hopefully I'll have a car which drives straight, and maybe handles a little better with -1.25 camber. This all goes back to the alignment threads a few months ago, so thanks again for the specs!

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