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Old 04-11-2009, 03:33 AM   #1
Wyle E Coyote
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Question Collision repair aftermath questions / opinions requested

Well, I finally completed the repairs on my niece's 97 sedan. The car slid off the road in bad weather and bumped a cement barrier with the right front. They had a couple of estimates, and the main pieces that were bad were the right side lower control arm, the cradle, and in one estimate the strut. She needed her car on the road and didn't have the cash to spend at a shop. I'm very handy with a wrench, so I took on the challenge of replacing the bad parts, despite not having alot of experience with front drive cars. I told her in advance that it could become a can of worms and that I may miss something due to not knowing these cars well (I'm a 4x4, muscle car, street rod guy really). She still agreed.

The only problem I had repairing the car was getting the lower control arms back into the cradle with the sway bar. Tried nearly every combonation I could devise, but I ended up using a ratchet strap to pull the arm into the socket on the cradle, and slide the bolt in to hold it. Other than that, everything lined up perfectly. And I must say that it wasn't a difficult repair to make. I was quite impressed with the overall design of the car. Enough room to reach everything (even with my big mitts) and not alot of hidden crap to deal with.

Anyway, now for the reason I am posting this; Today we took the car over to the local tire shop (chain store) for an allignment, battery and to check the front wheel on the right side since it was probably bent. I stayed with her while we got the car "checked in" and then she took me home in her boyfriend's car. A couple hours later, she calls me on the phone all ticked off. Seems the shop wants to sell her new struts, since hers were "bent". I had looked at them but didn't notice anything obvious, so they could be right. They were telling her that they would charge her for an allignment today and when she replaced the struts! Not very happy with this place, but I have had (and heard of) many poor run-ins with this chain.

So after the call I got to wondering if I missed something else. What I am more concerned about is the strut tower itself. We all know that if it's bent, then the allignment can suffer with either a good or bad strut. When I put the engine cradle in, it lined up perfectly, so I am assuming there was no structural damage to the unibody. Am I accurate in assuming this? Also, since that fender was undamaged, I assumed no structural damage because you'd think the fender would be toast. What else could I be missing?

Thanks for your help! (And for reading all this! LOL!)

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Old 04-11-2009, 09:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Collision repair aftermath questions / opinions requested

The diagram below is for the underhood front end measurements. The numbers should match but if they do not its not a disaster if the diagonals are equal. I would be asking for a show and tell on that "bent" strut.

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Old 04-11-2009, 12:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Collision repair aftermath questions / opinions requested

If they want to charge for the first alignment they need to be able to provide you a printout with the specs and the current readings. This would be so that you can see what is out and they should be able to explain why they believe the alignment is out. Bad struts would give you camber or caster out of spec.
They should be able to charge a bit for something like an aligmnent check but seeing as they did not complete a full alignment they should not charge full price.

As for the strut tower being bent the car would have had to hit very hard up high.

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Old 04-12-2009, 03:07 AM   #4
Wyle E Coyote
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Default Re: Collision repair aftermath questions / opinions requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssicarman View Post
If they want to charge for the first alignment they need to be able to provide you a printout with the specs and the current readings. This would be so that you can see what is out and they should be able to explain why they believe the alignment is out. Bad struts would give you camber or caster out of spec.
They should be able to charge a bit for something like an aligmnent check but seeing as they did not complete a full alignment they should not charge full price.
This chain is notorious for upselling through misinformation and other poor business practices. Most people don't know any better and/or don't care I guess. It's the only reason I could think of, that anyplace with such a bad rep could stay in business these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssicarman View Post
As for the strut tower being bent the car would have had to hit very hard up high.
Exactly my thought. And since the fender itself was perfect, it's unlikely that the tower is bent. I really think that they wanted to upsell her some struts, and that it's coincedence that one of the estimates said bent strut. They also told her that they had a "snow wheel" for "around $25", or the "normal wheel for around $70". I told him specifically that if he didn't have a snow wheel that we would go get one for $16.50 from the yard I got the other parts from, and he acknowledged that. When she went to pick up the car, guess which wheel it had on it?

Then the worst part (so far) happened today. She texted me to tell me not to bother getting the used strut, and that she was just going to allow them to put struts on it for her. So much for trying to keep her from being taken by shops like this!


OldNuc; Thank's for the info! Not that I think I'll ever get to work on it again, but at least if I do I can check it.

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