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Old 04-07-2006, 03:27 AM   #1
Bluesideup
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Default Alignment Diagnosis

This past week I did a bunch of work to the trusty Saturn.

New KYB Struts all around

New front sway/torsion bar bracket bushings (Energy Suspension)

New front sway/torsion bar control arm bushings (NAPA)

New outer tie rod ends

I properly greased the upper strut mounts as well since they were getting to be dry.

Anywho I took it in to the local Big O to get the alignment done. I told them it was going to be pretty wacked because of all the work done. I also told them the camber is adjustable on all four corners because of the slotted lower holes on the struts (apparently they weren't listening to that part).

So they do the alignment and it's all good, the car tracks straight but the steering wheel is off by a couple degrees when driving straight. I go for a ride with the tech to show him the wheel and mention that the rear camber must have been way off. He said "Oh the computer said the rear camber isn't adjustable". He wasn't aware that the new struts allow for adjustable rear camber. I know the alignment laser heads are normally placed on all four wheels, would it automatically compensate for the rear wheels out of wack? Does the rear have to be aligned correctly before doing the front?

Looking at the rear of the car the driver's side looks to be 0 or positive camber and the passenger side looks like it is running a little negative. The car tracks straight.

My front caster is out a little bit as well, isn't that adjustable by moving the torsion bar slightly? Is there really any adjustment available?
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:41 AM   #2
S3aturnR
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1999 SL1
Default Re: Alignment Diagnosis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluesideup
This past week I did a bunch of work to the trusty Saturn.

New KYB Struts all around

New front sway/torsion bar bracket bushings (Energy Suspension)

New front sway/torsion bar control arm bushings (NAPA)

New outer tie rod ends

I properly greased the upper strut mounts as well since they were getting to be dry.

Anywho I took it in to the local Big O to get the alignment done. I told them it was going to be pretty wacked because of all the work done. I also told them the camber is adjustable on all four corners because of the slotted lower holes on the struts (apparently they weren't listening to that part).

So they do the alignment and it's all good, the car tracks straight but the steering wheel is off by a couple degrees when driving straight. I go for a ride with the tech to show him the wheel and mention that the rear camber must have been way off. He said "Oh the computer said the rear camber isn't adjustable". He wasn't aware that the new struts allow for adjustable rear camber. I know the alignment laser heads are normally placed on all four wheels, would it automatically compensate for the rear wheels out of wack? Does the rear have to be aligned correctly before doing the front?

Looking at the rear of the car the driver's side looks to be 0 or positive camber and the passenger side looks like it is running a little negative. The car tracks straight.

My front caster is out a little bit as well, isn't that adjustable by moving the torsion bar slightly? Is there really any adjustment available?
with the proper training, all of your alignment parameters can be adjusted. if the mechanic told you, "the computer said it wasn't adjustable" then ask for your money back and go to another shop. a real mechanic won't be so stupid and actually check the car to see.

where there's a will, there's a way. if you tell them what, exactly you want your alignment set to and you ask for the computer printout when they're done, there should be no question as to what the rear camber is set at. you have to remember that there are parameters for cross camber as well. for a stock alignment, you should make sure your car is within these parameters. the only way to verify is to get the printout. they HAVE to check rear camber to be able to give you a cross camber figure.

sounds like your problem could be a combination of a couple of things. 1, it could simply be the tie rods were adjusted asymmetrically. 2, i could be an improper thrust angle alignment (the back tires). 3, it's probably a little of each. have you followed your car to see if it really is tracking straight? it could go in a straight line when you're driving and let go of the wheel for a second, but it might have a "dog trot" to it when viewed from a chase vehicle.

i would shop around for an alignment shop that will give you an estimate up front, properly adjust your car and give you a printed readout when they're finished to prove it. what i've done in the past is take my car to the saturn dealer, ask for a 4 wheel/thrust angle alignment and not tell them what you did to your car to necessitate this. let them write you up an estimate for their alignment (it's a set price, not hourly like some other places) and let them have at it. 4 hours later, they will tell you it's done and to never bring your car to them again and only be able to charge you 10% more than the written estimate in your hand. it's an evil trick, but it's my little way of "sticking it to the man". and it sounds like a little turn-about-is-fair-play is warranted in your situation...

good luck...


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