How much can a wheel alignment change over a year wihout any major bumps or accidents?

Tiny
BOCRUNCH
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 TOYOTA COROLLA
  • 60,000 MILES
About a year ago, my wife ran over some tire tred left on the freeway from a semi truck. It took out the front bumper and side markers. Our insurance guided us to a shop for the repairs. Despite telling them that the car did not feel the same while driving, the said that there was nothing wrong with it. A year later, I have new tires installed and they tell me that the camber is so far off that if I don't get it fixed soon, it will void the warranty on my tires. I have a copy of the results from the alignment they did a year ago and the alignment check from a few days ago. I would like to know if the changes are normal for a year of driving without any accidents or major bumps to speak of, or if I am being taken for a ride down that old familiar "ripoff lane". I've attached a PDF file with the new readings in yellow and the old readings are under the "Actual" and "Before" columbs. Empty spaces were readings that were not taken.

Thank you,
S. Mullen
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 12:26 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
DRCRANKNWRENCH
  • EXPERT
The yellow column is what the car is now. So, what is the, "AFTER" column. Is this just from putting it on a machine and checking it or an alignment result? If it is from an alignment, I can see that the specs on the left side are so far out of spec that some suspension components may even be bent. You can take this to the insurance company and tell them you want a supplement for the original settlement. They are not abligated to do it as soon as you endorse the check you agree that repairs are sufficient. Use the argument that it was never checked and should have been and go to your local Governement insurance fraud office for back up. Any camber should never be more than -1.0 degree or so. The handling is probably poor and the tires are already worn irregularly.
Not to mention that you might need new suspension parts just to get it to align becasue they are very far out of spec. The spec I found for front camber is -.32degrees give or take.45degrees. So the front right is leaning with the top out, so the whole car is leaning to the right in front. I do not have cross camber to check specs. However this is probably total camber from front left ro right rear.
Any way you look at it, the specs also depend on the type of machine used to measure it. It needs a full alignment even when looking at the specs they have. I cannot comment on the cross camber, but the machine is doing a measurement that helps assure the total 4 wheel alignment of the vehicle.
Take a look at the tread wear across the tire. If the front, drivers side, has more where on the inner tread than the outer, it is not within spec. If the front or passenger side has more wear on the outer than the inner, it is not right.
Does the car go straight if you use the brakes without your hands on the steering wheel?
Does it seems to pull hard to wither side while moving?
Does the handling when making a right turn differ from a left trun?
Just so you have it and I cannot back up the cross camber spec, get a second opinion from a chain facility. Go to a large chain like a Good year or other large chain and let them measure it, hear what they have to say and then show them the spec sheet you have here.
The reson I say this is because the camber for each fron wheel is not so far out of spec, but this, "cross camber" is far out of spec and the manufacturer does not have a spec on it.
I can undertand the mearurement but I cannot say it is so far out of spec that it contitutes all of the above that I said. But if another shop agrees and can give you a cross camber spec or explain it, you should follow my above comments.
As far as hitting the tread on the highway and the insurance company not having the alignment check is really what I have a problem with and why I gave you my opinion based on the data sheet you have. However, I am aprehensive about the cross camber enough that I would absolutely get the alignment checked. Then get it aligned as it is a little out of the specifications that I have. The insurance company should at least have paid for an alignment. Hitting potholes and other like things evetually require alignment every year anyway. However, the car struck something and should have absolutely had the alignment as part of the insurance sttlement.
I hope this helps and please do ask me any questions you have. You want to have information from more than one place that all say the same thing. Right now you do not have enough to really go after the insurance company anyway, maybe even if you should have gotten the money, because of the time that has passed.
So, if the cross camber does turn out to be somethng that may require parts to fix, you have an arguement with the insurance company. If it does not then you can only argue the original cost of getting the alignment checked. Because they should have paid for that.
You will have to get a second alignment check if you want to argue it, but I would just get it aligned at a reputable large chain tire shop. Then decide if you have anything to worry about if they have to replace any suspension components to get it aligned.
I know this sounds like I am arguing both sides of the fence, but I have to suggest the second opinion and alignment before I can definately back up your argument. Mainly because there is no manufacturer specification for cross camber and that does not give me solid evidence to go on. This does not meant that the machine they used for alignment does not have a specification for the 4 wheel camber. But the manufacterer does not have numbers to back it up.
Let me know the outcome.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 2:03 AM
Tiny
BOCRUNCH
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I got you a little turned around here. Sorry about that. The yellow is from the most recent alignment check - no adjustments, just check. I bought 4 new tires from Big-O and they checked the alignment and told me my camber was way off. They want to install front and rear camber shims so they can adjust the camber. I really don't have a problem with that except, there must be a reason for it being so far off, and instead of hiding that reason, I'd rather repair whatever part has damaged. And along those lines, the only damage that has ever been done to the car was last year when my wife ran over that tire tred. They did an alignment along with the repairs, I was just wondering if it is normal for the camber. A non adjustable setting from what I understand. To get so far out of whack from normal driving over a year or if there is some damage that was overlooked a year ago when my wife ran over the tire tred.

Thank you very much for your time
Shawn Mullen
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 2:57 AM
Tiny
DRCRANKNWRENCH
  • EXPERT
The from wheels by themselves sre not too out of alignment and that is normal over a year and with hitting the tire tread.
Alignment machines do what is called a, "Trust Alignment" or "4 Wheel Alignment", so the front and rear are aligned to each other. If this is not done, you could have the front wheels aligned, but be dragging the rear wheels, for lack of a better phrase, sideways down the road. With the front and rear aligned to each other, the best handling and least rolling resistance is achieved.
I tend to ramble when I answer questions as I want you to have as much information about the specifications of the car, what is expected normally and what I think of the current situation. I tend to end up with a lot of information that is not in the best sequence as I have to write while thinking and don't have an outline for the whole answer. Sorry if it got confusing.
The bottom line is that by the alignment machine and method that the shop uses to determine total camber, the car is far out of specification. I have not worked with cross camberand I don't have any specifications to go off of to really give my opinion of the specs that The Big O gave you. I have done 4 wheel alignment with what is called, "Total Toe". It is just a diferent way to align fron and rear wheels together for thrust alignment. This is why I said a second opinion might be good as new alignment machines are always coming out with different ways to do things.
From what I see the total toe would not be hard to line up. The front can be adjusted by the tie rods and set to line up with the rear, which does have adjustment for toe. So to me it sounds like the alignment is a little much and could be done a different way. The front might need shimes or what are called, "Concentric Bolts" to bring the camber in. However the specs I have on the car indicate that the camber is within spec or easily fixed on all wheels. I am not familiar with "Cross Camber" and do not have any specs on it. So, I thought another opinion would be in order.
In fact I am going to get another Tech to look at your spec sheet and see what they think.
In the end it does not matter much as the car is well within normal wear and tear numbers from its age and mileage. I just wanted to make sure you did not pay for something you don't need such as major suspension components. Since they say it can be fixed with shims I feel a lot better about it and I think your situation is just fine.
The other thing is that I hate insurance companies. They talk their way out of what you pay for, indemnity. After hitting the tread a wheel alignment would not have cost them much and should have been done. However, too much time has expired to argue that point now.
So, I am going to ask a friend if they are familiar with cross camber and get back to you.
But again, in the end nothing is abnormal and you are not being ripped off as long as The Big O does not charge a lot for the alignment. It should only take an extra hour of labor to shim the wheels straight. So, check their hourly rate and make sure they do not charge you over 1.5 hours extra on top of the alignment price to fix the car. That is probably more time than needed but each shop has a time alloted for certain jobs.
I will get back to you on the cross alignment for information purposes and try to get a better time estimate for the shims. Again as far as the car goes, it really is not that far out of 2 wheel spec or even 4 wheel spec from my experience. But, I have not worked with the newest alignment machines and I now have my own tools to do alignments myself. My ignorance probably biases my opinion.
I will get back with you ASAP with those 2 answers and then you will have all the education on the situation.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 4:51 AM
Tiny
DRCRANKNWRENCH
  • EXPERT
I found information on cross camber and it is a way to do 4 wheel alignment. It is the difference between camber side to side. Since you have some positive camber on the passenger side and negative camber on the left side, it is the correct approach. I am actually familiar with it, I just never heard the terminology.
I could not find the hours of labor using an estimator for a better guess at installing shims to fix it. But it could not take more than 1 hour maybe 1.5 since the rears are getting done. This would be extra on top of the alignment.
So, you are in good shape and should feel at ease. The approach they are taking is sound as the difference in camber is so great side to side in the front and back. The car should handle very well after it is done.
Sorry I over loaded you with information. I tend to do that as I figure more is better so you have as much knowledge as possible to let you know everything is in order and you know what is being done and how much it should take to fix it.
If you have any other questions. I will be watching poats for another 15 minutes or so and will be looking at them tommorrow. So, I will get back ASAP.
Take care.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 5:14 AM

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