I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this email. My only intention is to try to describe the events as they occured, so this helps you in diagnosing the problem best.
I most kindly appreciate your preciseness with this matter. This has been most frustrating and agonizing!
I drive a 2010 Mazda 6 iSport, 4-Cyl, 2.5 L that I bought in September.
About three weeks ago, on an icy afternoon, I skid with my front left wheel into the curb with some force. The steering wheel direction was changed, meaning I had to hold it some 20 to 30 degrees to the right in order for the car to go straight and it was feeling looser than normal.
When I took the car to Goodyear, I was told the rim was bent so they replaced it with a new one (The order came 4 days later so I had to drive 4 days with a bent rim, and in the condition I explained). Also, the alignment reading for the front left camber was showing negative (-1.24 degrees) and that was the only thing that off that I saw on the screen. I didn't get a printout for this alignment. But the guy told me to ignore it.
Having spent much, but not convinced, I took the car to a Mazda dealer right away. This time I decided not to tell the guy what had happened and see whether he figures it out.
Attached is the printout for the before and after readings. The first thing I noticed was that the before reading for camber was positive 1.0, not negative 1.24! And also other readings were off too.
At any rate, the Mazda technician did tell me that the best number he could adjust the camber to was 0.7; just in range, linking it to weak manufacture or going over potholes, ect.
But there was still one problem. Since the front left wheel had been driven 4 days with a bent rim, the car would drift to the left. The technician verified this by switching the left and front tires and realizing that car would pull to the side with the bad front tire. So he advised me to get new tires.
So, right after that I went and got 2 new front tires (Goodyear Assurance TripleTred). After that, I was still (probably) feeling a little bit of pull, but nobody else was, when I gave them the car to drive. However, my suspension for this, was worsened when just 3 days after the alignment, suddenly the steering wheel started feeling the exact same type and degree of looseness that I felt when I hit the curb. Now sometimes going over bumps makes the steering wheel wobble a little. When I took the car to the dealer for this, he said that I now had two directional tires on in the front, and so he couldn't do an alignment; but said otherwise things were fine, when he came for a road test with me. (When I say the steering wheel feels loose, I don't mean it's not responsive; it is; but rather easier to turn than the normal)
On top of that, a few days after that I started feeling this mild but very annoying sway/swerve in the car.
If I understand correctly, Mazda 6 has a wishbone suspension system and my questions are the following:
1) Why were Goodyear and Mazda dealer's camber readings different? Goodyear's alignment showed only a NEGATIVE camber reading, whereas Mazda dealer's showed a POSITIVE camber reading plus others. I know that you could say one should have been out of calibration. But could there be other reasons? Different machines, software, etc?
2) Taking Mazda dealer's alignment readings (attached to this message) as correct, could just "bringing" the alignment readings into specification, with a part that is slightly bent (but not visible to the eye) make the car aligned for a few days, and then since a part is bent, this go back to its natural-state, out-of -alignment condition?
3) Could all this be due to installing two new front tires that don't match the back ones? Could having two different types of tires in the front and back cause the wheel alignment go out fast? Or is the answer no, and that there is something wrong (bent/damaged/loose) with my car's suspension/steering after hitting the curb? If there is a bent part in the suspension/steering, how is it diagnosed?
4) Or could this be that the dealer's technician didn't tighten some nuts/bolts hard enough?
This is truly frustrating! I appreciate that it was an icy road, but since this happened, there hasn't been a single day that I haven't taunted myself over this for going faster than I should have, when my tires were also not at all good enough for such a weather. I'm getting depressed.
Being certified technicians, I truly appreciate your kind response and perspective regarding my questions.