An alignment (also called a four wheel alignment) is a procedure which measures the various angles of all four wheels as the vehicle travels down the road and also as it turns. The process involves and alignment computer and lasers, ect. Not something that you can do without this or other specialized equipment.
The u-joint that the mechanic referred to is in the steering column where it connects to the rack and pinion steering unit (accessible underhood and underneath the vehicle). The u-joint is has a protective cover on it to keep out water and dirt. Once the mechanic or you manages to pull that cover back to reveal the u-joint, you can then, shake twist and wiggle it, checking for looseness (especially when the wheels are turned tot he right).
Another thing, start the engine and turn the wheels all the way to the left. Note how far they turn. Then turn them all the way to the right. Is there a difference? Do the wheels seem to turn sharper tot he right than to the left? (If so alignment problem.
**You still could have alignment problems even if the tires seem to turn the same amount. Most alignment problems are hard to see with the naked eye, hence the sophisticated alignment equipment.
I hope that this helps. I'm still searching for info and will let you know if I find anything that might help.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014 AT 8:16 AM