Car Drifts to the Left, Even After Alignment? Also Steering Wheel Feels Tighter After

Tiny
EAGLEI22
  • MEMBER
  • 2008 CHEVROLET COBALT
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 75,000 MILES
I have a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt with about 75k miles. It has mostly expressway miles and I noticed recently it pulls to the left slightly and I notice I have to keep putting pressure on the wheel to keep the car center. It's not horrible but enough to where if I let go of the steering wheel it will start to go to the left slowly but always to the left.

So I went to Sears today and had gotten an alignment here is what the print out stated.

Front:Left
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-1.2 -1.2 -1.8 to -0.3 Camber
2.6 2.6 2.3 to 3.6 Caster
0.06in -0.11in 0.00 to 0.10in Toe
13.3 13.3 SAI
12.1 12.1 included Angle

Front:Right
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-1.1 -1.1 -1.8 to -0.3 Camber
3.4 3.4 2.3 to 3.6 Caster
0.07in -0.24in 0.00 to 0.10in Toe
14.3 14.4 SAI
13.3 13.3 included Angle

Front
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-0.1 -0.1 -0.8 to -0.8 Cross Camber
-0.8 -0.8 -0.8 to -0.8 Cross Caster
-1.1 -1.1 Cross SAI
0.13in 0.13in 0.00in to 0.20 Total Toe


Rear:Left
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-0.4 -0.4 -1.6 to -0.1 Camber
-0.01in -0.01in -0.01 to 0.14in Toe

Rear:Right
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-0.7 -0.7 -1.6 to -0.1 Camber
0.06in 0.06in -0.01 to 0.14in Toe


Rear
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
0.3 0.3 Cross Camber
0.04in 0.05in -0.03 to 0.28in Total Toe
-0.07 -0.07 -0.30 to 0.30 Thrust Angle


The value under Front, Cross Caster is Actual: -0.08 and Before: -0.8 with a Specified Range of -0.8 to 0.8 Why would this be left at the very minimum and not adjusted? Is this correct? Even the print out has a * next to it which also states: "This value is not within specification. Tire wear, handling and safety problems may result." I called Sears and questions it and the guy said that sometimes it's like that and a lot of cars are like that where the machine doesn't call for an adjustment on that area. I don't know anything about alignments and don't care to, hence why I paid Sears to do it.

But for those who are experts in this area, would the Cross Caster affect the car and cause it to drift to the left? To me I see -0.8 to 0.8 for the range and at -0.8 it's all the way to the left it can go before going out of range. Which makes me think that could cause my car to drift left.

Also is it normal for the steering wheel to feel a little stiffer after an alignment?

Thanks!
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Thursday, September 10th, 2015 AT 8:40 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
Their machine appears to be hosed. To me cross caster is -0.1.

Front: Left
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-1.2 -1.2 -1.8 to -0.3 Camber
2.6 2.6 2.3 to 3.6 Caster
0.06in -0.11in 0.00 to 0.10in Toe
13.3 13.3 SAI
12.1 12.1 included Angle

Front: Right
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-1.1 -1.1 -1.8 to -0.3 Camber
3.4 3.4 2.3 to 3.6 Caster
0.07in -0.24in 0.00 to 0.10in Toe
14.3 14.4 SAI
13.3 13.3 included Angle

Front
(in degrees unless otherwise specified)
Actual Before Specified Range
-0.1 -0.1 -0.8 to -0.8 Cross Camber
-0.8 -0.8 -0.8 to -0.8 Cross Caster
-1.1 -1.1 Cross SAI
0.13in 0.13in 0.00in to 0.20 Total Toe

After the alignment, you have -1.1 on the right and -1.2 on the left. That's a difference of -0.1, not -0.8. Negative camber means the tire is leaning inwards. A very slight (approx 1 degree) negative is good for handling. However, in order to fight what's known as road crown (the slight angling towards the right shoulder that allows rainwater drain off) of all roads, the left should have less negative camber than the right, and it doesn't. It has more. To be honest, your car should have an imperceptible drift to the right, not the left.

And they left your rears the exact opposite. More negative on the right, as it should be.

Raise the front end and take the wheels off. Then look at the brake pads to see if they are wearing evenly side to side. There has to be something resisting the left wheel's rotation in order for it to be pulling/drifting to the left.
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Thursday, September 10th, 2015 AT 8:59 PM
Tiny
EAGLEI22
  • MEMBER
I will look at the pads tomorrow. Would you say the alignment is good or does it still need work and I should take it back?
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Thursday, September 10th, 2015 AT 9:12 PM
Tiny
RIVERMIKERAT
  • MEMBER
It's not what I would have done, but it is within spec. You can see if they'll adjust it to correct for road crown, but I doubt they. They'll sit back on the fact it's within spec and probably not even know what road crown is unless they've been in the alignment and suspension game for quite some time. Whoever you talk to, that is, not Sears in general.

You've got a pretty good number of miles on the car. Pop the cap on the brake fluid reservoir and scrape the tip of a medium-sized plain screwdriver lightly across the bottom and see if you pick up sludge. If you do, make sure you the brake system gets completely flushed out.

From the numbers that you gave as the before and after, the alignment wasn't and isn't contributing to the pull. My guess, without looking at it myself is that the caliper on the left front is hanging up just enough to slow that wheel enough to cause the drift. That's usually caused either by sludge or rust buildup, or a leak on the other side.
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Friday, September 11th, 2015 AT 8:40 AM

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