Wheel alignment on my Dodge Caravan 2004

Tiny
QUORTHON
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 DODGE CARAVAN
Few days ago I went to Firestone Tire and Auto repair center to replace all 4 tires. I bought all-season Firestone FR380 model. I am extremely happy with how those tires perform.

However, I also asked for wheel alignment to be done and they did it. After 2 days of driving I've noticed that my car slightly pulls to the left... not much, but I've noticed it since I know how my car used to go perfectly straight, even if you're not holding your hands on the steering wheel.

So I went back there and they checked wheel alignment for me. They told me they did some minor adjustment but that shouldn't affect anything... they claim even first time it was done perfectly... well, I am not an expert, but after they did this adjustment, I feel like my car goes a lot more straight than before... it doesn't pull to the left side any more.

I was wondering if someone can read these wheel alignment readings for me and tell me how they look. I've noticed there was one number marked with black background square, so I guess that's the number they adjusted. They also wrote another (new) number with a pen right next to the one that's marked.

I'm just wondering if there is someone who can tell me could this really be what caused y car pulling to the left... I repeat, it wasn't that obvious, but I've noticed it when driving. I also noticed that when I used to hit some small bumps on the road, my steering wheel used to tilt to the left side... always to the left and never to the right... it also looked to me like turning my steering wheel to the right side was a little harder than when I'm turning it to the left side. Now it looks a lot more even.

Here is how this sheet of paper with readings look like. I marked that number exactly the same way they did it on the original paper and I also added that new reading for Rear Left Camber and marked it in blue (they added it using a pen).

Thanks in advance for your help, I appreciate it.
Cheers!
Quorthon


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/112488_WheelAlignment_1.jpg

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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 11:13 AM

14 Replies

Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
  • EXPERT
The caster reading is how the wheel sets in a front to rear position, the more negative the further back it sets, the higher the number the more it sets towards the front. The camber was moved forward 3 degrees on your left rear. Hopefully it was just the positioning of the alignment that made the pull. I have seen new tires that have had a pull, by swapping them side to side, you can see if the pull changes.

Camber is how the wheel is tipped into the body or tipped out.
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 11:43 AM
Tiny
QUORTHON
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Hello and thanks for your prompt respond.

Is it really 3 degrees or just 0.03 degrees? If it's this second number I posted, isn't that such a small difference?

So, could this really be the culprit of my problems? They told me this shouldn't solve anything trying to tell me that what they did first time was also OK.

Thanks again !

EDIT: Oh sorry. I just noticed that number on the ight side (for rear right wheel) is positive and for the rear left wheel, it is corrected but still negative number. Why is that?
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 11:49 AM
Tiny
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Sorry, my brain fell out when I posted this earlier. You are right :.03.

I had caster on the brain, when posting.

Were the alignment heads put back on the vehicle, did you see what they were doing?
Were the tire moved at all?

Not a grand caravan, correct?
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 2:44 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
  • MEMBER
They took off all wheels, that's what I saw. Also they put all those spider looking tools (LOL, sorry not sure how they call them) on wheels and they did some checking on that computer unit.

No, it's not Grand Caravan, it's just Caravan 2004 (December 2004 actually, new line with huge headlights)

Also, I am not sure why they had to adjust that number just from -0.28 to -0.25 and they did nothing regarding that huge gap between those first two numbers at the top for the Front wheels. I don't understand a thing they did.
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 3:12 PM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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They may not have adjusted it, you can have a variation like that when the it is set up a second time.

I pulled up the specs to look at what they should be.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/30961_spec_1.jpg



The reason the -.28 is highlighted is because it is out of spec. -.25 is as far as it can go.

A pull would be expected toward the wheel that has a higher positive camber, which would be the right front. However the rear camber is at extreme opposites not to mention just barley in spec. Looking at the numbers, I f you let go of the wheel I would think it would want to go right.

For the heck of it check your tire pressures. I can help but also wonder if there is a bad tire present that was rotated.

I agree the camber should have been brought closer to zero or at least closer to offsetting. The rear camber doesn't have adjustment but a kit can probably be installed to adjust it.
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 5:52 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
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Thank you so much for your help.

The strange thing is that I just came back from work, and on highway, I've noticed that car still pulls slightly to the left, not to the right as you mentioned. Reading those numbers I believe it tells you that it should pull to the right, but it's pulling slightly to the left.

They've checked pressure in all 4 tires and it was as specified for this vehicle.

This van is like brand new, only 85 thousand kilometers (it's 2004), and I take great care of it. This is sad that I just went there to replace my old tires with new ones, and this is what I've got. Worst of all, they can't do anything to fix this now. They keep telling me that everything is fine and I am 110% sure it's not. I can feel my car.

I'm ready to pay again but this time I am going to some Dodge dealership shop.

Thanks again for you generous help, I really appreciate it !
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 6:04 PM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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I meant "you" check the pressure. I have known some guys to deflate a tire a bit to off set a pull.

There are plenty of good independent shops that can help you out also and be a little more personable than a dealer. I do not like the chains for auto repair.

My suggestion is to first contact the manager at firestone and explain that is isn't right, take him for a ride if need be. Since you already paid for it, your no further behind.
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 AT 6:17 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
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Thank you Paul, you've been very helpful to me. I did exactly as you suggested, checked the pressure in all 4 tires, and it's exactly as it says on that little metal plate inside my doors.

However, here is a little update although not quite good news.

I visited Chrysler Dodge service today and they're doing some new wheel alignment using some super new digital machine. I will post an image of the alignment results. It looks like they set it right this time. But there is still a big problem with my van pulling to the left. And not just that. I've noticed now that I have to keep my steering wheel turned slightly to the right (let's say some 10 degrees clockwise) so my car goes straight. If I release it, car starts pulling to the left slowly.

The good thing is, these people were unbelievable polite, I've talked to the manager of the shop and to the mechanic who was doing alignment procedure. They took my car for the test ride after everything was done, and they said it still pulls to the left side. But at least they admitted it immediately, I didn't have to go through everything all over again explaining what's happening etc. It was almost closing time, so they weren't able to play with adjusting it some more to get some better results, so they told me I can come back whenever I want, first thing Monday morning and they will see what can be done to make things better.

So, I'm going back there on Monday and I'll see what's happening from there.

I'm just wondering, why do I have all these trouble when I have a proof that alignment was done properly now, and my wheels are aligned as they should be? What else could cause these problems?

Thank you in advance and thank you again for all your help people ! I really do appreciate your effort!

Here is how my steering wheel looks like when I want to keep my van going perfectly straight:
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Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 AT 4:30 PM
Tiny
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I think I would swap the two front tires and see if it changes the pull. A caliper hanging up maybe?
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Sunday, November 4th, 2007 AT 6:55 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
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Oh I forgot to say that they rotated all 4 tires, they changed positions front to rear, left to right and nothing changed.

I'm just thinking. Even if there was something wrong with one of those tires (left/right), my steering wheel shouldn't be this much off. I mean, I have to hold it 10 degrees clockwise in order to keep my van going perfectly straight. Why is that happening now?

I guess they have to compare old alignment results those guys from Firestone did, and these new ones from Peel Chrysler Dodge shop, and do some realigning but more towards the right side. So I guess my van will go straight again. It looks like it doesn't go straight when wheel alignment is done perfectly as it should have been done.
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Sunday, November 4th, 2007 AT 7:33 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
  • MEMBER
I will really need some clue on what's happening here. I already spent more than $400 on checking this alignment.

I started to believe that this problem has nothing to do with alignment. Why? Well, I'll try to explain.

First of all, just want to mention that this van has never been involved in any kind of accident, so that's covered. Did alignment in two different shops, both pretty respectable in this area (Firestone Auto-Moto Service and Peel Chrysler). At Chrysler they even did alignment with some super new digital equipment. So I believe alignment is OK after all.

What I have noticed this afternoon when I was on my way home could give some clues to someone who is good with solving this kind of problems.

I was on a highway, perfectly even road. Traffic was incredible, we were barely moving. Stop - 1 meter forward - stop - 1 meter forward and like that in circles. When I was at stop, I left my wheel perfectly centered, so car is supposed to go straight forward. As soon as I start moving even if it's as slow as 2 meters per hour, my steering wheel starts to move to the left. It looks like there is some kind of huge amount of pressure coming in from the right and turning my steering wheel to the left. Could that be the reason my van tends to go left all the time. I've also noticed that turning my steering wheel to the right is a little bit harder than to the left. Like I have to use more power to turn it to the right than turning it to the left side.

What can cause that? Could it have something to do with power steering pressure lines losing the pressure or something. I've checked the power steering fluid level and it's little bit over the optimum, so it's good.

They also told me at the service that they have noticed my water pump has a small leak, nothing urgent but I will have to replace it before winter.

Is there anyone who can help me here so I don't go around spending my money on this like crazy please? I have 10 months old baby, and for sure I could have spent all that money a lot better way. :(

Please, there must be someone who can come up with some advice. I came few years ago, from by the war destroyed European country, lost everything over there and practically started my life from the scratch. It was a struggle and it still is, so spending all this money on something that doesn't even solve my problem with this van is plain crazy.

Thanks to everyone who can help me with advice, I truly appreciate it.

Best Regards
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 AT 5:46 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
  • MEMBER
Big update. :)

Problem solved. I went back to Firestone service for the third time. Hate doing this because I am not one of those bad customers that keep bugging and coming back for nothing, but this wasn't nothing. This was a big deal, van was pulling hard to the left and in just 10-15 meters it would completely switch the lanes. With little baby inside, that's a crazy thing indeed and it shouldn't happen.

So, I've contacted the manager himself directly (even though employees at the shop refused to give me his contact info, I found it through some other channels) and he arranged same day appointment for me, so they put another guy to do necessary adjustments.

When he was done, he told me that it wasn't done properly first time, and whoever was working on my van, wasn't doing it properly. He had to adjust Camber on both front wheels, as well as some toe adjustment.

I am happy to say that my van runs perfectly straight again.

Long way I had to go through to get what I paid for, but at the end it was worth it.

Cheers!
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Sunday, November 11th, 2007 AT 8:37 AM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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So glad to hear the results. That was why I suggested:

My suggestion is to first contact the manager at firestone and explain that is isn't right, take him for a ride if need be. Since you already paid for it, your no further behind.

Crappy you had to go over some heads to get satisfaction. The dealer results didn't surprize me either.

Congrats!
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Sunday, November 11th, 2007 AT 5:38 PM
Tiny
QUORTHON
  • MEMBER
Yes, I am glad too! And I want to thank you for your generous help and leading me through all this. I really appreciate it. People like you make this World a lot better place to live in.

Thanks again!
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Sunday, November 11th, 2007 AT 6:23 PM

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