Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures - S-10 Forum
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post #1 of 62 Old 09-26-2013, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Recently I have noticed an increase of forum members with questions and concerns regarding suspension parts and alignments. A large portion of handling issues like a left or right hand pull, wandering, squeeks, rattles, clunks, and shaking have to do with one or more suspension parts being worn to the point of either having play outside of a specified tolerance or to complete falure. I'll be covering all of the methods used to inspect your front end parts and well as what to look for in regards to play and what is considered acceptable or not. I do not claim to know everything about all suspension systems. I am an ASE suspension and steering certified alignment tech with about 7 years experience, so while I haven't done this as long as some, I feel I have above average knowledge of the subject. Some images posted are ones I've taken myself, while others are from a general search as I have either lack of examples at my disposal or lack of time to make a diagram.


First I'll cover alignment fundamentals and how certain measurements and settings effect handling.

Camber-*
Camber angle is the measure in degrees of the difference between the wheel's vertical alignment perpendicular to the surface. Negative camber being that the top of the tire is leaning inward toward the engine and positive when leaning outward from the engine. Negative camber is becoming increasingly more popular because of its visual appeal. The real advantages to negative camber are seen in the handling characteristics. Zero camber results in more even wear across the tread of a tire. Positive Camber is most often used on offroad and agricultural vehicles due to it providing a lower steering effort.




Caster-*
Caster is harder for most to understand, but is defined as the angle created by the pivot point of the steering from the front to back of the vehicle. Caster is positive if the line is angled forward and negative if angled backward. Positive caster will result in more stability at higher speeds and faster return of the steering wheel to level, but will increase tire lean while cornering as well as increase steering effort. Most road vehicles will have Cross-Caster, which means there is a difference in the caster angle on each side of the vehicle. (Example: 3.0 degrees on one side and 3.5 degrees on the other) This is actually a safety feature to cause un-manned vehicles or drivers who lose steering control to drift away from instead of into oncoming traffic. However, generally vehicles are set to drive as straight as possible, which often requires a cross-caster split of about half of a degree to compensate for crown in the road, always more positive on the passenger side. (Example- 3.0 Degrees on the diver's side and 3.5 degrees on the passenger side)



Toe-*
This is the easieast to vizualize. This is the angle which the tires are pointing when viewed from the top down. Toe is the biggest factor in how your tires wear. If the tires are pointed inward or outward, they will scrub against the surface of the road and cause wear along the edges. But sometimes tread life can be sacrificed for performance or stability. Positive toe will provide straighter driving characteristics at the cost of turning ability. This is found mostly in rear wheel drive vehicles. At speed, the tires will straighten out, helping to reduce excessive tire wear. Front wheel drive vehicles often have negative toe for the opposite reason. Their suspension arms pull slightly inward, so a slight negative toe will compensate for the drag and level out the wheels at speed as well as increases cornering ability. This sacrifices straight line stability though.


Inspection

Everyone has a different way to check certain things. This is how I do my inspections at work. The pictures shown are of a 1994 2WD Blazer.*


After getting the vehicle racked and at working height, I first check all bushings for cracking or tears. Minor cracking like what is shown on these swaybar end links and mount bushings, isn't of much concern. More severe cracking or tears would warrant replacement.





These control arm bushings on the other hand, are due for replacement, even though no abnormal movement is found.



Next, lift the vehicle by both control arms and make sure its stable. While grasping the tire by the top and bottom (red arrows), shake the wheel by pushing and pulling on alternating hands. Try to effect the camber. You may feel a slight amount of play in the wheel bearings. Very slight play is normal for S-series trucks without hub assemblies (S10, Sonoma). Vehicles with hub assemblies should have zero play (Blazer, Jimmy). Bad ball joints or upper control arm bushings may also be found doing this. Next grab the tire on each side (blue arrows) and use the same alternating force. This is used to find play in the center link, idler/pitman arms, and inner/outter tie rod ends. Ball joints can be checked for vertical play by placing a pry bar under the tire and ground and prying upward with moderate force. Any play warrants replacement.


Labeled in this picture are the tie rod ends (2&3 at the center link, 5&6 are attached at the spindle), Pitman arm (4), and Idler arm (1). Any movement other than twisting of the ball type joints (which under normal driving will be minimal) is considered excessive play. 2WD vehicles have a non wear pitman arm. If play is found here, the center link must be replaced.


Here is the before and after of an alignment I did earlier today on a 1997+ 4WD Jimmy. The after specs are what you are looking for in a quality alignment. This vehicle drove straight with no pull, wandering, or any other symptom.


I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion/questions regarding checking parts and what alignment terms are and how they effect each other. Feel free to ask any questions I left unanswered and I'll try my best to answer them.

Sconie Dime and JBPlanck like this.

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post #2 of 62 Old 09-27-2013, 01:38 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Awesome! This should be a sticky.



I've had wayyy to many of these trucks. (Currently...on number 7)

1988 S-15 - 5.5/6 drop

1985 S10 Blazer 4WD

1998 Blazer ZR2 5 Speed!

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3 doors for 1 and a half whores
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He only bought one wheel. So every picture we see is going to be a pic where either the rear or front is conveniently out of frame.

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post #3 of 62 Old 09-27-2013, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Thank you. Good to see it was sticky worthy. haha.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #4 of 62 Old 09-28-2013, 05:47 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

I'd like to add that it's OK to clean the old dirt and grease off your ball joint boots.
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post #5 of 62 Old 09-28-2013, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Haha. Yeah, this one was pretty bad. The dirt makes matters worse if the boots are ripped, since it will cause them to wear out faster. Which is why when ball joints have torn boots, replacement is recommended.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #6 of 62 Old 09-29-2013, 02:40 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Quote:
Originally Posted by DfntPntbll View Post
Labeled in this picture are the tie rod ends (2&3 at the center link, 5&6 are attached at the spindle), Pitman arm (4), and Idler arm (1). Any movement other than twisting of the ball type joints (which under normal driving will be minimal) is considered excessive play. 2WD vehicles have a non wear pitman arm. If play is found here, the center link must be replaced.

Alright, this may be a really dumb question, but I am replacing the front end on my truck(1996 s10 2wd). I would like to get everything needed (as stated in the picture above) to replace. Pitman arm, center link, idler arm, adjusting sleeves, and tie rod ends. When looking on Rock Auto, there is 4wd and RWD tie rods. Does it make a difference which I get? (Yes its a dumb question but curious) and are the inner and outer tie rods the same? So I would technically order 4 tie rods, a pitman arm, and a center link? Hopefully someone can help with my confusion. Thanks for the help.

EDIT: BTW, this diagram...REALLY helpful for me finding the parts I need.
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post #7 of 62 Old 09-29-2013, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

IIRC, the tie rod ends and sleeves are the same for both 4WD and 2WD. But, I would go ahead and order the ones listed as 2WD to be on the safe side. You mentioned ordering a pitman arm even though yours is 2WD. the pitman arm on 2WD trucks is not a wearing item. The center link bolts to the pitman and idler arms from the bottom, but the only one that wears out is the idler arm. The pitman arm is just a chunk of metal with holes in it. Look closely at the image and you'll see what I mean. Also, the only dumb question is the one left unasked.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #8 of 62 Old 09-30-2013, 10:13 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! That really cleared up a lot of the confusion. I felt dumb needing the answers when you had made them clear already but I was still confused. Since I don't need the pitman arm, being a 2wd, should I replace the idler arm or just a center link and the tie rod ends and sleeves? When I got my truck inspected I was told to replace the center link but I figure I might as well do the tie rod ends and sleeves while I'm at it too.
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post #9 of 62 Old 09-30-2013, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

When I did my center link, I did the tie rod ends and idler as well. It's fairly cheap insurance. And you're very welcome. Lol

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #10 of 62 Old 09-30-2013, 06:10 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Sounds good. Thanks again for the info, when I dropped my truck I did the ball joints while I was already that far into it. Didn't know if I should just redo it all or reolace what was needed seeing as I've never done it before.
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post #11 of 62 Old 10-23-2013, 06:12 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

[QUOTE=DfntPntbll;8355633]

Labeled in this picture are the tie rod ends (2&3 at the center link, 5&6 are attached at the spindle), Pitman arm (4), and Idler arm (1). Any movement other than twisting of the ball type joints (which under normal driving will be minimal) is considered excessive play. 2WD vehicles have a non wear pitman arm. If play is found here, the center link must be replaced.


I have a 1992 S10, 4x2. Will my setup be the same as on this Blazer? I had it lifted up the other day, and got underneath it and everything looks about the same.
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post #12 of 62 Old 10-23-2013, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

yes. the front end parts on the 2WD blazers and s-10's are the same.

1998 Ext. Cab S-10 4.3L bagged front/lowered 6" and rear disc
1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #13 of 62 Old 11-30-2013, 10:46 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

thanks bro
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post #14 of 62 Old 01-18-2014, 10:37 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Great write up, but I am still trying to figure out the difference between positive and negative toe in. Please steer me straight!
E.g., which one is shown in the diagram?
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post #15 of 62 Old 01-18-2014, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Thank you. Toe is considered positive when the tires are pointing inward, towards the center of the vehicle. Negative toe is just the opposite.

1998 Ext. Cab S-10 4.3L bagged front/lowered 6" and rear disc
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post #16 of 62 Old 03-24-2014, 05:38 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

this is great, was about to post some questions about bushings but i don't need to now.

thanks for the info
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post #17 of 62 Old 05-20-2014, 07:17 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures-unnamed.jpg haha I need to fix it
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post #18 of 62 Old 05-20-2014, 07:34 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Better fix it quick. I was riding around like this for a while and destroyed three pairs of front tires in a thousand miles.




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post #19 of 62 Old 05-21-2014, 06:10 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

so far 2 wheel bearings and all the bushings on the sway bar
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post #20 of 62 Old 11-25-2014, 09:31 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

1st post.

How do you adjust the camber and castor?











88 s10 blazer 4.3
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post #21 of 62 Old 11-25-2014, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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1st post.

How do you adjust the camber and castor?











88 s10 blazer 4.3
Depending on if you have a 4wd or 2wd truck, the control arms are mounted differently. On a 2wd, the control arms are bolted to the frame and use shims to space it away from the mounting surface to adjust camber/caster. On a 4wd, they are adjusted with eccentric cams attached to the mounting bolts. As the bolts are turned, it pushes and pulls the respective bushing in or out.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #22 of 62 Old 11-25-2014, 10:10 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

ooh boy ......that will work out fine .............

All truck pics
http://s93.photobucket.com/user/sdim...?sort=3&page=1.........


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post #23 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 03:39 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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Depending on if you have a 4wd or 2wd truck, the control arms are mounted differently. On a 2wd, the control arms are bolted to the frame and use shims to space it away from the mounting surface to adjust camber/caster. On a 4wd, they are adjusted with eccentric cams attached to the mounting bolts. As the bolts are turned, it pushes and pulls the respective bushing in or out.
Thanks for the reply, quick one at that.

I don't suppose mine have ever been messed with.

I suppose they may get out of adjustment through normal wear and tear?
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post #24 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 06:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Yes, with age and general wear and tear, the settings will change. It's from the bushings getting weak.

1998 Ext. Cab S-10 4.3L bagged front/lowered 6" and rear disc
1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #25 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 06:50 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

My son and I did a home alignment with string and measuring tape.
Some claim it's works but without doing castors shim or Camber then it won't be exact with this old car I'd guess.

We put new tie rods, linkage and ball joints on it and then aligned it.
When i turn hard it feels like my front tires have a negative camber stance.
And it kinda hops for a second. Going down the road the its straight but with play in the steering.. No play in the column but below that somewhere.

the play will often make the car feel likes it's floating either gently left or right and I have to correct slightly.. It just feels a bit awkward.
I don't want to pay for an alignment til I know I don't need more parts underneath it.





=======================================
88 s10 4.3 Tahoe=
============

Resurrected from the dead and saved from the graveyard. lol

New steering parts, ball joints, linkage, tie rods
Top end of engine reworked with new gaskets and valve seals.
Fuel pump replaced twice.
New brake cylinders
Shocks & tires
New Door hinges on Drivers door
New rear window supports
Faux sheep seat covers.
New AC compressor and accumulator, freon
new Jams..
Dash cover soon or may patch it up and paint it.
Sanding rust and primed the roof.
Hoping to repaint the car in the near future.
About $1100 spent thus far.
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post #26 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Your best bet is to follow this tutorial or take it to a shop for diagnosis. To me, without putting hands on the truck, it sounds like your toe is WAY off. Driveway alignments are meant for simply getting the vehicle to a shop. People that say they work are looking at the short term.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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post #27 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 09:25 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

This tutorial seems to be lacking in info.
It is good reference but I will take it to get an alignment.
Just hoping to save some money. I've spent a bunch bringing this vehicle back to life.
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post #28 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

In what way does it seem to lack info? Not only did I give explanations about the different aspects of an alignment, but also how to diagnose bad parts and what to look for. Wanting to save money on an alignment will cost you more in the long run. But all I can do is inform you based on my 8 years of experience in the field.

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1993 Std. Cab S-10 4.8L bagged, traditional 3.25" BD
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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In what way does it seem to lack info? Not only did I give explanations about the different aspects of an alignment, but also how to diagnose bad parts and what to look for. Wanting to save money on an alignment will cost you more in the long run. But all I can do is inform you based on my 8 years of experience in the field.
It's a good explanation and I did checks from this.

The info that lacks in that this is not meant to be a do-it-yourself alignment instruction but a check for bad parts.

The videos I found of guys doing alignments at home were mostly off-roaders who probably have a difficult time staying aligned. One guy claimed to be a alignment technician and said he could do as well at home.
But most only adjust the "toe" on those videos.
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post #30 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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I'll be covering all of the methods used to inspect your front end parts and well as what to look for in regards to play and what is considered acceptable or not.
This was never meant to be a tutorial on doing an alignment. That is what professionals with proper equipment are for. As I said before, anyone claiming that you can properly align a vehicle in a driveway and get decent tire wear over the long term is mistaken. Rather, tutorials that show you that kind of information should be used as a temporary adjustment to get you to a shop with proper tools and equipment.

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post #31 of 62 Old 11-26-2014, 10:49 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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This was never meant to be a tutorial on doing an alignment. That is what professionals with proper equipment are for. As I said before, anyone claiming that you can properly align a vehicle in a driveway and get decent tire wear over the long term is mistaken. Rather, tutorials that show you that kind of information should be used as a temporary adjustment to get you to a shop with proper tools and equipment.
I understand and appreciate this.
The videos of do-it-yourselfers made it sound so simple to do a TOE job.

I can't see doing it just to get you to a shop. Why not just drive it to the shop?
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post #32 of 62 Old 11-28-2014, 09:18 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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I understand and appreciate this.
The videos of do-it-yourselfers made it sound so simple to do a TOE job.

I can't see doing it just to get you to a shop. Why not just drive it to the shop?
Took the car to get it aligned today.
The guy told us that the center link and idler arm were bad.
And I thought I checked those.
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post #33 of 62 Old 12-07-2014, 09:28 AM
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Hi im a newbie, i have a 91 s10 4x4 4.3 i recently replaced all ball joints tie rods, idler,pitman arm,had it aligned when jacked up i see it has a negative camber.does the torsion bars adjustment affect th camber. Thanks
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post #34 of 62 Old 06-02-2015, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the severely delayed reply, but to answer the question of if torsion bars effect camber, yes they do. Any time you change a setting or part that effects the ride height of these trucks, it will effect Camber. Also, once Camber is effected, so is Caster and Toe.

When you had the truck aligned, you should have been provided a before and after printout of your vehicles specs. I would check that to see what they set your camber at.

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post #35 of 62 Old 12-17-2015, 03:09 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

DfntPntbll, this is great info. And since you are a susp. guy you may be able to help me with some info. Im putting a 2001 Blazer front half under the front of a 52 Studebaker 2R truck. The s10 frame was cut off right at the firewall so I have little to go by for setting the suspension rotated around the axle stubs. There doesn't seem to be a straight, flat surface anywhere on the subframe, suspension, except a small flat on the bottom of the crossmember. If that surface is parallel with the road surface then I have something to start from as I splice the two frames together. The picture you have showing the centerlink looks like that flat is parallel to the ground. Any help would be appreciated. I recognize the initial post is 2 years old and you may not look at it often. anybody else hav info please share. olstudieguy
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post #36 of 62 Old 12-17-2015, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Actually, I keep pretty up to date on this thread. to answer your question, yes. I do believe that the part you are speaking about is fairly parallel to the ground at ride height. Although, I have noticed that the angle of this varies wildly from truck to truck. In my opinion, you would be fine to set it at 0 degrees parallel to the ground and align from there. Is there any chance you could post a picture of the section you are working with? Seeing the amount of frame rail you have would tell alot.

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post #37 of 62 Old 12-17-2015, 09:33 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Thanks for the quick reply. We tried to post some pictures and it didn't work out. The cut line is about 8 inches from the rearmost corner of the upper control arms, not much to go from. I'm going to try to get some work done this weekend on it . If we figure this picture thing out in the future I'll stick some in the Gallery, s10 suspension , a sbc 350 and 5spd from a Silverado almost make it a s10 lol
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post #38 of 62 Old 12-17-2015, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Ok, I think I know the spot. From the control arm mounts, the frame drops twice. The plate you mentioned earlier is level with the bottom of the frame rails.

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post #39 of 62 Old 12-18-2015, 10:31 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

I looked allover the net for exactly that drawing. And this is proof of my search skills. Thank you so much. I will try to learn how to post pix and put some up when I make some progress. Have a ggod day.
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post #40 of 62 Old 12-18-2015, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Not a problem. You should also check out this pdf:

http://www.gmupfitter.com/publicat/p..._Truck_pgs.pdf

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post #41 of 62 Old 05-06-2016, 01:39 AM
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Would completely shot upper control arm bushings cause wondering and steering play. I have a lot of that plus the idler moves a decent bit. Just trying to figure if its gearbox play or not. 1997 s10 208k miles and 4x4.
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post #42 of 62 Old 05-06-2016, 07:59 AM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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Would completely shot upper control arm bushings cause wondering and steering play. I have a lot of that plus the idler moves a decent bit. Just trying to figure if its gearbox play or not. 1997 s10 208k miles and 4x4.
Yes this is very possible.
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post #43 of 62 Old 05-06-2016, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Between that and your idler arm play, yes. Any play in the steering components can, to some degree, cause a wander/pull. The only exception to that is play in the sway bar mount bushings or sway bar end links.
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post #44 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 09:11 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

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This was never meant to be a tutorial on doing an alignment. That is what professionals with proper equipment are for. As I said before, anyone claiming that you can properly align a vehicle in a driveway and get decent tire wear over the long term is mistaken. Rather, tutorials that show you that kind of information should be used as a temporary adjustment to get you to a shop with proper tools and equipment.
Not trying to be critical, but merely making an observation, beings (depending how you look at it) "So far, so good."

HOW DOES TIRE PRESSURE AFFECT CAMBER? To what extent? How many degrees? Then what about toe?
HOW DOES TIRE WEAR AFFECT CAMBER? To what extent? How many degrees? Toe?

Before asking/answering related question, this can be misleading (to those unaquainted): "Yes, with age and general wear and tear, the settings will change. It's from the bushings getting weak."
NO, there aren't any "settings" that change, not in the mind of the alignment tech.
Settings get set - and that's that. "Settings" are mechanical adjustments in nuts/bolts/shims/lobes ...

"Specifications" or "Specs" of course can (and do) change gradually with use (or change suddenly with abuse). Even consequent many if not most collisions or accidents "settings" never change ... alignment nuts/bolts/shims/lobes certainly never "wear out" - bushings may "get weak" but J.Q. Public doesn't realize these are really freakin' hard/durable rubber (shrouded in steel) subject to decay, like tires, even with nothing but TIME, and unless/until somebody adjusts the alignment or a cotter pin falls out (1-million) or somebody forgot to torque something (which CAN/DOES/WILL happen 1-in-a-while) an alignment i.e., adjustment STAYS set, and only "specs" change with worn parts. A part can break/shear/bend/collapse but that's abuse or cheap manufacturing.

I don't know if bushings tend to fail first, and then ball joints, and finally shocks/springs, or vicey versa wonka donka, but failure in one means the other is starting to gimp and limp, and I'd bet money on that even if I did lose a dollar to your donut.

Specs will change as the tires heat up. Settings are eternal - until the mechanic re-sets.

When is mentioned, "Driveway alignments are meant for simply getting the vehicle to a shop. People that say they work are looking at the short term," maybe it should be understood (or perhaps, perhaps) better yet expressly stated:
"If your last alignment was good, it's NOT JUST 'from the bushings getting weak' that caster/camber/toe is outside (FSM) specifications. Worn shocks/struts is perhaps a GREATER reason (as is tire wear and/or pressure). Tie rod ends might contribute, but steering wobble or play will likely be evident as well."

Maybe should also be stated (as this is confusing to the J.Q. public):
"If your last alignment was right/correct, and barring a collision, or bad motor mount, then *replacing* old/worn suspension components (JUST the LCA's?) ought to return (closely) the alignment, maybe even to within acceptable specs."
Also, "if steering linkages (such as BOTH inner and outer tie rods) are replaced, then a toe (and JUST a toe) alignment may well be required to return specs ... However, if just a set of outer tie rod ends is replaced - meaning no inners - and done properly - then the toe should quite possibly stay quite close to specification, i.e., provided other suspension components are good." Then lastly: "many rack & pinion vehicles (w/ no upper a-arm) will not require any caster/camber alignment whatsoever - simply replace the LCA (bushings/ball joints) and strut assemblies and little linkages then it's good-to-go."
Naturally all this assumes doing things in pairs/quads - as should normally/always be done.

Of course, FSM specification for alignment are started as "prefered" specifications, and who is to say something such as Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge https://alignyourcar.com/
would not yield "VERY decent tire wear over the long term?"

Of course, all of this suggests something important to any alignment: a well established center line. BUT YOUR LAST ALIGNMENT (with no bent/bad parts) already GAVE YOU THAT, esp. w/ rack & pinion, and so I guees it might be BETTER said:
On a lot of cars, merely requiring a tweak in the toe (and not a true, full-fledged RE-alignment), which is often the case with "R&I struts & [loaded] lower control arms" [inc. of course bushings/ball joints] then something like the Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge might be ABSOLUTELY GOLDEN?

It'd help to say what I put at the begining:
Not trying to be critical, but merely making an observation, beings (depending how you look at it) "So far, so good."
I'm no mechanic, and would never pretend to be one, let alone an alignment technition. So maybe everything I've written/suggested/thought/believed and/or read on the subject is utterly spurious dog doodoo. But what I HAVE done - after digging into the front suspension (not steering) of a grand total of about 3 cars/trucks - I know that's a SMALL number - is (also) carefully read & digest from Chilton/Haynes/FSM/Internet over the course of a couple-odd-weekends (several-dozen-hours reading) and consolodated into writing what working on the 3 cars/truck has caused me to THINK.

It's up to others (if they are so inclined) with lots of experience in all these facets to help discern where/when/if (in all practical, hands-on and driving) experience proves any/all/some of this to be partly/totally true/false. Just kicking it out there ... tending to THINK it's at least maybe 92.5% correct the way I've expressed/asked it - and have looked at Chilton/Haynes/FSM to TRY to see where I might be wrong. Truth be told, generally hoping where I've made any mistake(s) WILL get pointed out. Nothing wrong with expressing things wrong except the failure to admit (and learn from) it.

FWIW, the
Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge https://alignyourcar.com/ $99
seems to give a (total) toe to within 0.2 degrees, although I can't see why it wouldn't yeild a (total) toe accurate to 0.1 degrees? The man who invented/sells the thing seems honest. And on a FWD, 0.0 or 0.1 negative front toe, what's the difference? That's not a smart-ass question, I honestly don't KNOW why 0.0 (total) is any better than a negative 0.1 (total) - or for that matter 0.1 (total) positive. For example RWD are 2.0 or 3.0 negative front toe if I'm not mistaken. Last question, I promise; what IF "you have a 4WD, but drive in 2WD 99% of the time? What then?" Should you toe it "like" a 2WD?
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post #45 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 10:04 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

PS: it's worth mentioning the immediate point about "the well established center line" is well taken
PROVIDED one remembers it means in conjunction with an aproximately ZERO "total FWD toe to begin with" resulting from the last alignment.

Re-phrasing;
a DIY driveway alignment IS doggey doo doo bunk garbage IF both inner and outer tie rods are being replaced. And MAYBE (or realistically) it's bunk also if the UCA's need replaced.

But here's the kick; on a double wishbone the UCA (ball joint) is normally not load-bearing. It's generally kinda/sorta "along for the ride": so if ever there were a margin for error, replacing JUST the [loaded] LCA and skipping a "pro" alignment, it might get the 10K+ miles and still be relatively safe? Yet might burn tires some?? I hate to speculate on that, especially beings I'm seeing cars/trucks where ALL front suspension parts seem to go to pot all at once. It seems a dial indicator (or just old fashioned grab/wobble test) would rule in/out a "definite yes/no" and supercede speculation when human lives are at stake.
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post #46 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

Admittedly, I skimmed through all of that and got the jist of what you are trying to say. So, I'll address just main points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
HOW DOES TIRE PRESSURE AFFECT CAMBER? To what extent? How many degrees? Then what about toe?
HOW DOES TIRE WEAR AFFECT CAMBER? To what extent? How many degrees? Toe?
Tire pressure effects the specs of a given vehicle's alignment depending on the difference between each wheel from side to side. (IE- Driver's Front is at 35 psi vs Passenger Front being at 20psi would result in a different camber reading, and in some cases toe, than if they were even.)
How many degrees isn't the way you should be looking at it. There is no set amount that tire pressure will effect the specs as it will vary from vehicle to vehicle. Tire wear will also effect camber readings. For example if you have front tires that have severe edge wear (inner or outer), it will cause the tire to prefer to lean one way or the other, therefore effecting the specs. This is why it is prefered that an alignment is done when tires have either been replaced, rotated, or already show signs of minimal edge wear. Again, the amount it effects the specs is different depending on the amount of wear, bushing integrity (which is one of the first things that should be checked), tire pressure, tire size, and type of suspension the vehicle has. Toe can be effected, but usually isn't except for extreme situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
Before asking/answering related question, this can be misleading (to those unaquainted): "Yes, with age and general wear and tear, the settings will change. It's from the bushings getting weak."
NO, there aren't any "settings" that change, not in the mind of the alignment tech.
Settings get set - and that's that. "Settings" are mechanical adjustments in nuts/bolts/shims/lobes ...
Correct , I used the wrong word which can be misleading to someone who doesn't know the difference. If not abused or other issues arise with bushings and the like, an alignment will stay true until outside forces (collisions our failing parts/bushings) come into play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
When is mentioned, "Driveway alignments are meant for simply getting the vehicle to a shop. People that say they work are looking at the short term," maybe it should be understood (or perhaps, perhaps) better yet expressly stated:
"If your last alignment was good, it's NOT JUST 'from the bushings getting weak' that caster/camber/toe is outside (FSM) specifications. Worn shocks/struts is perhaps a GREATER reason (as is tire wear and/or pressure). Tie rod ends might contribute, but steering wobble or play will likely be evident as well."
No. A driveway alignment is not meant to be a final solution. Using a tape measure will get you close, but not where it should be in order to assure proper tire wear for the life of the tires (Tread wear warranties are now upwards of 100,000 miles on some models of tires). Even a computerized alignment can't guarantee proper wear over that length of time with out routine checks and adjustments if needed. Many thing effect tire wear. Improper tire pressure being the leading cause next to improper alignment. Proper tire pressure isn't what your door placard or tire sidewall states either. Proper tire pressure is the pressure your tires have the optimal contact patch given your vehicle weight and current tire size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
Maybe should also be stated (as this is confusing to the J.Q. public):
"If your last alignment was right/correct, and barring a collision, or bad motor mount, then *replacing* old/worn suspension components (JUST the LCA's?) ought to return (closely) the alignment, maybe even to within acceptable specs."
Also, "if steering linkages (such as BOTH inner and outer tie rods) are replaced, then a toe (and JUST a toe) alignment may well be required to return specs ... However, if just a set of outer tie rod ends is replaced - meaning no inners - and done properly - then the toe should quite possibly stay quite close to specification, i.e., provided other suspension components are good." Then lastly: "many rack & pinion vehicles (w/ no upper a-arm) will not require any caster/camber alignment whatsoever - simply replace the LCA (bushings/ball joints) and strut assemblies and little linkages then it's good-to-go."
Naturally all this assumes doing things in pairs/quads - as should normally/always be done.
If you replace a part like a control arm, strut, tie rod, etc. you need an alignment. Flat out. If a part is replaced, there was a reason for it. Parts don't wear out in just a day or even a week. If you have a part that is worn out, it has already thrown your specs out of acceptable tolerance, which will not necessarily be the same if you just slap a new part in there. Even counting threads when replacing a tie rod or tie rod end will not get you back to "acceptable specs". Control arms are the same way. You can't guarantee that a control arm from one manufacturer is 100% perfect in their production of a part, even if they say "OEM quality or better".

Vehicles with rack & pinion style suspensions are more susceptible to parts being changed. I've seen many where simply changing the lower control arm required, at the least, loosening the bolts connecting the strut to the knuckle. When you do that, camber changes. Very often, I find myself making camber adjustments to vehicles with struts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
Of course, FSM specification for alignment are started as "prefered" specifications, and who is to say something such as Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge https://alignyourcar.com/
would not yield "VERY decent tire wear over the long term?"

Of course, all of this suggests something important to any alignment: a well established center line. BUT YOUR LAST ALIGNMENT (with no bent/bad parts) already GAVE YOU THAT, esp. w/ rack & pinion, and so I guees it might be BETTER said:
On a lot of cars, merely requiring a tweak in the toe (and not a true, full-fledged RE-alignment), which is often the case with "R&I struts & [loaded] lower control arms" [inc. of course bushings/ball joints] then something like the Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge might be ABSOLUTELY GOLDEN?
This would fall under "driveway alignments". That is unless you can 100% guarantee that the platform the alignment was performed (I assume you're thinking a car port slab) is perfectly level on both axis. Even then I would still take it to a reputable shop to be sure (this is where researching the shops and meeting the technicians comes into play).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
It'd help to say what I put at the begining:
Not trying to be critical, but merely making an observation, beings (depending how you look at it) "So far, so good."
I'm no mechanic, and would never pretend to be one, let alone an alignment technition. So maybe everything I've written/suggested/thought/believed and/or read on the subject is utterly spurious dog doodoo. But what I HAVE done - after digging into the front suspension (not steering) of a grand total of about 3 cars/trucks - I know that's a SMALL number - is (also) carefully read & digest from Chilton/Haynes/FSM/Internet over the course of a couple-odd-weekends (several-dozen-hours reading) and consolodated into writing what working on the 3 cars/truck has caused me to THINK.

It's up to others (if they are so inclined) with lots of experience in all these facets to help discern where/when/if (in all practical, hands-on and driving) experience proves any/all/some of this to be partly/totally true/false. Just kicking it out there ... tending to THINK it's at least maybe 92.5% correct the way I've expressed/asked it - and have looked at Chilton/Haynes/FSM to TRY to see where I might be wrong. Truth be told, generally hoping where I've made any mistake(s) WILL get pointed out. Nothing wrong with expressing things wrong except the failure to admit (and learn from) it.
While I appreciate your drive and will to learn about these things, a lot of what you said was misinformation resulting from theoretical education (lots of books and limited real world experience). As I said in my original post, I'm by no means 100% perfect nor do I know everything there is or ever will be to know about suspension and alignments. Just last week I learned something new. However, my 12 years of hands on experience in a shop dealing with thousands (not exaggerating) of vehicles over the coarse of that time, has shown me that Chilton/Haynes/FSM while very good starting points for understanding how these things work and what effects different things at different times are limited in most areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman
FWIW, the Trackace Laser Wheel Alignment Gauge https://alignyourcar.com/ $99
seems to give a (total) toe to within 0.2 degrees, although I can't see why it wouldn't yeild a (total) toe accurate to 0.1 degrees? The man who invented/sells the thing seems honest. And on a FWD, 0.0 or 0.1 negative front toe, what's the difference? That's not a smart-ass question, I honestly don't KNOW why 0.0 (total) is any better than a negative 0.1 (total) - or for that matter 0.1 (total) positive. For example RWD are 2.0 or 3.0 negative front toe if I'm not mistaken. Last question, I promise; what IF "you have a 4WD, but drive in 2WD 99% of the time? What then?" Should you toe it "like" a 2WD?
While the difference between 0.0 and 0.1 seams very small (and it is), there is a BIG difference when you are talking about total toe, much less individual toe. To put it into perspective, the machine I use at work reads 0.01 for both individual toe an total toe. That's 10 times more accurate. In terms of tire wear, which is most effected by total toe, that is the difference between a nice even wear pattern and this:


So, that takes me back to that being a "driveway alignment" which is meant to get you close enough to get it to a shop. Which can be done even easier and cheaper with a tape measure. Either way, a visit to your local mechanic for a REAL alignment is highly advised. Also, an alignment at the shop I work at is half the cost of the tool you linked (assuming shims aren't needed and a vehicle has all the adjustment points needed).

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post #47 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman View Post
PS: it's worth mentioning the immediate point about "the well established center line" is well taken
PROVIDED one remembers it means in conjunction with an aproximately ZERO "total FWD toe to begin with" resulting from the last alignment.

Re-phrasing;
a DIY driveway alignment IS doggey doo doo bunk garbage IF both inner and outer tie rods are being replaced. And MAYBE (or realistically) it's bunk also if the UCA's need replaced.

But here's the kick; on a double wishbone the UCA (ball joint) is normally not load-bearing. It's generally kinda/sorta "along for the ride": so if ever there were a margin for error, replacing JUST the [loaded] LCA and skipping a "pro" alignment, it might get the 10K+ miles and still be relatively safe? Yet might burn tires some?? I hate to speculate on that, especially beings I'm seeing cars/trucks where ALL front suspension parts seem to go to pot all at once. It seems a dial indicator (or just old fashioned grab/wobble test) would rule in/out a "definite yes/no" and supercede speculation when human lives are at stake.
If a part is replaced, take it to be aligned. You can't garruantee it'll be right. You will burn off the tires. "OE quality or better" doesn't translate to "don't worry about aligning it, it's close enough".
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post #48 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 10:52 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

"If you replace a part like a control arm, strut, tie rod, etc. you need an alignment. Flat out."

Is why I NEVER mentioned that. I spoke of replacing parts, worn parts, all worn parts, in groups, and I'm a bit surprised any conrary inference was made.
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post #49 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 11:02 PM
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Re: Suspension inspection Tutorial and Alignment Fundamentals/Procedures

"If you have a part that is worn out, it has already thrown your specs out of acceptable tolerance, which will not necessarily be the same if you just slap a new part in there."

No. Rather, this is counter reasoning to a specious argument.

"slap a new part in there" is against the spirit of (and literal content of) most/all of what I'd suggested. It presumes a vagueness that wasn't intended. I'm not sure it adds, and perhaps obscures the paplpable truth about the case of FWD front toe-only cars. A front-toe car (and there are hundereds of thousands at least) suggests "only a LCA (no upper a-arm) car where the FSM (almost always) or at bare minimum FREQUENTLY states categoricaly w/r/t (front) alignment:
Step 1) Replace worn parts
Step 2) Adjust front toe. End of Story. There IS NO caster/camber recomended.
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post #50 of 62 Old 07-16-2017, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojarraman View Post
"If you replace a part like a control arm, strut, tie rod, etc. you need an alignment. Flat out."

Is why I NEVER mentioned that. I spoke of replacing parts, worn parts, all worn parts, in groups, and I'm a bit surprised any conrary inference was made.
I said that because only the parts that are worn, damaged, or otherwise out of specification should be replaced. If a tie rod is the only bad part, you wouldn't replace everything or anything else for that matter.
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