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Car aligned, steering wheel straight when on the rack, offset on the road.

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Car aligned, steering wheel straight when on the rack, offset on the road.

Old 06-03-19, 09:06 PM
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Car aligned, steering wheel straight when on the rack, offset on the road.

FD with heim outer tie rods (not sure this matters, just posting for clarity).

I had the car aligned a while back without issue. Near the end of last summer, my steering rack developed a leak, and I ended up sending it off to Maval to have it rebuilt in April. When I got it back, it was in a sealed bag to keep it center-locked. There was a note that said to make sure to not move it from center when installing. When I removed the rack originally, I tried to take note of measurements/alignment of everything, and when reinstalling I tried to put it back to where it was. I can't guarantee that I didn't bump it from center-lock, though. After I got the rack in, I drove the car to a local shop to have it aligned. They gave me the print out, the specs looked fine based on what I asked for, but when I got on the road the steering wheel was offset to the left. Drove the car back, they checked it to verify, I left again, still offset. Took the tech for a ride to show him it was off, came back put it back on the rack, left again, still off. At this point I had somewhere else to be, so I just intended to take it back later.

I took it back today, and they threw it back on the rack. They asked me to come check it out, and sure enough the steering wheel was locked in place completely straight, and their rack said everything was ok. We took a look at everything, I had him reset toe anyway, and when I left the wheel was still off. I haven't measured it exactly, but there is somewhere between 1/4" and 1/2" of turn to make the wheel straight (which, if adjusted, makes the car track to the right). It's very noticeable when driving.

If the wheel is locked straight, and the rack is showing that the specs are all set, what would cause the wheel to be offset once I get it off the rack and back onto the road? There is no real slop or play in the steering as far as I can tell.
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Old 06-03-19, 09:17 PM
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If car had accurate 4 wheel alignment then crown in the road would still cause the steering wheel to go to the left going straight. More toe and or more camber accentuates this tendency (toe or camber thrust).

If it just had a front end alignment and not rear then rear thrust angle could cause the steering wheel to be turned when going straight even if the road had no crown.

We need more info from you to know what is going on.
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Old 06-03-19, 10:27 PM
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It was a 4 wheel alignment. Front total toe is 0.01*, steer ahead 0.01*, rear total toe 0.05*, thrust angle -0.03*. I can post the entire sheet later if it's more helpful.
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Old 06-03-19, 10:38 PM
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Have you had a chance to verify the steering wheel still ***** to the Left when driving on flat pavement (as in not a road crowned for drainage)?

Never had an alignment shop that wasnt able to get rear thrust angle to 0.00, but 0.03deg doesnt sound like a lot either.
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Old 06-04-19, 12:50 PM
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Yes and no. I can tell you that prior to this alignment, the same roads had me driving with the wheel totally straight. In between the alignment in April and yesterday, I drove around a bunch and it was offset everywhere. I didn't specifically try to find the most flat parking lot to verify, but based on everything else I assume the results would be the same.

Yeah, I'm far from an expert on suspension/alignment setups, but everything on paper seems fine, and when the car was on the rack the steering wheel was totally straight. I have no idea what would cause this. The only variables are the rebuilt rack (still my rack, I marked it before sending it to Maval), and I suppose the different alignment rack/tech.
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Old 06-04-19, 04:33 PM
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Not all wheel alignment places are created equal, some are staffed by people who don't know their **** from their elbow. How close are your tyres to the lower wishbone at left and right lock?
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Old 06-04-19, 04:50 PM
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You are 100% correct on that, but I guess what I'm confused by is the machine reading "correctly" with the steering wheel straight, and then the steering being off once back on the road. Most of the scenarios in my head that would cause this would also cause the car to track oddly or read oddly on the alignment rack itself. I can't come up with a reason that this is happening. Like I said though, not an alignment expert by any stretch.

I'll take a look at the lock to lock turn and the tires to wishbone gap and report back. I think it might also be worth going to a shop that offers a "free alignment check" just to get a readout confirming the first shop's reading.
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Old 06-05-19, 06:27 PM
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The wheel does not have the same lock to lock radius, with the lock to the right not rotating as far (clockwise) as the lock to the left (counterclockwise). I also tried to roughly gauge control arm to inner tire dimensions. These are rough numbers because I was just using a measuring tape and eyeballing it, but I think the differences are large enough to prove the point.

The left control arm to inner tire is approximately 13.5".
The right control arm to inner tire is approximately 14".
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Old 06-06-19, 06:00 AM
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Doesn't sound absolutely horrible. Would be likely the rack was a few splines out when the uni was reattached, at least if the experience here is anything to go by.....and then compensated with the rod end adjustment in the straight ahead. If you were careful, unscrewing the end, counting and marking both it and the tie rod, it might tell a tale one side to the other?
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Old 06-06-19, 08:26 AM
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Would that be causing my issue though? I would think that, even if my lock to lock radius were off due to the rack being a few splines off, the alignment should still result in everything being straight. I'd just lose a little turn radius in one direction.
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Old 06-06-19, 11:04 AM
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Can you post your full alignment sheet?
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Old 06-06-19, 12:20 PM
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If the actual paper is better for readability, I can post it later when I get home. I wrote the numbers down for other reasons so I do have those available -

LF RF
Camber . -1.9* -1.9*
Caster . 5.1* . 5.2*
Toe . 0.01* . 0.00*
Total toe . 0.01*
Steer ahead 0.01*

LR RR
Camber . -1.5* -1.4*
Toe . 0.00* . 0.05*
Total toe . 0.05*
Thrust angle -0.03*
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Old 06-06-19, 12:31 PM
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Are you tire pressures all set equal as well? The alignment numbers look good, although the zero toe may be playing a role here.

Typically not done on a street car, but aligning the car with you in it may help. The alignment numbers can change quite a bit when the driver is in the car.

If everything on the suspension is torqued correctly, tire pressures set and nothing is worn out, I would have the alignment checked with YOU in the driver seat.

You could also have them set the toe-in just a hair, it may help with your steering centering issues. Typically zero toe or toe out will make the car wander more.
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Old 06-06-19, 12:44 PM
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I'll double check tire pressures, but as of last check they were all equal.

I'm maybe 170lbs, so while I think my weight could play a factor, I don't know that it would cause the drastic differences I'm seeing. I've never experienced an issue before, anyway. I guess it's something to consider, though.
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Old 06-06-19, 12:46 PM
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Have them align it with you in the car and have them dial in just a touch of "TOE IN" on the front equally on both sides and your problem will probably go away.

I personally ONLY align my cars (even my Duramax truck) with me in it. The driver can change the specs quite a bit.
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Old 06-08-19, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Coup D E'Tat View Post
You are 100% correct on that, but I guess what I'm confused by is the machine reading "correctly" with the steering wheel straight, and then the steering being off once back on the road.
i think i would add a smidge of rear toe also, zero toe all the way around can be a little wander prone.

in addition to all of the other things listed, the machines need to be calibrated periodically.

if you go to a race track and go through the pits even the high end guys use string, it is self calibrating...
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Old 06-16-19, 02:42 PM
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I ended up taking the car to a different shop for a "free alignment check", and their rack gave a very different printout from what the original rack listed. With that, I called the corporate number for the first shop, and they sent me to a different location to have them align the car again. I had them go over the entire alignment, and in the end the car drives straight with the wheel straight. I don't know if the other location was rack error or tech error, but something was off.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.
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