How are alignments performed?

I'm about to go in for an alignment and I'm wondering what nuts/bolts do they move to do an alignment. The only thing I can think of that's adjustable on a front wheel drive car is where the tie rods connect. Is
this where they make the adjustments? Can somebody please provide an overview?
Thanks
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AV,
It depends on the model of car. For the most part a 4 wheel alignment can be performed. Front camber/caster is adjustable on most cars at the top of the struts. Front toe is adjusted at the tie rods.
Rear camber/caster is seldom adjustable, again it depends on the model. Rear toe is adjusted using a tie rod type adjuster or a cam on the inner arm.
Keep in mind this is a basic description. Every vehicle is different.
John

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Do they have to pull the tie rod ends off?

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No.

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One can not pull a tie rod end off, they must be screwed off. ;)
mike hunt
AV wrote:

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Very few cars now have "fully" adjustable front suspension. Most are toe adjustments only. Some will give caster, some camber some both, but few in numbers. Rear adjustment is mostly toe as well. Caster is generally not adjustable in the rear, camber is to a limited degree. As an example, Topaz/Tempo toe only front and rear. Taurus toe only front and rear. Kits are sold to provide rear camber adjustments on the Taurus, but does not come from the factory adjustable. Fox body cars T-bird, Mustang front toe only, and a modified ( not a true separate camber/caster ) adjustment. CV fully adjustable front suspension.

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Last time I got an alignment it was at the Pep Boys on 197 near Laurel, MD.
The firs time I brought it in, I specifically mentioned that I had recently replace the tie rod ends and that the sterring wheel was off and needed to be straightened. All they did was align the wheels as per their alignment rack, when I got the car back the steering wheel was still off centered. When I questioned the supervisor, he brought out the "mechanic", who was a stupid Mexican who only knows how to use the alignment machine, but appeareantly knows nothing about how to do an actual alignment, even after I specifically told him how to fix the problem. The manager on duty told me to take it up with the manager who works during the day. When I took it back during the week on the day and spoke to the manager, they agreed wit me that the steering wheel should be centered as part of an alignment and their regular day mechanic was able to fix the problem correctly, whic they did do as warranty work, so I didn't have to pay them again, etc. It was a pin to bring my car in twice, etc but at least I got it done right the second time.
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