Tyre fittters!

Yesterday I had a set of four tyres fitted to my Fiesta. I chose mid-range ones, that had to be ordered in. The company I used is a local independent,
with a good reputation.
They were probably not the cheapest, but they have a comfortable waiting area with a clean toilet (giving my age away here!), and there is generally not a queue.
I asked for the tracking to be checked; I guessed it was out as the steering wheel was not straight, and the car had a tendency to wander at low speeds. They showed me a printout which indicated mis-alignment, reset the tracking, then showed me another printout showing it as correct.
I drove away 360UKP lighter, but perfectly happy.
This morning, as I always do after such times, I loosened, then re-torqued the wheel nuts, and checked the tyre pressures.
Two of the wheel nuts were so tight that I had to jump up and down on my extending breaker bar to undo them. The other were all much too tight, except for all the locking ones, which I believe were under-tightened.
In a roadside puncture situation there is not a chance I could have fitted the spare.
The front tyre pressures were roughly right, except they varied by 2psi from one side to the other. The rear tyres were 32psi; the correct pressure is 26psi.
Why can't such businesses get it right?
Chris
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On 18/10/2017 11:34, Chris Whelan wrote:

I've not had a bad experience like that for years, seemed much more common years ago- the independents I've used actually use a torque wrench!
Mind you, I change wheels/tyres November and March, so often have the tyres fitted to wheels off the car, and fit the wheels myself.
As fro pressure, most of them just do 30psi :-/
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Chris Whelan wrote:

I bought the missus a telescopic wheel nut wrench for this very reason. Although I expect she would just call out the AA if a tyre went flat. I always assume they never needed to adjust the tracking as I've never once seen any tell-tale marks on the tracking rods or ends.

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Dan S. MacAbre wrote:
[...]

They don't normally check unless you ask. They definitely adjusted mine; the steering wheel is straight, and has less tendency to wander ot very low speeds.
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Chris Whelan wrote:

They did ask, and charged for it :-) But like I say, I eventually decided that since it never seemed to get touched, they weren't actually doing anything that would disturb it.
I've changed the track-rod ends a couple of times (first pair I bought were badly made with a boot guaranteed to get crushed as soon as the nut got tightened), but I line up the wheels very approximately with a long piece of wood from front to back. It seems happy enough, but then I'm not exactly an exciting driver :-)

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On 18/10/2017 13:14, Dan S. MacAbre wrote:

Most places don't check the tracking unless you ask them.
On the other hand, some of the National chain retailers will offer a free 10 point safety check including tracking. There is a good chance that they will find your tracking out and then want to charge £40 for the front wheels and £20 for each of the back wheels, and add VAT.
My local independent charged £25 for checking and adjusting when I recently had the front two tyres replaced. It took around 15/20 minutes to put the car on the lift, set-up the equipment and for the adjustment.
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On 18/10/2017 11:34, Chris Whelan wrote:

Because most their customers don't care as they wouldn't dream of checking tyre pressures let alone changing a wheel themselves - even if they had a "spare"?
The clue was the parenthetical comment in your second para ;)
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Having watched a fitter using a torque wrench recently, he just used it as picked up. Didn't check the torque setting against a chart. And put so much effort into it he might as well have just used a plain lever of the same length. A torque wrench does not limit the torque if you carry on pushing hard after it clicks.
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I've seen that, too.
I'm in the middle of trying to sort out wheels and tyres on my "new" range Rover, which came with RRSport wheels and a spare tyre but no spare wheel. The wheel nuts are different between RR's and RRS's of this vintage. Mine had the wrong wheel nuts. It has taken a lot of online faffing and droning on forums to get to a stage where I have wheels and nuts about to be delivered here. In the middle of all this, working through my 2-page list of faults to get sorted, I decided the tracking needed sorting before the inside edge of the front tyres got down to the fibre. Booked into ATS ("we don't do tracking, we do wheel alignment") for 4-wheel alignment. Arrived and was just sent away because they said the tyres were too worn to do the tracking. Have had problems before with ATS not being able to fit trailer tyres without trapping the tubes. Rang Qwik-Fit, who offered a free wheel alignment check. Had it done and all came out good apart from one small toe in error.
Not sure of any of them, but I won't be going back to ATS.
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I have never had toe-in done perfectly on a car with R&P steering. Always ends up with the steering wheel not quite pointing ahead. Even if it came from the factory correctly set and had nothing altered since. Generally, they simply set the toe-in to be within tolerance, but not adjust it either side equally, or whatever.
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On 18/10/2017 17:15, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

It is something I often correct on services, so lots of places are like that, a nearby place with a laser set up first locks the steering wheel in the straight ahead position, before checking the tracking, it is the best way.
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MrCheerful wrote:
[...]

Yep, the place I used yesterday has new premises and equipment, and used a gadget to lock the steering wheel.
The machine they used looked mighty complex, and produced a printout with alignment details of more than tracking.
Chris
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The printout from Kwik Fit that I got for free was like that.
The question is whether to go somewhere else cheaper after I get all 4 wheels sorted out with the correct nuts and reasonable tyres, or should I go back to KwikFit who say their £96 4-wheel alignment comes with a 2 year warranty and during that 2 years they will re-align multiple times free of charge. It has been suggested to me that this is just an invitation to return so that they can generate work on suspension components.
It is a Range Rover and there are an awful lot of dangly bits underneath that clonk over bumps and some of which need specialist diagnostics for the computer settings after replacement.
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But is the steering wheel 100% spot on?
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

As far as one can tell by driving, yes - perfectly.
Having the tracking correct but the steering wheel not centred, though irritating, is actually the lesser of two evils. Handling will be as the manufacturer intended, and tyre wear will be minimised.
In the past I've had cars where tracking adjustment put the steering wheel off centre, and I've ended up correcting it myself.
Chris
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With R&P steering, the rack is part of the track rod assembly. With ball joints at either end. If it is not perfectly central, the geometry of the steering will not be 100% correct with suspension movement.
A car usually comes new with this spot on. So it must be possible when adjusting the toe-in too. My guess is it simply takes too much time.
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Dave Plowman (News) expressed precisely :

The steering wheel is centered, by adjusting the track rod ends - screw on end in half a turn, screw the other end out half a turn. No reason why the steering wheel cannot be both centred and the tow-in/toe-out be accurate - though many mechanics fail to bother and just adjust one end and leave it at that. Me, I would take it back and have them do the job properly.
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I know how it should be done. And know - at least round here - it generally isn't.
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Chris Whelan wrote:

First time I changed the track rod ends on me old Fiesta, even though I counted how many times I had to turn each one to get it off (in the hope that the new ones would be exactly the same), I ended up with a steering wheel about 45 degrees out. Annoying, but not worth taking everything off to again to straighten it. Maybe when I was more in the mood :-) As luck would have it, the new ones had been made with the vertical shaft too short, so the boots were destroyed within a year. When I replaced them again, I spent a lot more time trying to get the two sides equal, but it's still a tiny bit out. More annoying is the vinyl coating flaking off. If they still make Tyrewall Black, I might try painting it with that.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:
[...]

I've just looked at the printouts in more detail, and there is a graphic of a steering wheel labelled 'Steer Ahead' that shows a value in degrees in the 'before', and 0 in the 'after', so I'm guessing the machine also detects when the steering wheel is not straight.
The alignment machine was a Hunter Hawkeye Elite; I can't find a price as they mainly seem to be leased.
Chris
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