Who does the best wheel alignments?

1) After all the damage to my wheels, etc. I figure I should have the wheels aligned. A toyota.
Who do you think does the best job? A Toyotal dealer, Firestone, PepBoys, or a gas station with busy service bays who was recommended?
Someone I know and trust also gave a particular guy at Pep Boys a very high recommendation yesterday.
The dealer is having a sale this month, so it's the same price as Firestone
I was going to take it to the dealer, because I figured that values that are always fine on cars that only hit chuck holes etc. might be messed up on mine, given that I knocked a chunk out of my aluminum wheel. I've considered the possibility I rotated the entire hub assembly on the strut, though I can find no evidence that I did that**
But a guy I was reading on the web felt that the mechanics at dealers are all getting paid acc. to flat rate, and that they rush the job to make more money.
2) Follow=up on my car. Last Tuesday, I think it was, I finished the front and just as I was about to take it around the block for a test drive, a young neighbor says, "You know the rear tire is pointing the wrong direction!" Actually I hadn't noticed. When I took the tire off, closer to the center line than to the hub, I saw that on the right rear tire, the forward locating arm was bent, about 25 degrees!
The part is just a metal rod maybe 7/8" thick with a hole on each end.
How much does Toyota want for the part?
$159, can you believe it? Is that because prices in general have gone up, or is it because it's a foreign car? And Toyota wanted $210 to put it on. Firestone said it was a 1.1 hour job and wanted $121 to put it on. And then 80 for wheel alignment, but I'm not complaining about that.
There are at least two after-market makers of the part and Advance Auto sells one for 90 dollars. (The only way you can buy it is Ship to Home)
Before I found that, I tried
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and it's a great page. Check it out. It has a long list of names of parts to search for, the longest list I've seen, and it has a built in interchange book, so it offers up others models and years that used the same part. (In my case, the Avalon and Lexus used the same part, for more than one year.) Many of them are graded A, B, or C, and it has the name, web address, real address, email address, and phone number, and distance from the zip code I entered, of the dealer, and added description of the part, like what color it is for a body part.
It just tells you what yards have your part, and then you call the yard, verify that it's the right part, and do all your dealings with the yard, not with car-part.com. I guess recyclers ;-) and junkyards pay to list the part, whether it sells or not, since I don't think car-part has any way to know if the part ever sells. Right?
I found 4 used part outlets not too far from me that I didnt' know about. Well one I knew about and had tried to find, but there was no sign on the road and I gave up. Now I have the address and they're on a side road. $50. He says he has 24 of them. If it rains, I'll pick it up tomorrow. If it doesn't, I still have work to do at home. So instead of $369, it will be $50 and 1 or 2 hours of my time to install,. I know I'm slow, but it's only got two bolts. I don't know how it can take more than an hour once the car is jacked up and on stands. Of course it always does take longer than I expect.
After this part is installed, I can return the car I've borrowed (Fortunately for me, my friend's wife just never drives anymore, so she has it seems no interest in getting the car back. She says, "whatever my husband says" )
All it will need is alignment.
Reply to
micky
Dealers tend to do good work, but at the highst prices.
The chain stores are a crap shoot. You my get a good guy, you may get the janitor.
We have a local tire shop that is good. Ask around and see if you can find a similar place.
Reply to
Ed Pawlowski
don't know about the toyota car, but I once hit a deer in Colorado going about 65mph [me, not the deer] hit the brakes enough to get the car speed down to ?? maybe 45 before impact, plus the screeching tires spooked the deer so he tried to change direction and fell under the car. Else very likely would have come up over the hood and ended up in wife's lap. Impact was LOUD! Car even lurched up going over.
The car drove a bit wonky after that, so went to several places for an alignment, One place even commented about, boy this adjustment is waaay over. No idea what he meant, but drove a bit better, but still drove wonky. Finally at a 'generic' gas station service bin I was telling the guy about the impact and how car drives wonky and won't 'hold alignment. He went over to the hood, pushed down on the right fender [impact side] went over to left fender pushed down. He then put it up on the rack and pulled a broken shock out of the right side, suggested I change both, only because HE found the true problem, I rewarded him with purchasing two shocks. He undid the chain alignment's efforts and set up the front. After that it drove just as well as before. So the WHOLE problem was that the shock had lost ALL drag. It was like not having a shock in there. Learned a lot from that experience. Just share, because *if* you hit something AND you have shocks, you may have killed one shock and can no longer be able to get the front end back to what it should be. No matter how much you work on adjustments.
Reply to
RobertMacy
wrote:
Thanks. I don't think I would have thought of that any more than you did. So far, I've only driven it about a quarter mile at 20 MPH max.
If I get the part tomorrow, weather is supposed to be good Th. and Fr, and I hope to start test driving Thursday afternoon.
Yeah, a guy at a gas station could be just as good. I used to have a gas station that fixed my car and was in walking distance. But he made 3 mistakes over 2 years and I stopped going to him, and since then, Shell has torn it down and rebuillt it with no service bays, only a 7-11 type store.
Reply to
micky
That was just about the speed where the front end would go into a 'swirling' pattern. Caused not by misalignment but the instability of a dead shock.
I used to have one of those 'local' mechanics. Awesome skill. He could tighten the license plate bolt and the car would run better. Sure miss being able to take it to someone with those abilities. He used to say the problem could be either mechanical, or electrical. Probably not anything else.
Reply to
RobertMacy
In this case I would suggest a dealer. For a couple reasons. One is that they are familiar with your make of vehicle far more than a chain store, and as such the tech may notice other damage or issues that you didn't see. Two is that some vehicles need additional parts if they do need things moved for an alignment, the dealer will likely have those on hand. Pretty much ALL techs get paid flat rate these days. So, yes they try to get things done. BUT if they know how to run the machine and pay attention it will turn out OK.
Make sure you specify a 4 wheel alignment, that damaged radius rod may have tweaked other parts in the rear as well. I would check to make sure that rim isn't bent and that nothing else was damaged.
--
Steve W.
Reply to
Steve W.
An alignment shop.
Ask your local kid racer where the local alignment shop is. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Reply to
Scott Dorsey
wrote:
You want an alignment specialist. Some dealers have them, most do not Some tire shops like firestone or PepBoys have someone who knows alignments inside out and backwards - most do not. In my long experience in the automotive industry, a small busy shop who does LOTS of alignments is generally your best bet. The guy does alignments all day - he does them for local body shops and dealers as well as his own clients, so he gets really good at it, and the prices are usually VERY competetive.
Reply to
clare
wrote:
In the case of the Toyota, it has strut suspension and other than bending the strut, having the shock fail from the impact described is a REAL long shot. Like 1 in 10,000 long shot.
Reply to
clare
wrote:
You want to pray REAL HARD you didn't tweak the uni-body - that's like bending the frame but the whole car body gets bent out of shape and it needs to be pulled back to alignment on a unicoupe rack.
Reply to
clare
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I think you're doing the right thing by learning as much as you can first. Then at least you can talk intelligently to someone and judge how qualified they are to do the work.
When I need to get a referral for some kind of work that I'm not familiar with, I generally check with the independent places that sell the type of materials that the job would call for. (Indept auto parts shop for mechanics, paint stores for painters, etc.) Then if it's something expensive or really important that they don't screw it up, I get at least 3 references from them and call each one. Takes some time, but this method has worked well for me every time.
I can think of several times that I did not check first. Like the plumber that came over drunk to work on a gas pipe. Or the tree trimmer that was careless and nearly fell out of a tree.
Reply to
Guv Bob
RobertMacy posted for all of us...
I may not have read all messages.
Obviously they did a crappy job. Suspension inspection is one of the first things to perform. An honorable shop does not sell parts you do not need. The shop makes good money and gets a good reputation from honesty.
A tipoff would have been the fur underneath.
Claire would you agree with this?
--
Tekkie
Reply to
Tekkie®
Well, a couple days ago I had the top down about half way, and when I put the top up again, it met the windshield properly.
In 1970, I lent my 1965 Pontiac Catalina convertible to a young guy and within an hour he ran a stop sign in a school zone, because, he said, I pickup camper was parked where he couldn't see the sign.
After that, the pins in the top were at least an inch from the matching holes in the windshield frame. For one or two years. Then they were perfect for one or two years, and then they were just as bad as before for one or two years.
So the fact that the top matched the windshield on this one occasion is encouraging.
Reply to
micky
I saw that (170 instead of 80, here) and I thought about it, especially in a case like this. in the post I just posted, I talk about how the fame jumped around in a previous car that was hit, so I can see needing more than one alignment.
Reply to
micky
I googled for that and couldn't find anything.
I don't know anyone like that. Maybe there are still hot-rod clubs. What would they be called now?
Reply to
micky
.............
I'll keep looking.
Becaise of my current bad alignment, it would probaboy wear out my tires to go there.
Reply to
micky
wrote:
They took 4 tries fixing my mothers tire before they figured out that it leaked around the valve once, so I stopped going there.
But the guy at Autozone named a guy there who he described in glowing terms.
Oren just said "Kentucky Fried Chicken is not the place to go in Baltimore!". Now that's strange because the other place the same guy recommended was on Rte 40 right next to KFC and close to McDonalds. It has changed its name so he couldn't remember the name, but I can find it. Oren, be assured, I won't go to KFC but to the shop next door.
Reply to
micky
wrote:
You're probably right about the dealer being best in this situation. I'm too susceptible to suggestions -- I've noticed this in other situations too -- like this one guy I've never met on a web page I've never heard of who thinks dealers are a bad idea.
Which is the radius rod?
Is that the same as the rear lower control arm, the locating arm, the rear lower suspension arm #1 (I think that's what the shop manual calls it)? I think it has other names too. Makes it hard to shop for it.
Reply to
micky

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