1999 Windstar Camber alignment


Goldlexus
04-05-2008, 06:43 PM
I took my Windstar to Les Schwab's for a front end alignment. I was told it would cost about $54 dollars. Okay. They took my car and came back and said that I needed new struts, new tie rod ends, and a camber kit because the camber was not adjustable. All to the tune of $750 dollars! I told them not to do the work.
My question is is the camber truely not adjustable in these Windstars? I do have inside tire wear.
Also I replaced the tie rod ends 2 years ago. How long should those last? I drive just around town.
The struts apparently have a small leak and being as they say I need a camber kit they might as well replace the struts.
Is the amount they quoted me reasonable? I wasn't prepared for a seven hundred dollar repair when I took it in for a fifty four dollar alignment. Turned down the repair so I could research this further.

12Ounce
04-05-2008, 06:55 PM
http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=893692&highlight=alignment

Goldlexus
04-05-2008, 07:25 PM
Thanks for the reply but the link doesn't really help me. I am not a mechanic, I have to rely on a shop to do any work. I just want to make sure what I was told was accurate regarding the camber, whether or not the price is reasonable. Also the life expectance of tie rod ends, the shop said they were a little loose. I replaced those 2 years ago.

tartersauce
04-05-2008, 07:46 PM
Tie Rods should last 60 to 100k Depends on road conditions and if your Tie rods boots are still keeping water out. Since you have a Rack, You only have two regular tie rods.. OUTER ties. The Inner tie rods are screwed into the Rack itself. They also wear! You can feel them in the steering wheel while cruising on a highway "have more play in Wheel". If You have alot of play, then more then likley you need them. The other way to check is to jack up the wheel with the Tire - Axle loaded with the LBs of the Van. Under the control arm, and wiggle the tire, Like your gonna try to turn the wheel left or right and feel for Play. Sometime jackin up your cars wheels unloaded will change the position of the Tie Joint and make a False Positive. Good at that angle, but worn in the normal loaded position.

About your camber, Camber adjustment is the two mounting bolts that connect your Strut tower to the axle. Camber by standard should already be adjustable by those two large bolts. If you turn your wheel all the way to one side, you can see the two big bolts. One isnt cut out, just a pivot, and one should be cutout for the adjustment. You May not be able to see the cutout, because the bolts are pretty wide at the base. Some cambers are adjustable at the top of the Strut tower under the Hood, with the Three littler nuts that hold the strut tower on the body. They also, have cutouts for adjustments.

Just because your tire is worn on the edge, really dont mean its camber. The toe in and toe out, "Tie Rods" are the main causes of egde wear and they take the most abuse when hitting potholes.
A four wheel Check and Adjustment is around 100 bucks, and you should have a 4 wheel check, not two wheel..

If you purchase new struts, those adjustment cutouts are already on there and ready to go to the alignment rack.. The only time Ive used a kit is on rear wheels after a wreck or accident.

Caster is not adjustable on just about everything out there stock. You can move the subframe a hair to change caster a hair, but thats about it, unless your running on a oval track.

12Ounce
04-05-2008, 07:53 PM
Caster and camber are not "adjustable" in the Windstar ... and should never require any correction effort. Toe-in is the only expected adjustment in the normal life of the vehicle. The only exception would be if the vehicle was in an accident that caused severe frame bending.

You may have been "baited" with the original $54 estimate ... I can't say, but I do commend you for walking away when the estimate went up.

I would go to a second, and a third, shop for estimates.

You did not mention how many miles are on your car ... if 150 k miles or so, or more, then you may have some suspension wear issues ... but inspection of suspension members for wear can only successfully done by a skilled person.

tartersauce
04-05-2008, 08:12 PM
Caster and camber are not "adjustable" in the Windstar ... and should never require any correction effort. Toe-in is the only expected adjustment in the normal life of the vehicle. The only exception would be if the vehicle was in an accident that caused severe frame bending.

You may have been "baited" with the original $54 estimate ... I can't say, but I do commend you for walking away when the estimate went up.

I would go to a second, and a third, shop for estimates.

You did not mention how many miles are on your car ... if 150 k miles or so, or more, then you may have some suspension wear issues ... but inspection of suspension members for wear can only successfully done by a skilled person.
If they are replacing struts, they will need a Camber adjustment because they have the cutout for the adjustments but ITS not a KIT.. Some have a kit for the top of the strut tower to the body for reinforcment tho..
My 99 has Camber adjustments under the hood also.. Dont know if you have aftermarket struts or Orginal ones.. That you will have to look at your history, or the strut itself..

You can check your camber with a drywall 90 degree angle, or square on a flat LEVEL shop floor etc. One edge on the ground, the other up to the top of the tire. Check both sides, and compair either the bottom of the tire, or the top. If both the top of the tires edge and the bottom of the tires edge touch the angle, with the other side flat on the ground, your wheel is AT 0 degrees .. I think that spec is -5 degrees for front. give or take -+2 ONE thing you must do tho, is over inflate your tires a bit.. Its just a quick check..

tartersauce
04-05-2008, 08:58 PM
If your changing tie rods, you will need a alignment.. Inner or outter..
If you change your struts, You should also get the alignment..
Either way it needs to be checked and adjusted..

Goldlexus
04-05-2008, 09:16 PM
My Windstar has about 93,000 miles on it. Never been in an accident or even hit a curb or major pot hole. The tie rods were replaced at about 70,000 miles (two years ago). It looks like I will be getting estimates at other shops. Les Schwab has always seemed reputatable but now I am kind of wondering. The tires just have the wear on the front inside edge. The back tires look good, no wear.

tartersauce
04-05-2008, 10:30 PM
My Windstar has about 93,000 miles on it. Never been in an accident or even hit a curb or major pot hole. The tie rods were replaced at about 70,000 miles (two years ago). It looks like I will be getting estimates at other shops. Les Schwab has always seemed reputatable but now I am kind of wondering. The tires just have the wear on the front inside edge. The back tires look good, no wear.
Did you do all four tie rods? If you only did the outers maybe your inners are shot.. Im hoping there not feeling the steering wheel rack play, and thinking its tie rods. The best way to check them are with two sets of hands, for the inner ties because you cant see the tie rod socket Theres a big boot around it. You must feel the Rod and watch the shaft leading to the steering wheel at the same time, while someone pushes and pulls on the wheel.

12Ounce
04-06-2008, 06:41 AM
To my old mind, drilling out spot welds and replacing them with pop-rivets on the top of the shock tower (the method in the Ford shop manual for caster/camber correction) goes beyond the word "adjustment". I have friends who think as long as they have a welding maching and gas torch ... everything's "adjustable" ... but that's them.

I think you just need a bit of toe-in. Too bad you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself.

tartersauce
04-06-2008, 07:22 AM
To my old mind, drilling out spot welds and replacing them with pop-rivets on the top of the shock tower (the method in the Ford shop manual for caster/camber correction) goes beyond the word "adjustment". I have friends who think as long as they have a welding maching and gas torch ... everything's "adjustable" ... but that's them.

I think you just need a bit of toe-in. Too bad you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself.
Yea toe adjustments are simple, Tape measure, Lazer pointer or even by eye to the rear wheels. You look at the tires edges to the rear edges, to figure which tire is out, with the steering wheel "Squared and centered"

Goldlexus
04-06-2008, 11:29 AM
To my old mind, drilling out spot welds and replacing them with pop-rivets on the top of the shock tower (the method in the Ford shop manual for caster/camber correction) goes beyond the word "adjustment". I have friends who think as long as they have a welding maching and gas torch ... everything's "adjustable" ... but that's them.

I think you just need a bit of toe-in. Too bad you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself.

I wish I could too :( Cause it sure sounds like over seven hundred dollars is really extreme. I am the female type which doesn't mean I couldn't do it but I lack confidence in doing anything above changing the oil and spark plugs (which I have done when I was poor and single on an old Dodge Dart).
At this point I haven't noticed that my steering wheel is 'off' or that there is any play in it. All that is noticable is the tire wear.

wiswind
04-06-2008, 05:55 PM
Goldlexus, you have done what I do myself...and recommend others do.....go and have a alignment at a good shop.
Of course, as with all things, you need to go to an honest shop.
The reason that I have an alignment done is to also get a good shakedown of the front end.....including all the suspension parts.
I am NOT experienced enough to know what to look for in terms of play in parts.

I have not had, nor have I had recommended to have this camber plate installed on my vehicle....
I am sure that there are situations where it is needed.....but that is for folks more knowlegeable about this than I am

IF you need new struts.....this is fairly expensive.
I had Monroe "quik struts" installed last spring.....because one of my springs was broken (outside of the 10 year ulimited mileage warranty), so, even though they did not find my OE struts to be defective.....at the age/mileage, I did not see the logic in paying labor to install new springs onto the old struts.
The "Quik strut" comes with new springs, upper bearing, upper bearing plate, new isolators.....

Looking on ALLDATADIY, my subscription only lets me look at 1996.....but it should give you a "ball park figure"....
Struts list at $80 each (having a shop do the work.....you will pay around retail for the parts).
Standard repair time for both struts is 2.7 hours......so take that times the hourly labor rate.....add $160....and that is close to what JUST the struts will cost.

www.Rockauto.com has the struts listed for your vehicle.....the Monroe sensa-trac is $76, the Quick-strut is about $190 each.......
Having a shop do it.....the parts will cost some more.
The "camber kit" is $75.79 each, again a shop will mark that up some.
Those would be installed with the new strut assembly.....so you should not pay the total standard repair time rate for the camber plate if having struts done at the same time.
However.....you can see that the cost DOES go up in a hurry.
A second opinion is a good idea.
There may be some labor savings with the quick strut as it is a remove the old strut assembly (springs etc) and install the new assembly......instead of moving the springs, etc over to the new struts.....however, the quick strut is STILL more expensive....although (in my opinion) better.
The quick strut route does not include the camber "kit"....so you would STILL need to add the $150+ to the job for those parts.

Don't be hard on yourself for being the "female type", MOST people are not up on this type of repair.
A good mechanic can pick up on extra play in a suspension part that a lay person would not.
There is no substitue for experience.
I like catching problems before they become big ones....and I also like having a job done RIGHT.
Sometimes I can do that myself.....other times....I take it to someone who I trust to do a better job than I can......experience....and the tools to do the job right.

12Ounce
04-06-2008, 09:08 PM
The Winnie has a sub-frame to which the engine and tranny are mounted ... The sub-frame is rubber-isolated-mounted to the underbody. This does a good job of dampening all the drive train vibrations from the van body and us.

But the sub-frame plays a part in the alignment, .... at least when we drive thru curves, brake and accelerate. How/Why? The inside ends of the lower control arms are mounted to the sub-frame, not the body! If the sub-frame moves very much relative to the body ... well, you get the picture.

We all need to keep those sub-frame isolators in good shape and the mounting bolts torqued properly.

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