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Old 12-12-2010, 10:58 AM   #1
sailor86
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Front end alignment?

I noticed the other day that while driving straight ahead, my steering wheel was at about the :58 minute mark. I know that's not much, but when is it time to get a front end alignment? My Galant is front-wheel drive.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:05 AM   #2
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Re: Front end alignment?

Has this been a gradual shift, or did it suddenly happen? A gradual change may represent ordinary wear; a sudden change may indicate damage of some sort and imo is more serious.

Also, does the car pull to one side as you drive in a straight line?

IMO check the tire pressure first, and make sure it is set to the specs shown in the owners manual. There may also be a label somewhere (driver's door, glovebox door etc) that tells you the pressure specs.

If the problem is there, try rotating the tires front-to-back. I have had odd steering characteristcs that turn out to be a tire going out-of-round, and not an alignment problem at all. Rotating the tires may alleviate the problem, and if so, you should have the suspect tires checked.

If you are still concerned, have an alignment done AND have them check-out the front end for worn components, damage etc.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:15 AM   #3
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Re: Front end alignment?

We're talking a very small angle. It possibly has been that way for some time but I never noticed. I wouldn't think it's an appreciable angle. No, the car does not pull. I was just wondering at what angle is it time to really be concerned.
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:42 PM   #4
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Re: Front end alignment?

That can be caused by the toe-in being out of whack or when the car was aligned they did not get the wheel centered, abnormal tire wear would be the first indicator of a toe- in issue.
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:36 PM   #5
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Re: Front end alignment?

Were you driving in town when you noticed the slight angle? That slight of an angle could be due to the crown of the road to aid in shedding water to the gutter. After confirming the tire pressure is correct in all tires, try driving down the highway and see if the slight angle is still present.

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Old 12-13-2010, 05:06 PM   #6
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Re: Front end alignment?

Important question and distintion here(and pleae do not correct my spelling - I've given up on that since turning 40!):

When you are driving down a city street like you normally would, 30-40mph, and just barely touch the wheel, does it "center" itself slightly to the left as you indicated, or does the car pull in that direction?

The two are completely different animals, and are indicative of different problems. If the wheel returns to just left of center, from a turn, then either your steering wheel is on wrong or the front toe has drifted out of spec. Front Toe causes a crooked steering wheel, not pull.

Rear out of toe can cause a pull, as can side-to-side-differences in Caster, or front or rear camber. Pull/drift is when you let go of the wheel and the car veers in a direction other than straight ahead(thrustline). For a different thread, but just thought I'd mention it, but a dragging brake can also pull the car to one side, as well as a wrong-size tire on one side or a shock or strut that is well past retirement(!). All of this assumes you already made the aforementioned tire pressure checks.

A "leaning" steering wheel - to either side, indicates front toe-in/out issues. The alignment business is very complex. In fact, the only difference between aligning the landing gear of a 747 and aligning your four wheels is the size of the vehicle and the tools required. The principles are a constant.
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