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Front end alignment after new struts - yes or no?

26362 Views 40 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  snowwy66
Just changed the struts and rear shocks @ 61k miles.
Put in Bilsteins.
Stock replacements, no changes to ride height.
The struts showed up about a month after ordering, rears were on 3 month back-order.
Does the suspension need an alignment after doing this work?
Car steers the same, is not pulling.
But I don’t want to mess up the front tires, $200 each…..
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Just had to post my opinion about alignments. First, I totally agree that finding a technician that knows what he or she is doing is critical, close enough is not good enough now a days. I had a vehicle aligned once after a set of new front tires, guess what, one year later I had significant inner wear on one that would not pass inspection. Did not replace any parts or hit any holes in that year period(even though garage said I must have). They realigned, but charged me for a new tire.

Garages, whether dealers or private, push 4 wheel alignment, but why? Most rear ends can not be adjusted, and it seems that on many vehicles the only setting adjustable in the front is toe. When asked why I need a 4 wheel alignment when you can not adjust the rear, they say well that is all we do or no real answer. Then the cost, the $20 and $30 alignments are history, $70 - $90 is the new standard. That is significant money to spend if you are not showing any significant abnormal tire wear. I believe rotating tires every 5 - 6,000 miles is critical to tire wear longevity and allows you to see clearly how they are wearing. Unless you replace a steering part, inner and/or outer tie rods, or had an accident, I would not waste my money on an alignment unless I was showing significant abnormal tire wear.

Many places will do a courtesy "alignment check", that along with your actual tire wear will tell you if you need an alignment. I have a 2002 full size front wheel drive GM vehicle with 105,000 miles, never had an alignment, tires wear perfectly (knock on wood). Never had to replace any tie rods yet, hit many pot holes in 16 years, but the car tracks and the tires wear great. Get 50,000 miles out of Goodyear Integrity tires which are a reasonable cost, 50,000 miles tread wear tires. Also, had a Chrysler van with over 100,000 miles, never had it aligned, no problems with tire wear. Both vehicles were purchased new, so I knew the history. So, I have proof supporting not aligning every year.

One last note, I found on previous vehicles that the type of tire seemed to affect how they wear on the edges, i.e., touring or non touring, I am thinking it has to do with the tread width. It seemed at one time, touring tires had a wider tread, than non-touring tires, so I usually try to stay with a tread width that's been working. Naturally, your driving habits will have a significant impact on tire wear. I am a supporter of not aligning every year, but do support visually checking" 2+ times per year to make sure your o.k.
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