Is an alignment absolutely needed after new tires?

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Sioux Falls
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Bought a nice used car that came with two brand new front tires. Rear ones were garbage, so I bought two more and threw them on the back. The vehicle steers perfectly straight even under hard braking and tracks perfectly at highway speeds or at slower speeds. Is an alignment absolutely necessary at this point or can I just get by with a balance and rotate at the proper intervals? The tires that were put on were 50 something dollar Chinese tires, Ironman brand, as a placeholder until I get better tires next year.
 
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Athens, GA
Well, maybe, maybe not. If the car drives well then maybe not, but, the car is also new to you, so you don't know if it is going to chew through those new tires or not. A car can drive perfectly fine and still have an alignment that will chew up the tires. I would say, have it checked, that way you won't be spending even more money when you get your newer/better tires in a year. Plus, since the car is new to you, putting it up on the rack with a good alignment tech will spot any concerns that you might need to address with the suspension before they become a problem.
 
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Alignments are funny things. I went to a shop and got my LS430 aligned and 2 weeks later went and got it aligned at another place and you would not believe the differences. Sorta makes me wonder....
 
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Originally Posted by Gebo
Alignments are funny things. I went to a shop and got my LS430 aligned and 2 weeks later went and got it aligned at another place and you would not believe the differences. Sorta makes me wonder....
It does make you wonder. Differences between technicians talents, machine brand differences, etc., could definitely get multiple readings on the same vehicle.
 
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Sioux Falls
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Originally Posted by ctechbob
Well, maybe, maybe not. If the car drives well then maybe not, but, the car is also new to you, so you don't know if it is going to chew through those new tires or not. A car can drive perfectly fine and still have an alignment that will chew up the tires. I would say, have it checked, that way you won't be spending even more money when you get your newer/better tires in a year. Plus, since the car is new to you, putting it up on the rack with a good alignment tech will spot any concerns that you might need to address with the suspension before they become a problem.
The car has just over 20,000 miles on it and I got a real good look around under there when I fluid filmed it. You might be right though, just spend the 70 bucks for trained folks to do their thing might be prudent.
 
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Flaherty, KY
If you don't get an alignment, you run the risk of premature tire wear and possibly replacing tires a year down the road instead of several. If you do get an alignment, you run the risk of the alignment already being fine and throwing $70 down the toilet-- or some idiot messing the alignment up. I'm about 50/50 for good alignments at chain stores (I avoid them like the plague, but basically only places near me that do alignments). Half the time the car is great for the whole set of tires, the other half the time the car comes back with the steering wheel crooked, or a pull to one side or the other. I've not had any luck getting a shop to re-do an alignment, they always come back and say it's good-- so instead I take it somewhere else, spend another $70 and have them fix the first shop's mistake. I just chalk it up to the cost of getting an alignment. Since this is a new-to-you vehicle, do a visual check on all your suspension components. Tie rod ends should have boots intact and no free-play (can be checked by rocking steering wheel back and forth and listening for a click/clunk.) Ball joints should have good boots and no leaking. Struts should be dry and leak free. Sway bar end links (not really related to alignment, but nice to check while you're down there) should have good boots, no leaks and no noticeable slop when you wiggle them. Taking a car in for an alignment that has worn or bad suspension components is a super fast way to flush hard earned money down the toilet. Some shops will advise you to replace worn parts, others will not notice and perform the alignment anyway. Maybe try a shop that advertises a free alignment check? Though I suspect this is mostly a scheme to get customers in the door and sell them something.
 
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Florida, Cape Coral
I never get an alignment UNLESS it is a prerequisite for the tire warranty. If the old tires are wearing good across the tread and the car shows no pulling or other bad things then no alignment needed IMO.. ED
 

4WD

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13,163
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Texas
Yep … when it's time for the first rotation … read those front tires closely by comparison with the rear. You might decide it's time for an alignment
 
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Houston, Texas
The tires don't have anything to do with the alignment. the machine aligns the rims, not the tires. It's either aligned or it isn't. If your old tires were wearing funny, then get an alignment.
 
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Sioux Falls
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Originally Posted by 92saturnsl2
If you don't get an alignment, you run the risk of premature tire wear and possibly replacing tires a year down the road instead of several. If you do get an alignment, you run the risk of the alignment already being fine and throwing $70 down the toilet-- or some idiot messing the alignment up. I'm about 50/50 for good alignments at chain stores (I avoid them like the plague, but basically only places near me that do alignments). Half the time the car is great for the whole set of tires, the other half the time the car comes back with the steering wheel crooked, or a pull to one side or the other. I've not had any luck getting a shop to re-do an alignment, they always come back and say it's good-- so instead I take it somewhere else, spend another $70 and have them fix the first shop's mistake. I just chalk it up to the cost of getting an alignment. Since this is a new-to-you vehicle, do a visual check on all your suspension components. Tie rod ends should have boots intact and no free-play (can be checked by rocking steering wheel back and forth and listening for a click/clunk.) Ball joints should have good boots and no leaking. Struts should be dry and leak free. Sway bar end links (not really related to alignment, but nice to check while you're down there) should have good boots, no leaks and no noticeable slop when you wiggle them. Taking a car in for an alignment that has worn or bad suspension components is a super fast way to flush hard earned money down the toilet. Some shops will advise you to replace worn parts, others will not notice and perform the alignment anyway. Maybe try a shop that advertises a free alignment check? Though I suspect this is mostly a scheme to get customers in the door and sell them something.
Whenever I see complimentary anything, there is always a catch, especially at a tire or a car dealership. haha I live in a town of almost 200,000 so I am thinking there would be better alternatives to the standard chain store alignment places, because you are right, they often screw it up or make it worse. That is a great check list for any car owner. Thanks for posting that 92saturn!
 
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191
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USA
I don't align unless the old tires have a funky wear pattern. A lot of cars have no adjustments other than front wheel toe-in. (Of course worn parts can cause alignment problems as well.)
 
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Los Gatos, CA
We bought wifey's 2006 TSX new; when the original Michelins died early, I put on a good set of Bridgestones from Wheel Works (now a Firestone company). I bought a lifetime alignment, which was maybe $20 to $30 more. Almost 200K miles later I smile every time I take that car in. If you are gonna keep that car, treat it right; it is an anvestment. Just my 2 cents.
 

Kestas

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The Motor City
It's been a long time since I've taken a car in for alignment. If I think something is amiss, I'll check toe using home alignment methods. Otherwise cross rotation on a timely basis cures a lot of ills.
 
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900
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Florida
I know too many people who have problems with their alignment AFTER getting their vehicle 'aligned'. A good alignment man is indeed a rare jewel these days. I'm in the "If it ain't broke....." crowd on this one.
 
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943
Location
Athens, GA
Originally Posted by chainblu
I know too many people who have problems with their alignment AFTER getting their vehicle 'aligned'. A good alignment man is indeed a rare jewel these days.
Indeed. I'm lucky to have one of the best alignment guys in the south within an hours drive, and that's exactly where I go every time with every car I need done. Yes, it is $120, but its worth it to have it done right. If you want good tips on where to get a good alignment, check some of the racing forums, especially for things like Spec Miata and Spec, ummm..I forget what its called but they race BMW 3 series in a spec class. Both of those sets are generally people that don't have the at home race shop setups to do their own alignments and are after every edge possible. Usually they will know where the good shops are. They're not going to be $70 alignment for life, but they will most likely be able to get your alignment a lot closer than just slamming it on the rack and adjusting things until they are 'in the green' which is usually still a pretty wide range of adjustments.
 
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