Tag Archives: wheel alignment manchester

Help Us to Help You – Tell Us the Whole Story.

A regular customer brought her Peugeot 206 to Drury Lane Services this week requesting a 4 wheel alignment and Geometry check following a series of steering problems she had been experiencing recently.  During normal driving conditions she explained that the car felt very unstable and that the steering was pulling to the right and to the left and had become very unpredictable.  The customer was particularly concerned because her daughter had recently driven the car and had said she felt afraid as the car was ‘all over the road’.

One of our experienced technicians took the Peugeot 206 for a test drive to ascertain whether a four wheel alignment and geometry check was an appropriate course of action.  The technician confirmed that the vehicle was very difficult to handle and recommended the 4 wheel alignment and geometry check as the first stage in the diagnosis of this problem.

Prior to the 4 wheel alignment and geometry check, the technician briefly checked the suspension and reported no obvious problems.

The Hunter DSP600 produced a very clear printout during the four wheel alignment and geometry check allowing the technician to analyse each aspect in detail before making any relevant adjustments.  In the case of the Peugeot 206, although the 4 wheel alignment and geometry check revealed a slight misalignment in the front toe, it was apparent that the true cause of the steering wheel pulling to the left and right was the caster angles.  The image below clearly demonstrates the lack of caster in the front wheels of the Peugeot 206.

According to manufacturer’s recommendations, the caster angles should be between 3.45 and 2.45 degrees.  The four wheel alignment and geometry check demonstrated that the caster angles were 1.5 degrees – grossly inaccurate.  It was evident that this was the cause of the steering instability and the pulling from left to right.

The technician now proceeded to investigate the cause of the poor caster alignment in the front wheels and hence the poor handling of the car.  With the vehicle elevated on the ramp, the technician checked the springs and steering and took a more in depth look at the suspension and gave a full report to the customer liaison officer who contacted the customer.  In order to gain a better understanding of the cause of the problem, a few specific questions were asked of the customer.  During the discussion the customer informed us that she had in fact recently taken the Peugeot 206 to another garage to have the suspension changed and the pulling to the left and right had worsened since.

Once the technician had received this information, it was very easy to continue the investigation and get to the root of the problem.  Dissection of the newly altered suspension allowed us to identify that incorrect wishbone control arms had been fitted by the garage and although the difference in the geometry of the arms is very subtle the outcome was not.

The customer returned the vehicle to the garage and the correct wishbone arms were fitted.

In order to ensure that the work had been carried out correctly, the customer revisited us here at Drury Lane services for another four wheel alignment and geometry re-check.  After a little expert fine tuning, the vehicle was handling perfectly with no pulling from left to right.

It was clear that we could have dealt with this problem much more efficiently if the customer had given us the whole story to begin with.

Here at Drury Lane Services we understand that you might have taken your vehicle for repair at other garages and test centres and just ask that when you do visit us you give us the whole story and help us to better help you.

How Our 4 wheel Alignment and Geometry Imaging System Can Help to Eliminate Problems, Not Just Identify Them.

A customer visited the 4 wheel alignment geometry bay at the garage this week complaining that his Mercedes Benz ‘C’ class was pulling to the left hand side of the road and the steering wheel alignment was incorrect (not straight).  The customer had been experience problems with the steering wheel alignment since he purchased the car two years ago and had taken the vehicle to numerous garages within the Manchester and Bolton area to have the tracking and four wheel alignment assessed with no success.  Here at Drury Lane Services (The Garage), our expert vehicle technicians began with an initial assessment of the condition of the tyres and set the tyre pressures to the Mercedes manufacturers settings.  In addition, we undertook full suspension and steering checks in order to identify any abnormal wear.  The suspension and vehicle checks revealed nothing unusual but the technicians did notice that the near-side-front (front left-hand side) brake was binding on (sticking).  The technician recognised this as a common cause of steering wheel pulling.

Following this initial investigation into the cause of the poor steering wheel alignment and pulling to the left, one of our experienced technicians conducted a 4 wheel alignment and geometry check on the vehicle using our Hunter DSP600 imaging system.  The Hunter DSP600 imaging system is used to check a range of geometry and alignment angles including front and rear toes, front and rear cambers, caster angles, thrust angle and king pin inclination.  The DSP600 readings did not reveal any significant faults in the alignment but the technician proceeded with the adjustments.

 

To restore the four wheel alignment on the Mercedes Benz to the manufacturer’s settings, the technician freed off the near-side-front (front left-hand side) brake caliper and conducted a road test.  During the road test, the technician noticed an improvement but reported that although the alignment of the steering wheel was now correct, the Mercedes Benz was still pulling to the left hand side of the road.

With a great deal of experience in 4 wheel alignment and geometry testing, the technician was able to identify that the rectification of the steering wheel alignment but not the near side pulling was due to the correction of the rear geometry and the thrust angle.

So far, thanks to the accuracy of the Hunter DSP600, we had eliminated the braking system and the 4 wheel alignment and geometry.  The investigation continued. ..

We proceeded with a more in depth investigation of the suspension and steering checking the front and rear antiroll bars for pre-load and also ensuring that the condition of the shock absorbers and springs were within the manufacturers tolerances.  With all the suspension points freed, we then swapped the wheels and tyres around on the vehicle resulting in better handling of the vehicle but the problem was still not resolved 100%.

Coincidently there was a similar Mercedes Benz in the garage undergoing repair which drove without steering pulling and whose steering wheel was straight.  The alternative Mercedes Benz also had 100% accurate four wheel alignment and geometry. With the customers permission we swapped the wheels of the two vehicles and took the car for a test drive.  During the test, the Mercedes Benz ‘C’ Class drove perfectly without and pulling to the left hand side and with a perfectly straight steering wheel.

Not all vehicles we have in Drury Lane Services (The Garage) for a four wheel alignment are this difficult to solve, but by going through a logical process and having the correct equipment and expertise, we normally get to the root of the problem – and solve it of course!

If we hadn’t checked and verified the 4 wheel alignment using out Hunter DSP600 imaging system in the first place we could have been going around in circles.

 

 

 

Why we need to check the rear wheels for correct alignment when doing four wheel alignment, geometry and tracking checks

Only checking and adjusting the front tracking or toe on your car alone will not solve your handling problems. You need to check your rear wheels too. Why is that, I hear you ask. Surely the steering is done by the front wheels? Well, take this recent scenario that happened to one of our customers.

We had a Ford Focus in our four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry diagnostic bay recently for a four wheel alignment. The vehicle had broken down in Manchester City centre with o/s/r suspension failure causing incorrect four wheel alignment and tracking issues. The vehicle was taken to a local garage in Manchester to have the o/s/r bottom wishbone replaced, which had failed due to corrosion that had reduced the wishbone body thickness causing weakness and eventual failure/collapse. (Apparently, this is a common fault on the rear suspension on a Ford Focus so be aware) The garage, in Manchester, did not have the facilities to fully check the four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry so the customer and vehicle were sent to another Manchester garage to have the checks done. This garage only had the capability to check and adjust the front wheel toe/track, they did not have the equipment or expertise necessary to carry out a full four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry set up. The customer was charged £30 and was happily sent on his way.

On his way home the customer noticed that the steering wheel was out of alignment (not straight) and that the vehicle was pulling to the left. He felt it was unsafe to drive and wasn’t very happy.  He took the car back to the garage and complained. He was told that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle and the handling fault was due to the age and mileage of the car – more commonly known as being fobbed off.

 

 

Still not happy the customer then drove his car to another alignment & tracking specialist, this time in Stockport. The Stockport garage also only checked the front toe/tracking and charged the customer £25. The customer drove away from the garage still without a full four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry check and still with the vehicle pulling to the left and an incorrectly centred steering wheel. He was not impressed.

A friend of the customer told him to visit one of the national four wheel alignment, and tracking centres based in Ashton–under–Lyne. He did this and again the garage only checked the front wheel alignment, they adjusted the front toe and charged the customer £30.00. When the customer asked one of the staff why he couldn’t have a full four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry check, he was that he would have to visit a garage with all the specialist equipment and technical expertise to diagnose the problem and set the wheel alignment, tracking and geometry correctly.

The customer then logged onto his computer and trawled through various motoring forums dealing with wheel alignment issues in the Manchester, Oldham and surrounding areas (in fact the whole of the North West). He noticed that our name kept appearing in the forums as a highly recommended centre for four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry set up and we are only four miles away from Manchester City centre he decided to pay us a visit.

When the customer came to us he was very frustrated and angry and of course very sceptical of any garage being able to fully sort out the issues with the car. To date he had spent £85.00 and many hours of his time at so called specialist centres to find he still had the same problem with the steering of his car.

Although he had read all the great reports about our success in the four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry field, he was still apprehensive about whether we were just another so called ‘specialist’. Here we were, about to charge him another £40 and for what? Well,  I re-assured him explaining that we dealt with customers from all over Manchester who had encountered the same problems with so-called wheel alignment/tracking specialists as him on a daily basis. I told him that if we couldn’t correctly set up the four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry then I would guarantee that there would be no charge. I promised him that we would correct the pulling to the left and steering wheel “not straight” issues.

We put the vehicle onto our Hunter DSP 600 four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry specialist ramp and connected to our specialist computer to measure all angles of all four wheels, including front and rear toe, front and rear cambers, caster angles and KPi.

Within thirty minutes we had fully diagnosed all issues with the vehicle whilst the customer waited in our waiting room. Indeed, the front toe/tracking was correct but the rear alignment and geometry was not. The o/s/r camber and toe were out of Ford manufacturer’s tolerances. This was the side where the suspension had collapsed and been repaired. What the  Manchester, Stockport and Ashton centres had all failed to notice when “repairing” the vehicle or “checking” the four wheel alignment/tracking was the damaged/bent suspension rear trailing arm on the o/s/r.

The customer asked that we repair the suspension, which we did by replacing the damaged suspension trailing arm. We then re-checked the four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry and set it to manufacturer’s specifications, including the front and rear toes, front and rear cambers, thrust angle and caster angle – all at no further cost to the customer. So for £40.00 we had diagnosed the faulty steering – namely the damaged trailing arm, checked the four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry and provided the customer with an initial print out of the settings. We then provided the customer with another print out showing all the new settings.

So, take note. If you have a problem with your four wheel alignment, tracking and geometry or if you are experiencing handling problems, vehicle pull to left or right, tyre scrub or have a problem with a wrongly centred steering wheel you need to get all four wheels checked – not just two. Just having the front wheels tracked alone will not solve your problem!

What’s the difference between 4 wheel alignment and tracking?

Tracking on the front wheels is sometimes called ‘two wheel alignment’. This does not take into account the direction in which the rear wheels are pointing. Therefore, if you have the front wheels adjusted and set straight and if the rear wheels are out of alignment then the car may pull and/or your tyres may still wear abnormally.
Tracking uses gauges where the operator peers through a ‘scope’ or views a light/laser beam on a scale. This system does not allow for run out compensation (taking account for any errors in the wheel rim), so the reading result can only be approximate at best. 
Four Wheel Alignment measures a minimum of 12 angles and compares them to the alignment data specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Wheel rim run-out compensation is taken into account, which gives accurate and repeatable readings. With such accurate readings, Four Wheel Alignment allows toe adjustments of individual wheels which ensure the steering wheel is set straight. Further adjustments of camber, caster and other angles (where necessary) can ensure optimum performance and savings.
On modern cars, tracking alone is is not enough and a full 4 wheel alignment/geometry is reccommended to deliver complete alignment.

4 Wheel Laser Alignment/Tracking and Geometry