Tag Archives: wheel tracking

Drury Lane helps Human Aid Volunteers

 

One of the volunteers observes the vehicle alignment

Paul Wighton wishes them all the best

Alignment and Geometry

This weekend the Oldham unit of Human Aid are heading over to Syria with the help of Drury Lane Services.  The vehicles that will shortly make the 3081 mile journey were brought in to us for 4 wheel alignment and geometry checks to ensure that the vehicles were fuel efficient and handled well for these passionate and committed drivers who will make a big difference to the lives of those in need this Christmas time.  With adjustments to the alignment and geometry, these specialist 4 wheel drive ambulances will handle better over varying terrain and ensure the safest possible journey to help for those injured or unwell in Syria.  The pictures demonstrate our highly trained staff using the Hunter DSP600 alignment geometry imaging system to resolve existing problems with the ambulances including steering wheel not straight, pulling left and right and uneven tyre wear.  The Human Aid Volunteers Juhelmiah, Alom and Roman were delighted with the outcome and we would like to wish them a very successful and safe journey.

 

 

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.

Using 4 Wheel Alignment and Geometry to get to the Root of the Problem

Situated on the border of Chadderton, Failsworth, Oldham and Hollinwood, Drury Lane Services was the perfect garage for the owner of an Audi TT who had recently moved into the area from Stockport.  The customer had taken the Audi TT for an M.O.T test in Failsworth and unfortunately the vehicle failed the test due to two worn rear tyres.  The Failsworth garage directed the customer to an Oldham tyre fitting centre where rear tyres were fitted.
Whilst driving the Audi TT away from the tyre fitting centre, the owner noticed that the steering was making an unusual noise.  Following a series of exchanges between the Failsworth M.O.T testing station and the Oldham tyre fitting centre, the customer concluded that the vehicle may have slipped off the jack causing suspension damage.
Panicking, the customer searched the internet for four wheel alignment and geometry specialists and discovered Drury Lane Services.  Upon hearing the series of events at the Oldham and Failsworth garages, our highly trained technicians proceeded to check the four wheel alignment and geometry angles using our state of the art equipment (Hunter DSP600 4 wheel alignment and geometry imaging system).  Our technician was able to analyse the images
produced by the DSP600 and concluded that the alignment/geometry of the Audi TT was slightly outside of the manufacturers recommendations.  We completed all of the adjustments as necessary and took the vehicle for a road test.
During the road test, the technician reported that the Audi TT was still drifting to the right hand side and the steering wheel was pulling to the right although the steering wheel itself was straight.  It was clear that we needed to investigate the problem further and so our customer liaison officer contacted the customer to confirm that the problem did not exist prior to the M.O.T test and rear tyre change – it did not.
Following a careful examination of the steering, suspension and antiroll bars revealing no obvious problems, it was suggested by our experienced technician that the drifting to the right and the pull of the
steering wheel was due to a problem with the tyres – possibly one of the rear tyres was heavier than the other.  We tried a series of configurations of the tyres and wheels on the Audi TT swapping  them from front to back and
side to side with various outcomes and results.  Analysis of the results allowed us to identify the cause of the problem, the off-side-front (Front right hand) tyre was much heavier causing the Audi TT to drift to the right.
Consultation with the owner clarified the situation: When the car was purchased by the current owner and before the recent tyre change and M.O.T, there was a degree of inconsistency in the tyre circumferences.  The Near-side-rear (back left hand) tyre had a greater circumference/weight than the Off-side-rear (back right hand) and the Off-side-front (front right hand) tyre had a greater circumference/weight than the Near-side-front (front left hand) hence two heavier tyres on different axels diagonally opposite one another effectively cancelling each other out.
No alignment or geometry issues existed on this Audi TT but the cause of the drifting and the pulling to the right of the steering wheel was the remaining Off-side-front tyre with a greater circumference and weight to the others.
We changed the Off-side-front tyre which was in perfect condition and the vehicle drove perfectly in the road test (no drifting to the right or pulling on the steering wheel).  Without checking the four wheel alignment and geometry using the Hunter DSP600 imaging system we may never have resolved this issue for the customer.
In conclusion, the noise the customer had heard was simply a power steering belt tension issue.

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