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I was wondering if a 4-wheel alignment involves taking off all the wheels. I called NTB to check whether their wheel alignment includes tire rotation and they said it didn't. But if they have to take all the wheels off, why would it matter which wheel they put on which rotor, i.e. doesn't make any difference to them? If they can do it without taking the wheels off, then I would understand.

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2 Answers 2

An alignment does not require removing the wheels. The equipment is attached to the wheels while they are in place. I often wondered about the shops that will do a free brake inspection but then charge $20 for tire rotation.

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I'd really love to know how my local dealer comes up with the "brake % remaining" numbers they give me after an oil change. They do not remove the wheels. Yet, the numbers are accurate... It's easy enough to get access to the caliper through the wheel with a tool, but you can't see anything there. Perhaps they have a feeler gauge of some type? –  Brian Knoblauch Aug 23 '13 at 19:14
@BrianKnoblauch It's easy to see with most wheels with just a flashlight, others take a mirror, and a few take a small video scope. –  Move more comments link to top Aug 24 '13 at 16:20

Yes. Performing an alignment involves taking the wheels off.

A laser alignment device will use various points of reference on the front and rear axle/axles or frame (depending on whishbone, front or rear independent, etc.) to line up a zero point.

Once you have a point of reference alignment of the rest of the un-sprung components can be adjusted. Since the surface for the inside of the rim is assumed to be flat the alignment, in principle, translates to the rims/wheels because they are assumed to be mounted to a flat surface (inside of a disk or drum, etc.) as well.

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