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What Front End Work Requires an Alignment Afterwards and in what case can you take measure to avoid having to do an alignment?

For example the Haynes manual says you can mark the strut mount and the place where it mounts to avoid having to do an alightment.

I read that there was a way to avoid doing an alignment when replacing tie rod ends by counting the number of exposed threads and making sure the same number of threads are exposed on the new one.

And so on....

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Any time something in the suspension is replaced or something adjustable is undone an a alignment is recommended.

While theoretically there are lots of little tricks to get the alignment close, it will never be perfect without verification with an alignment check. The biggest problem is that the replacement part is never exactly the same as the original especially if using after market parts.

If the threads in the tierod end are not cut exactly the same then it could be a quarter turn off and you'll never know. If the length of the threaded portion of the tierod is 1/8 of an inch longer then counting the threads is pointless.

There are magnetic angle gauges that can be used to realign a strut back, but again it's close but not prefect, same problem as the tierod.

What can be done without an alignment is a separation of the tapered part of a ball joint or a tierod. For example if the need to remove a CV axle arises there is not enough room to pull it out. Separate a ball joint and pull the knuckle out to give enough room to pull out the axle. After reassembly an alignment is not necessary.

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  • what about Ford twin I-beam radius arm bushings, I am about to change them and I figured my new ones would be putting the alignment back to where it belongs. Am I nuts? – Jimmy Fix-it Jan 17 '16 at 22:47
  • @JimmyFix-it That suspension is more of an exception to the rule. The radius arm bushings should not require and alignment. The problem in any car arises if an alignment was preformed with the worn bushings compensating for their ware and now with the new bushings the alignment will be out. – vini_i Jan 17 '16 at 23:17

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