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I've see a few questions talking about alignment and "how bad is bad" but not many mention numbers and the ones that did didn't seem to correspond to my numbers.

I just got new tires and the mechanic said that the numbers show I would need an alignment. I looked at the paper and to me it didn't seem like enough difference to warrant $80 and another hour in the shop so I declined. However I'm going to my dealership this weekend for my regular service and wonder if I should get it taken care of then. Is this low enough difference to ignore or shouldn't I shell out for an alignment:

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  • How many miles on the car? That out of spec condition really isn't very much. I'd like to know how worn your steering ball joints are (hence my question on mileage.) In current state (assuming totally tight ball joints) you would be wearing down front tires more quickly with those measurements. If ball joints are a bit worn, I'd replace them then get an alignment. How many miles do you want to get out of these front tires? – zipzit Nov 30 '16 at 3:11
  • If it were my car, I try to measure the car in my garage. If I could accurately reproduce the readings above using tape measure and string, then I would adjust the steering linkages myself, easy peasy. Work 2 hrs, save $80. but I have a clean, flat garage to work in, you may not have that. You only have to modify toe in. Search on line, look for links like this one. – zipzit Nov 30 '16 at 3:14
  • @zipzit it has 43,000 miles but was bought brand new a little over a year ago so they were put on fast. I unfortunately do not have access to a garage though, only street parking so not much room to work. – DasBeasto Nov 30 '16 at 3:42
  • it's close enough that you could turn each tierod an eighth of a turn and it would likely fall into spec. obviously the amount to turn the tierods depends on the steering setup. – Ben Nov 30 '16 at 23:18
  • If you could measure the 'normal' distance from the tie rod end to the front wheel turning axis, and the thread to thread distance / pitch you could calculate EXACTLY how much to turn the tie rod end to center things up back to spec. You need a tape measure, your phones scientific calculator, a couple of open end wrenches and patience. – zipzit Dec 1 '16 at 7:09
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I think it is worth doing. Even though the number are small they are a significant distance from the target that the shop would be aiming for 0.20° and they are on the "wrong" side (negative rather than positive).

That should be a pretty easy fix – either for you or the shop. Toe in is adjusted by adjusting the tie rod ends which are threaded. It's a simple and deterministic (if fussy) adjustment. Just know, if you decide to do it yourself, that the lock nuts on the tie rods will cause the adjustment to shift a bit as you lock them, so you'll need to undershoot a bit and then double-check. It'd fiddly, especially the first time. Since the rest of the alignment (and the difficult part) is right where it should be you might be able to get your shop to cut you a deal.

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