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My mechanic replaced the left control arm and crossmember on my 2007 Nissan Versa. After, I went to a Nissan Dealership to get an alignment. I felt like the alignment was better in some ways after but still off in others, and maybe even a little worse than before the part replacement. I even felt the car vibrate one time while driving since the alignment, which never happened before. I went back to the dealership and the service adviser showed me the printout. Some of it was out of spec but he did not want to answer any of my questions and said this was the best they could get it. Looking at the print out, it seems like the values between the front right and the front left are mismatched. Can someone tell me what they think?

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  • It's possible that your car in unalignable per aa1car.com/library/tr496.htm unless you get some suspension work done. Maybe there is a nut which is so rusted that they cannot adjust it without breaking it so they would rather not touch it. You should ask if that is your situation. I know GoodYear warranties their alignments for 6 months or 6,000 miles so I would hope the dealer does similar. You can also get free alignment checks at most shops and this would let you know whether their numbers are correct. – MonkeyZeus Oct 9 at 14:35
  • Did your mechanic use quality new OEM parts? You should ask them for the part numbers and someone here could tell you whether those are good or not. If your mechanic used bad parts then no amount of alignment is going to fix your issue. – MonkeyZeus Oct 9 at 14:38
  • Thanks for the responses. The parts were new quality oem parts. I saw the whole process, with all the bills and the boxes that the parts came in including the parts themselves. I've had this mechanic for many years and hes always been very reliable so I know it's not the parts. About the possibility of a rusted nut, I wasn't informed. The overall experience at the dealership was very poor, with no explanation or assistance with understanding what is accounting for the bad alignment, and no warranties either. Overall pretty disappointing. – NissanVersa Oct 9 at 14:47
  • That sounds terrible. At least it only costed you about $100 to learn that the dealership has terrible service. Good thing you didn't pay them to do the control arm and crossmember work and then give you this kind of attitude. – MonkeyZeus Oct 9 at 14:51
  • It actually cost a total of 73.99. So yeah, not the worst.There was a special if you ordered the alignment through their website. Looking back on it though, that should have been a cue about them needing to lure customers with promotions like this. I know dealerships usually charge at least $100. The only thing left to do now is to find an honest alignment place... – NissanVersa Oct 9 at 15:04
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Your car is set up for NASCAR ovals ;) Positive camber on the left, and negative on the right will cause the tires to flex further into contact on left turns, and away on right turns, so the grip, and the feel of the steering will change with each turn. Tires distort under cornering forces, and so the shape of the contact patch, and the lateral forces on the tire within that patch vary with the vertical forces on the tire as a result of its orientation to the road surface. The diagram below came from here and that site gives a fair explanation of the effect of camber.

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The Versa, like most lower-priced cars, has as factory very limited adjustment available, essentially only the toe-in, and anything else is a result of worn or damaged components, and is 'fixed' by replacing with new. New component won't fix any misalignment resulting from damage to the mounting points to the shell.

Since it's high on one side, and low on the other, the camber issue looks like it may be the result of an impact on the left wheel, pushing both control arm mounts over, probably by distorting the crossmember or its mounting to the frame rails. Since replacing the cross member hasn't improved that, it's likely body damage (which wouldn't be visible, though measurable on a frame alignment rig). This might be correctable by pushing the crossmember back if there's any play between the holes in the crossmember and its mounting bolts, but typically there isn't much.

There are kits available with eccentric bolts that can be used to incline the knuckle relative to the strut, which would fix this, if your struts are worn and need replacing, it would be worth getting these at that time, they're only about $20 for the bolt. enter image description here

For a road-going car, you want the tires to be near zero camber for uniform wear when traveling in a straight line, maybe a tiny bit of negative camber for tire stability, but with fairly narrow tires it won't make much difference. I had a '65 Ford with alignment numbers similar to this which I drove for many years with no ill effects.

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Something that leaps out at me from that is the cross camber for the front is way, way out of tolerances.

Cross camber is essentially the combination of the two - if you have the camber values for each wheel at opposite ends of the range then effectively they are out of alignment with each other.

In your case the front left is slightly out of camber tolerance at the high end and the front right is slightly out on the low end. Neither on it's own would likely cause you any problems, add both together and I expect it feels awful.

Similarly with the caster - both values are actually in tolerances themselves, but combined they put the cross-caster level out of tolerance.

  • Curious that the cross-camber limits aren't symmetrical. I wonder in which direction the preferred value puts it, and if it's different for RHD and LHD versions. – Phil G yesterday
  • @PhilG usually they do change between RHD and LHD - they basically account the camber of the road, in many countries the road is crowned (i.e. rounded in the middle) for drainage purposes. In the OP's case I'd expect the car would pull slightly left, all other things being "normal" it will pull towards the most-positive (or least negative) cambered wheel. – motosubatsu yesterday
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Thanks for replying and explaining what the front part means. I was wondering why the cross camber for the front actually falls more into range before the alignment. I tried asking the service adviser but he was not open to having any sort of conversation and just kept repeating that this was the best it was going to get and that my car needed to have the struts replaced along with a bunch of other things done. He sounded like he didn't know what he was talking about and was just trying to get off the hook for the bad alignment.

I had just replaced the lower left control arm and crossmember, which should have made my driving experience a lot better. Even though the drive is more smooth after replacing those parts I can't really enjoy it. The alignment does feel awful, especially on the highway and on curvy roads. I am constantly compensating with how I am holding the steering wheel.

I know there is no point in going back to the dealership. I went there thinking that they would have all the right equipment to get this right. Now I have to find another place that could hopefully fix this.

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Haha, after reading your comment I feel a lot better about my car's alignment. Maybe I should leave it as it is and use it as practice for my debut in NASCAR racing. I have not really paid attention to how the car feels with left and right turns, but I will try to note the difference. I am not sure what tires flexing into contact vs. away does. Is that so the tires are always pointing toward the center of the track and away from the perimeter?

You are right about the impact to the left side. About 6 years ago, I hit the curb on a ramp coming off the highway with my left tire. It was during the winter with lots of black ice in the area and I lost control of the car. The tire was bent inward and car had to be towed. This was the only collision and I am the original owner. The car is over 171,000 miles now and so there is the wear that comes with that.

I looked into new struts but did not see any for 20 dollars, or do you just mean the kits to adjust the strut. I don't know if I have the skills to do that myself.. I am probably going to drive it as it is for now since I don't know any skilled mechanics who know how to make adjustments at that level and I would rather not risk making it worse than it is. Thanks for replying!

  • Your answer should probably have been a comment. I added some more detail about the camber to the answer. I'd leave it as it is, if it's been like that for 6 years, you've probably gotten used to t he feel by now, and won't notice it. – Phil G yesterday

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