Should I realign after DIY suspension work?


Old 03-08-17, 06:47 PM
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Should I realign after DIY suspension work?

Both CV boots were torn on my 2001 Subaru Outback Wagon, as well as one of the steering rack boots and I decided to replace them myself. Now that that's done, I don't want to spend to have the alignment checked if I don't need. My problem is this was my first effort with either of those jobs, and it isn't much of a savings if I let a misalignment bring an early death to a set of nearly new tires.

I don't have any concerns over the camber because that was just a matter of the one (eccentric) bolt in the wheel assembly mount. But the tie rods weren't so straightforward (I replaced the untorn boot as well on general principles). I marked the inner and outer tie rod and the lock nut, and I measured how much thread was exposed, but when I put it back together, I couldn't get the measurement to repeat whenever the marks were realigned. The best I could do on either side was to get within about a hundredth of an inch.

Is 0.01" close enough for gummint work, or would you recommend I have it aligned, regardless how 'normally' it seems to drive?
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Old 03-08-17, 08:53 PM
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Yes, you go do alignment. And you DEFINITELY have camber set right.
Old 03-08-17, 08:58 PM
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i would at least check around, some places check alignments for free.
Old 03-08-17, 08:59 PM
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Some shops will charge you less if you ask them just to "check" the alignment and they find no adjustment is needed. But if you ask them to align it, many will charge full price regardless of how close it was to start with....
Old 03-09-17, 04:10 AM
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Yes You need alignment, I was a alignment mechanic for many years and every time you change a part that has a adjustment on it you will not be able to get it right no matter how well you marked them. CV boots if did not have a cam bolt you could of got away with, and been close when you marked it but the rack boots there is no way you are on. May be close but I can bet your steering wheel is off center = needs alignment.
Old 03-09-17, 09:24 AM
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Being off on toe in by 1/32 inch equals about 3 1/2 feet of wheel scrub per mile travelled. So even a small amount off will cause tire wear. Increased toe in can reduce oversteer, toe out will reduce understeer, but you have to be pretty far off to alter the handling traits significantly. The spec for total toe is within a range, -.25 degrees to +.25 degrees, or zero as the mid point for your car (I think, your manual should have this data). So to answer your question, 0.01 inch off should be fine, in that it would be within range (inch converts to degrees with a formula that includes the tire diameter).

That said, if your steering wheel is straight, and the car tracks fine, it would not be a danger to be out of alignment, and if your tires are old and will be replaced soon anyways, a bit of extra wear on the tires may be inconsequential.

Just to have some fun, why not check the toe yourself, it is easy.

The pro's will not approve, but hot rodders have been doing this for ages, and it looks like you are pretty self sufficient. In any event, it should be precise enough to find if you are really off.
Old 03-09-17, 11:08 AM
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When I first got my 51 F-1 I found out that the alignment shops could only set the toe but still charged the same $12 as for any vehicle they set the caster/camber on also .... so I learned out to set the toe myself with a couple of straightedges and a tape measure. I rarely ever take an older vehicle to the alignment shop as IMO it's no big deal to set the toe myself. If it needs more than the toe adjusted - then I'll pay to have it done.
Old 03-09-17, 02:01 PM
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I just got it put back together and test-drove it. Nothing fell off, so I'm happy with that part. And the car drives straight but the steering wheel is cocked off about 10 to port, so that settles it. I have a fetish for a dead-straight steering wheel.

Thanks to all for your input.
Old 03-12-17, 12:08 PM
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You need a 4-wheel alignment, not just a front end alignment like you would get with the older rear wheel drive vehicles.
Old 03-12-17, 02:57 PM
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10 degrees steering wheel alignment is off is a lot, so yes you should get the front alignment.

Fyi, there is no camber adjustment on the rear. The rear toe is adjusted by the lateral link bolt on the cross member, so four wheel alignment on this car makes sense, but it is just the toe, too bad the alignment shops charge as if everything is adjustable on all cars when only some cars have some alignment aspects actually adjustable.

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