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3-Series (E46, E90) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.

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Old 03-25-2006, 10:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Post Alignment 101

When I was in the dealerships and independent shops, I did a lot of alignments. 2-wheel alignments are becoming a thing of the past, due to come-backs for misalignment purposes. Front wheel drive cars HAVE to have a 4-wheel alignment because you align the front wheels to the rear wheels, and there is usually an adjustment for the rear camber--and sometimes toe as well. Vehicles with solid rear axles, such as trucks, can sometimes get away with a 2-wheel alignment because there really is nothing to align in the rear. Rear wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles with independent suspension usually are set up in that the car is aligned "to itself." In any case, it is always important to not have any loose or bent suspension components before getting an alignment, otherwise, it will NEVER be right. The adjustments are small, and a worn ball joint could make the difference between a pull or no pull, or pre-mature tire wear.

Here's another thing: A Corvette will align in a different way that perhaps a previous year. A 323i may align differently than a 328i. A 1992 Ford Taurus will align completely different than 1995. My point is, you better have an alignment guy that knows what he's doing, since there is a program in today's high-tech alignment machines for all types of vehicles. There are step-by-step procedures to follow, and all parameters must be set up correctly and precisely. Aligning a car is somewhat of an art, it takes patience and the ability to stop and repair any damage or broken parts before proceeding. There are only 2 or 3 guys in Toledo I trust with my 3er, so if you know someone, great. If not, read on.

And another tip: Ask for a printout of your car's final alignment specs. when you pick it up. Most alignment machines don't have "fudge factor," so the shop won't be able to bullshit their way out of a proper alignment on your vehicle. Remember: Most shops are based on flat rates, which means quantity, not quality. Many times a properly done alignment will take longer that what your actually paying them, so a lot of places will cut corners to get you out the door. A printout will eliminate this most of the time. It will have the date, time, make, model, year, and detailed final alignment specs. from your vehicle. It would be really difficult for a shop to manipulate this. It's much easier to just do the alignment correctly. In fact, any reputable shop will be happy to explain how the printout works and what it means. Just be sure to look for the parameters in the "green." If any are in the "red," that means it still is not aligned correctly, and they should explain why. If they can't, refuse to accept the vehicle until it is right, or get the hell out of there 'cause chances are--they don't have any techs that truly know what they are doing.

Just thought I'd put my 2 cents in.

441tech
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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remember that not all "computer adjustments" are adjustable on all vehicles. And also note that BMW's are supposed to be aligned weighted not empty, YES this DOES affect the specs!
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Old 04-07-2006, 05:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good call. Yet another reason why the man behind the machine needs to know what he's doing.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 441tech View Post
When I was in the dealerships and independent shops, I did a lot of alignments. 2-wheel alignments are becoming a thing of the past, due to come-backs for misalignment purposes. Front wheel drive cars HAVE to have a 4-wheel alignment because you align the front wheels to the rear wheels, and there is usually an adjustment for the rear camber--and sometimes toe as well. Vehicles with solid rear axles, such as trucks, can sometimes get away with a 2-wheel alignment because there really is nothing to align in the rear. Rear wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles with independent suspension usually are set up in that the car is aligned "to itself." In any case, it is always important to not have any loose or bent suspension components before getting an alignment, otherwise, it will NEVER be right. The adjustments are small, and a worn ball joint could make the difference between a pull or no pull, or pre-mature tire wear.

Here's another thing: A Corvette will align in a different way that perhaps a previous year. A 323i may align differently than a 328i. A 1992 Ford Taurus will align completely different than 1995. My point is, you better have an alignment guy that knows what he's doing, since there is a program in today's high-tech alignment machines for all types of vehicles. There are step-by-step procedures to follow, and all parameters must be set up correctly and precisely. Aligning a car is somewhat of an art, it takes patience and the ability to stop and repair any damage or broken parts before proceeding. There are only 2 or 3 guys in Toledo I trust with my 3er, so if you know someone, great. If not, read on.

And another tip: Ask for a printout of your car's final alignment specs. when you pick it up. Most alignment machines don't have "fudge factor," so the shop won't be able to bullshit their way out of a proper alignment on your vehicle. Remember: Most shops are based on flat rates, which means quantity, not quality. Many times a properly done alignment will take longer that what your actually paying them, so a lot of places will cut corners to get you out the door. A printout will eliminate this most of the time. It will have the date, time, make, model, year, and detailed final alignment specs. from your vehicle. It would be really difficult for a shop to manipulate this. It's much easier to just do the alignment correctly. In fact, any reputable shop will be happy to explain how the printout works and what it means. Just be sure to look for the parameters in the "green." If any are in the "red," that means it still is not aligned correctly, and they should explain why. If they can't, refuse to accept the vehicle until it is right, or get the hell out of there 'cause chances are--they don't have any techs that truly know what they are doing.

Just thought I'd put my 2 cents in.

441tech

I just had a four wheel alignment on my 1999 528I sedan. This was done after the purchase of four new tires from Town Fair Tire. Two things:
1st what are the recomended spec on a stock 528I for best tire wear ?
2nd on the print out all were green but caster was still red at 5.4 & 5.6 degree. Will these specs hurt tire wear & handleing ? They claimed " the manufacturer does not specify front caster adjustments" found on print out.
The final readings were:
Left Front camber -0.4 R/F -0.1
caster 5.4 R/F 5.6
toe 0.05 R/F 0.05

Left Rear camber -2.1 R/R -2.4
toe 0.14 R/R 0.11
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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3.5 year old thread.

please keep that in mind prior to posting.
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