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Old 11-12-2002, 01:46 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 178
Is there such a thing as a MANUAL alignment?

I know this is not about a M-B, but it's about a car nonetheless. Today I got four new tires on my 1989 Volvo 245. The guy told me that part of the tire deal is a 2-wheel alignment (front). However, I'm not sure if I even got one. For one, I didn't see it happen. I was outside most of the time to see what was going on. The only time I went inside was to pay, but when I got out, my car was done. I asked about the alignment. They said it was manually done and it was fairly quick too. They said most cars require a 4-wheel alignment. Is that true? I would have to pay extra for that. But since I was getting the free 2-wheel alignment, which was part of the tire deal, I was only getting a manual alignment? Is that BS or not? I thought all alignments were computerized and took some time. What BS is that? I asked the guy who worked on my car and the service guy who wrote my invoice. Both said I got a front alignment. How can I be sure? This was at Discount Tires, BTW.
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Old 11-12-2002, 07:01 AM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 11,877
Kinda sounds like a line to me. Maybe they test drive it down the road to make sure it tracks straight and this is their "manual" alignment? At least it was free.
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Old 11-12-2002, 07:40 AM
Posts: n/a
It certainly does sound suspicious, but it is plausible.

There used to be a lot of equipment that was used for alignment that was simple and quite effective in the hands of someone that knew what they were doing AND cared about what they were doing. There is a very simple turn plate that you drive straight onto. As soon as the front tire hits it, it swivels if there is any toe error. It actually works pretty good in checking/setting TOE ONLY. Since toe error is by far the most common cause of excessive tire wear, that is what they (and myself) are most concerned about.

Hope this helps,
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Old 11-12-2002, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
Larry makes a good point. There are some rather pricey devices that in effect, in seconds, measure toe-in (Side slip): see inspection lane equiptment - Side Slip

I would not consider this to be a front end alignment as they don't read caster or camber. On the car in question I would only do a "front-end " alignment also. It has a solid rear axle that can not be adjusted (I would measure it only if looking for a problem or after an accident).

Four wheel alignment is in most cases used even if only the front can be aligned. The purpose is to establish a thrust angle (the direction the rear wheels are pointed. From this the centering of the steering wheel can be attempted during front end alignment. This is the only reason to install the rear heads.

This method of centering the steering wheel is too inaccurate for my tastes and I have devised my own technique so I often only do front end alignments on cars that have no rear adjustment for less money. It takes me about 15 minutes to align every factor in the adjustable MB front ends. It adds about another ten minutes to do measure/adj the rear. With test drives before and after the actual difference in time is about 25% of total. I charge accordingly.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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