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  #16  
Old 06-09-2003, 08:19 PM
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by sbourg




if the old tires had a tendency to pull or wander due to uneven treadwear, would the alignment have been adjusted to make the car track better?

Steve
In my experience, the alignment is sometimes compensated, based on your comments to the tech.
I.e. if you say it pulls right, he may set it accordingly.
I know an alignment technician who does a lot of police cars. He sets the cars up for driving primarily in the left lane, and says they love it that way.
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  #17  
Old 06-10-2003, 11:05 AM
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Thanks for the response, Manny, but I was not looking to compensate for the tendency to drift right - just to correct it. My experience with previous vehicles is that when the chassis is properly aligned, any effect of crowned roads is very slight, if at all, in directional movement. I guess my question is whether the previous alignment might have compensated for uneven wear, and now needs to be redone to 'de-compensate'.

I had hoped stevebfl might have contributed some helpful comments specific to my problem, but he has apparently headed elsewhere. Perhaps someone else who does alignments will be willing to share?

Steve
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  #18  
Old 06-10-2003, 06:26 PM
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Steve,

I don't know how anyone can answer your question correctly. We weren't there when the alignment was done and we don't know what the tech did. We don't know if he noticed any drift or how me may have compensated for it. I have had my car aligned a good many times and I more experienced in this regard than most. But I don't do it everyday for a living. Lately I know what corrections will be made before I get to the shop. In my experience MXV4 tires are very good and they are frequently recommended by top mechanics, especially those who service Mercedes. They are OEM for E-series. The extend of drifting with road crown depends on tires and alignment. The Kumho's may exacerbate the condition because of different handling characteristics. My rule is 'two fingers'. If I can control the car without much effort with two fingers then I'm happy. Don't know what others think of that rule, but it works for me. If I have to fight it, I look for problems. Lately for me that's been wheels and tires. Camber and caster can be adjusted to lessen the effects of road crown. Some techs will add 0.5 deg caster to the passenger side and drop 0.1 deg camber to the drivers side in states where the roads are heavily crowned.

HTH,
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  #19  
Old 06-10-2003, 07:50 PM
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A proper alignment in my book takes the conditions the car is used, the actual driving characteristics and the prescribed specifications to produce the working answer. The answer is never the same and specifications are probably the least inportant of those ingredients.

I drive the car over a well known (to me) road about 4 miles to evaluate the performance. Then I align it using that condition and previous tire wear performance characteristics to shape my answer. I then drive the car over the same road course to verify my plan.

Any tech that just puts the car on the machine and aligns it and parks it isn't aligning the car in my book. His alignment can prevent tire wear but can not possibly deal with performance.
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  #20  
Old 06-10-2003, 08:03 PM
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Hmmm.... Thanks Steve. Looks like I might do best to find a recommended alignment shop in my area. The shop that aligned to the previous tires might have done a good job, but I had no contact with them.

Anyone have any good recommendations for an alignment shop in the San Fernando Valley (SoCal)?

Steve
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  #21  
Old 06-11-2003, 12:07 AM
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I do my own front alignment on all my cars with an inclinometer and a tape measure, and I set my alignment to "performance" specifications. It takes some time, but I get what I want!

I have my 2.6 set for maximimum negative camber and maximum positive caster available in the adustment range, equal on both sides. This yields about -0.75* camber and 10.5* caster, and the total toe-in is set at 1/16".

201 front camber and caster alignment set with the cam bolts on the lower control arm mounts. The front controls camber and the rear caster, but there is some cross coupling. I started by setting the cam bolts to push both the front and rear pivot axes as far outboard as possible, which maximizes negative camber and postive caster, then pulled back the highest readings to equal the lowest so I got zero cross camber and cross caster. I also did my '84 2.3 the same way back in '85.

On a level road the 2.6 tracks dead straight and will drift slightly to the low side of the road in response to road camber. Tires are 205/55ZR-15 Dunlop Sport 8000s on 6.5" wide 300E wheels. It handles great, but still understeers more than the old 2.3 due to the heavier six-cylinder engine. The 2.3 handling was about as neutral and forgiving as one could ever ask for, and with some sticky 195/60HR-14 tires on the skimpy OEM 14"x5" wheels, it was killer.

Duke
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  #22  
Old 06-11-2003, 12:40 AM
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I did something similar with ours when I first got it - but just trying to get it within spec. Camber was positive on one front wheel, negative on the other, according to my cheap Sears inclinometer. Due to wheel damage, it was apparent a curb had been kissed rather smartly at one point. The cam bolts at the lower arm pivots I had to adjust quite a bit on one side. Rear seemed off spec on one side too, but I did not try top adjust.

After several go-arounds, my readings would change a lot every time I stopped and checked. I decided my 'level surface' drive and instruments just weren't up to the task, and shortly after is when the car went to the alignment shop. Apparently my rough-cut wasn't too bad, because their 'before' stat was nearly in spec.

Steve
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  #23  
Old 06-11-2003, 01:41 AM
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Yeah, a cheap Sears inclinometer is what I use. I need fairly recent prescription reading glasses to read the scale, too. The first time I did my own alignment over twenty years ago, I didn't need reading glasses. It can take the better part of a day to get a car set up taking repeated measurements to verify consistency, but once I have the alignment where I want it stays put.

For those inclined to do this you get caster readings by taking camber readings with the wheels at extreme right and left lock and then subtracting one from the other. On a car with close to zero caster getting the sign right can be tricky, but since Mercs have a lot of positive caster it's easier to keep track.

The slab in my garage is my "surface plate", and it seems flat enough to get consistant and true readings.

Duke
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  #24  
Old 06-11-2003, 08:43 AM
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Just glad you aren't charging anyone for such alignments. One could not do what I have described as alignment with such inaccurate tooling.

You are probably lucky to have accuracy within 1 degree per side. Real alignments need accuracy to at least a tenth of a degree. My machine gives repeatable readings to one hundredth of a degree.
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  #25  
Old 06-11-2003, 11:19 AM
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Stevebfl, is there some sort of guild or other organization I can get a trustworthy recommendation for a good local alignment shop? The only place I have personally used is a local tire warehouse that can fit our 10' high m'home. They don't even do a test drive. Thanks.

Steve
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  #26  
Old 06-11-2003, 11:41 AM
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If your best local independent MB specialist doesn't do alignments ask him who he sends them to.

I would say that having lots of MB experience is real important. Very few cars have both the possibility of changing tire/drive characteristics and a method for efficiently handling it with adjustments. As such many very experienced alignment tech don't even look to how the car drives.
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  #27  
Old 06-11-2003, 11:41 AM
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sbourg:

It's probably a little bit too far to hike, but I just had my E420 aligned at Johnson's Alignment in Torrance. The guy is a Porsche fanatic and works on a lot of high performance race cars. He does his alignments 'by hand'. I think 'by hand' means without lasers. In any case, he does a fantastic job and even has you sit in the car while he makes the final adjustment.

I don't know if this is a gimmick, but the end result is phenomenal. On the highway, it's like a completely different car. The ride went from very good to absolutely flawless. No vibrations whatsoever at any speed, no pull, awesome response. Part of my problem was worn out lower control arm bushings. Have you looked into this? I don't know if the W201 is known for wearing them out, but I guess it's very common on the 210.

At $500 for R/R the bushings, four-wheel alignment and balancing, he doesn't come cheap, but I think it's well worth it.
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  #28  
Old 06-11-2003, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by stevebfl


You are probably lucky to have accuracy within 1 degree per side. Real alignments need accuracy to at least a tenth of a degree. My machine gives repeatable readings to one hundredth of a degree.
A subsequent check of my alignment on a modern alignment machine showed that the actuals were within 0.1 degree of my measurements, which, from a practical standpoint is sufficient accuracy. A machine may measure to .01 degree, but no one is ever going to try to set a car to that level of accuracy.

I got tired of paying alignments shops who don't understand suspension geometry to do it their way instead of my way. Thus I started doing my own over 20 years ago. Even though the equipment is crude, if you have a flat surface such as a garage slab on a fairly modern house, you can get very good results.

Duke
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