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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 07-29-2010, 01:08 PM
deadspoogi deadspoogi is offline
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average price for a wheel alignment?

whats an average price for a wheel alignment for a 3 series bmw? Thanks
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:03 PM
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Dealerships have been reported at 125 to 250 with most in the 225 neighborhood. Independents have been posted at as little as 80 on up to close to 200, with most around 120. There has been some concern that the indys MAY not be as thorough as the dealerships. It is important to put weight in various places in the car, and to reset Steering Angle in the computer so that stability control is not affected.
My feeling is that a good indy shop will do as good a job as the dealer for less money. You can check reputations on line quite easily these days.
You will need a 'four wheel alignment'. BMWs have relatively good adjustment points and a shim kit or caster/camber kit should not be required.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:30 PM
deadspoogi deadspoogi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
Dealerships have been reported at 125 to 250 with most in the 225 neighborhood. Independents have been posted at as little as 80 on up to close to 200, with most around 120. There has been some concern that the indys MAY not be as thorough as the dealerships. It is important to put weight in various places in the car, and to reset Steering Angle in the computer so that stability control is not affected.
My feeling is that a good indy shop will do as good a job as the dealer for less money. You can check reputations on line quite easily these days.
You will need a 'four wheel alignment'. BMWs have relatively good adjustment points and a shim kit or caster/camber kit should not be required.


Goodness, my local tire shop charges $60 bucks for all kinds of alignments. They use some kind of sensors. They seem to have lots of customers....
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by deadspoogi View Post
Goodness, my local tire shop charges $60 bucks for all kinds of alignments. They use some kind of sensors. They seem to have lots of customers....
Call and ask if they will do a four wheel alignment on your car -including 'thrust angle'- and reset your steering angle sensor. Ask them if they will place weights in the front seat, back seat and trunk area when doing the job (some cars require over 200 lbs of weight).
Thrust angle sets the rear wheels parallel to the centerline of the car. That is part of a proper alignment of your car.
Then see if the price is till $60. I do alignments, I have the latest equipment ($48,000 worth of it), and a tech who gets $26/hr. $60 would only pay for the equipment depreciation, maintenance, insurance, overhead and carrying costs.
Of course they could be doing the old 'toe and go', the biggest money maker in the alignment biz. I can't say...
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:53 PM
deadspoogi deadspoogi is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
Call and ask if they will do a four wheel alignment on your car -including 'thrust angle'- and reset your steering angle sensor. Ask them if they will place weights in the front seat, back seat and trunk area when doing the job (some cars require over 200 lbs of weight).
Thrust angle sets the rear wheels parallel to the centerline of the car. That is part of a proper alignment of your car.
Then see if the price is till $60. I do alignments, I have the latest equipment ($48,000 worth of it), and a tech who gets $26/hr. $60 would only pay for the equipment depreciation, maintenance, insurance, overhead and carrying costs.
Of course they could be doing the old 'toe and go', the biggest money maker in the alignment biz. I can't say...

I called em up they said didnt really knwo what thrust angle meant but i googled it and ive read that it is a standard job when doing a 4 wheel alignment. They said they dont place any weights inside the car.....
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by deadspoogi View Post
I called em up they said didnt really knwo what thrust angle meant but i googled it and ive read that it is a standard job when doing a 4 wheel alignment. They said they dont place any weights inside the car.....
Now you know why they're $60...my dealership generally has the alignment on sale during certain times of the year, and I would try to catch them at that point.
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:06 PM
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My m3 at a BMW dealer does it for $149. A buddy who works at a Subaru garage does it for another M3 for 60-70...ask around. It all depends on if they have the software for the alignment computer and know if they need to weight the car...this Subaru garage does. They are my new friends! LOL

[as point of reference, the BMW dealer close by did not have the M3 settings. Long story]
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:55 PM
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The dealerships are not ripping people off, they have to charge more. First, their labor costs (everything included, training, retirement pension, etc.) are higher than the average indy shop. And take a look at the average BMW dealership, it's a palace compared to most indys. The owner doesn't pay for that luxury, the customer does!
A heck of a lot of people don't mind paying dealership prices. I own an indy and take my car in only for significant warranty or scheduled maintenance issues. I like the free continental breakfast, a NYTimes on the table, a big screen TV w/CNN, and maybe a loaner car too. I wouldn't pay to have my car serviced there if it weren't on their tab. That's just me. Judging from the long lines, and the off-warranty cars in the lot, there are a lot of people who don't have a problem with the charges. They see value where a lot of us only see expense.
There's an old adage in any business: It's not what you make, it's what you keep. Dealers make a lot, but the average indy probably keeps as much (percentage).
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Old 07-30-2010, 05:19 AM
machtnichts machtnichts is offline
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My dealer, not known for bargains, charges ~160. 250 sounds high.
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2010, 04:58 PM
Tom K. Tom K. is offline
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$219 at my dealer.
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  #11  
Old 07-30-2010, 05:40 PM
deadspoogi deadspoogi is offline
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$219 at my dealer.
That price is just outright laughable.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2010, 08:05 PM
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$219 at my dealer.
I assume that includes Vaseline on the parts/consumables portion of the bill.
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Old 07-31-2010, 01:31 AM
sleepyx637 sleepyx637 is offline
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dsx, i've been contemplating between going to the dealer ($228) vs a well-regarded indy alignment shop that probably does not use weights (http://www.yelp.com/biz/jc-auto-house-temple-city) (http://m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=294943). how important is it for them to use the weights? what difference will feel if they dont use weights?

also, my steering wheel is just *slightly* off center from my last alignment, and the dealer claims they use lasers to center your steering wheel, so that it'll be perfectly straight -- is that true?

thanks!

Last edited by sleepyx637; 07-31-2010 at 01:37 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-31-2010, 07:10 AM
Christos Christos is offline
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Originally Posted by deadspoogi View Post
whats an average price for a wheel alignment for a 3 series bmw? Thanks
Shop in Central Jersey is $189.99
http://www.bmwoffreehold.com/service...al_offers.aspx
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  #15  
Old 07-31-2010, 08:50 AM
Tom K. Tom K. is offline
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That price is just outright laughable.
OK, let us know how your tires look a year after your $60 alignment.

Tom
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  #16  
Old 07-31-2010, 01:46 PM
deadspoogi deadspoogi is offline
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OK, let us know how your tires look a year after your $60 alignment.

Tom

I will personally pm you a year from today and attach pics of the tires. Then you reply with your $210 alignment and we can compare. Deal?
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  #17  
Old 07-31-2010, 05:05 PM
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DSXMachina DSXMachina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyx637 View Post
dsx, i've been contemplating between going to the dealer ($228) vs a well-regarded indy alignment shop that probably does not use weights (http://www.yelp.com/biz/jc-auto-house-temple-city) (http://m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=294943). how important is it for them to use the weights? what difference will feel if they dont use weights?

also, my steering wheel is just *slightly* off center from my last alignment, and the dealer claims they use lasers to center your steering wheel, so that it'll be perfectly straight -- is that true?

thanks!
Did anyone else notice there seems to be a spell check function on our posts now? Anything incorrect (or presumed incorrect such as our screen names) is underlined with a red squiggle. Or is it because I am using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer?

When a car is aligned there is no one sitting in it. The purpose of adding weight is to help simulate an average driving condition.
Weight changes your camber and toe, and to a lesser extent caster. Modders have to deal with greatly changed alignment when they drop their cars. This is no different than what happens -to a lesser degree- when you load up your car; you drop it. As the chassis sits down, the front tires tend to point outwards (toe out), and the sides of the tires angle inwards from bottom to top..
Honestly, I doubt you would 'feel' any difference whether your car was aligned with weight or not. However, the factory knows what settings are best for performance and tire life, and BMW's specs include weighting the car.
Your steering wheel is off center? Let me guess, you have to steer slightly to the left to keep your car going straight ahead? That would be considered normal by many shops and is due to you trying to compensate for a crowned road trying to make your car go downhill into the gutter- to the right!
It is my experience that BMW steering does not tend to pull on crowned roads like many other cars, therefore steering can be set to the 'dead straight ahead' position.
'Laser alignment' is just another gimmick (I have a laser aligner) which can help do the job faster and more accurately. A good tech with non-laser equipment can do just as good a job but it will take longer.
One of the bad things about modern equipment is that they have helped make alignments so easy "anyone can do them". Well, that's true to an extent, but it can lead to problems. One of them is not knowing what to do when things don't go according to the book. For instance, what do you do when the adjustment sleeves used to center the steering wheel are seized and the boss has three more alignments waiting to be done before you go home? You leave the sleeves alone and tell the customer his steering wheel is off to compensate for road crown effect... That'll be $69.95 thank-you-very-much.

Last edited by DSXMachina; 07-31-2010 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:38 PM
TheDrivingG TheDrivingG is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
Did anyone else notice there seems to be a spell check function on our posts now? is it because I am using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer?
Yes, it's Firefox, has spell check. Right click on the word and it will give you the correct spellings. Try the dictionary add-on; once installed, you can double click a word and it gives you the meaning of the word. Pretty useful (for me). Good job of switching from IE to Firefox

p.s. Didn't want to go off topic on the thread but since DSX gives good mechanical insight, I'd think I'd return a (tiny) piece of info
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:22 AM
bcalderwood bcalderwood is offline
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When to Align

Great info on alignment. Thanks. Does alignment over time with routine driving go out? In other words, should alignment be done on a regular basis (how often) or just when issues are noted like uneven tire wear, pulling, new tire install, etc.?

Thanks.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:28 AM
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[snip]
p.s. Didn't want to go off topic on the thread but since DSX gives good mechanical insight, I'd think I'd return a (tiny) piece of info
Thanks G!
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcalderwood View Post
Great info on alignment. Thanks. Does alignment over time with routine driving go out? In other words, should alignment be done on a regular basis (how often) or just when issues are noted like uneven tire wear, pulling, new tire install, etc.?

Thanks.
Does alignment over time with routine driving go out?
See my answer to your next question.

In other words, should alignment be done on a regular basis (how often) or just when issues are noted like uneven tire wear, pulling, new tire install, etc.?
There is no quick answer to your question. I'd like to beg off and answer "Do it when you need it" but that doesn't tell you much does it?

Once upon a time cars never got aligned (unless they had mechanical repair). A car which could go 60 was a rarity and components were so heavy (strong) that it took an accident of major proportions to knock a car out of the very loose factory specs. In the Fifties cars got faster, roads got smoother (Eisenhower began the Interstate Highway System), and luxury began to displace utility as a selling point.

Soon, cars which would only get you from A to B were being displaced by cars women could drive- Yes, they actually did advertise them that way! The world's largest automakers, Ford, GMC and Chrysler (remember them?) began making cars which were marketed as both luxurious and powerful.

Then niggling little things began to crop up. Rings and valves wouldn't take the compression and temperatures. Bias belt tires wouldn't take the speeds. Lighter steering and suspension components wouldn't hold up to cornering forces. And worst of all there were all those pesky imports being brought over from Europe which seemed to do a lot of things better, and for a longer time.

One of the things Americans seemed to like about the imports was that they felt more nimble, they seemed to out accelerate, out turn and out stop all but a few native models. They accomplished this by having lower weight to HP ratios, bigger brakes, and more sophisticated steering and suspension components. The way that wheels were hung on the car, especially front wheels which had to both rotate and steer, was changing forever.

The parts which held the wheels in place were more numerous, arranged differently, and were much lighter than on standard production cars. These new style components weren't made to be rugged or last forever (like back when forever was 100,000 miles). They were made to reduce unsprung weight, and vary their geometry as a corner was entered and exited. That meant it would be easier to keep all the wheels on the ground, and reduce under and oversteer while at the same time allowing the car to stay flat and corner at higher speeds.

Unfortunately all this exotic stuff meant that there were more things to wear out; more ball and socket joints, and more rubber bushings. And of course the lightweight components themselves were more likely to bend on impact. All this would result in a condition where the wheels (and the tires on them) would not be pointing in the direction the driver was intending to go. Alignments -a procedure wherein the things which hold the four wheels in position are reset to the way the factory intended- became much more common.

So now to the specific answer to your question. Aligment does change with time/mileage. It's because when all those joints wear a little, it adds up to a lot. Socket type joints wear away by the thousandths, rubber joints by the 1/64ths. Put it all together and things aren't pointing where you want them to go. The mfrs. know things will need to be brought back to spec and they build in various devices which a tech can adjust and lock down in the correct position.

There is a limited amount of adjustment which can be done and by the time limits are reached there is probably something which needs to be replaced anyway. I would recommend that an alignment be done whenever a new set of tires is put on your car. 'Festers will spend a thousand bucks on tires and complain about another $150 for an alignment. That is false economy because in my experience as many tires are ruined by poor alignment as are worn out by mileage! Also, in many states that may be the only time steering and suspension parts are checked by anyone, so it is a good thing for personal safety as well.

If you're like captainaudio and you're dealing with teeth jarring potholes, or live in another area with poor roads, or the random killer pothole, you may want to get your alignment checked more often. At least annually might be right for you.

Regardless of all the above there is an old saying in the business- tires tell a story. If you see wear which is not even across the tread, and not even around the circumferance, the tire is telling you something. Quite possible it's telling you it's time for an alignment.

(Yes, I know I didn't mention the words kingpin, beam axle, multi-link, Macpherson strut, idler arm, upper and lower ball joints, rack and pinion, parallelogram, etc. even once. This wasn't mean to be a technical discussion, just background.)

Last edited by DSXMachina; 08-01-2010 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:32 AM
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blauner blauner is offline
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DSX - I thought I remember in one of your posts a while back talking about alignments, that BMW uses 'pins' so to say that fit inside the small holes in the rims of the tire just outside the lug nuts when they do their alignments? I recently, well about 2 months ago, put a set of KW V1x coilovers on my 335xi and got an alignment done by a very good local indy shop, but something still just doesnt feel just right, and I have been contemplating calling up my BMW shop to do it instead, but its a little over an hours drive. Your post earlier about having to hold the steering wheel slightly to the left to drive straight is dead on to my car right now, and it annoys me.

Also, if you have any advice, since I put the coilovers on my 335xi, I have it slightly lowered, probably about to what a sport package 335i is, and I autox the car. What type of alignment specs would you recommend for it? Just staying with the factory 335xi settings or going to a more aggresive profile since the car is lowered and I enjoy autoxing it way past its limits?
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by blauner View Post
DSX - I thought I remember in one of your posts a while back talking about alignments, that BMW uses 'pins' so to say that fit inside the small holes in the rims of the tire just outside the lug nuts when they do their alignments? I recently, well about 2 months ago, put a set of KW V1x coilovers on my 335xi and got an alignment done by a very good local indy shop, but something still just doesnt feel just right, and I have been contemplating calling up my BMW shop to do it instead, but its a little over an hours drive. Your post earlier about having to hold the steering wheel slightly to the left to drive straight is dead on to my car right now, and it annoys me.

Also, if you have any advice, since I put the coilovers on my 335xi, I have it slightly lowered, probably about to what a sport package 335i is, and I autox the car. What type of alignment specs would you recommend for it? Just staying with the factory 335xi settings or going to a more aggresive profile since the car is lowered and I enjoy autoxing it way past its limits?
I'll let one of the other guys who actually autox their cars give you some recommendations. My feeling is that for an autocross AND road use you will want to go with a stock setting. BMW does give us track settings but they are tweaked by us depending on the track (cw or ccw, turn types and speed, etc.). I track my car several times a year and I leave my settings stock. I feel that for a road car fiddling with tire brands and pressures gets you a lot faster circuit than messing with alignment settings. No doubt once you are competitive at racing then adjusting camber will get you a faster time.
BMW has alignment holes in their wheels so that the alignment heads are mounted more accurately to the mounting hub, rather than by using the wheel edge. Why? If there is a bend in the wheel the alignment will not take that into consideration and set 'straight ahead' inaccurately.
Another advantage to hole mounting is that the chance of nicking the wheel edge with the clamps is eliminated.
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:50 AM
sleepyx637 sleepyx637 is offline
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Originally Posted by DSXMachina View Post
Your steering wheel is off center? Let me guess, you have to steer slightly to the left to keep your car going straight ahead? That would be considered normal by many shops and is due to you trying to compensate for a crowned road trying to make your car go downhill into the gutter- to the right!
It is my experience that BMW steering does not tend to pull on crowned roads like many other cars, therefore steering can be set to the 'dead straight ahead' position.
That is exactly right and that is exactly what I suspected. I seem to remember that with my stock factory alignment, I did not have to compensate as much on crowned roads, and the steering would still be straight on non-crowned roads -- am I just imagining things?

I had my car aligned at a very reputable shop (google West End Alignment), and so I thought it had been done right. But if there is some trick to replicating the factory feel in BMWs, then I guess it's off to the dealer I go. Anything I should say to have the dealer get it right? Any idea why a dealer alignment would remedy this, but not an alignment at a reputable indy shop?

(Thanks DSX, your insight is greatly appreciated)
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by sleepyx637 View Post
That is exactly right and that is exactly what I suspected. I seem to remember that with my stock factory alignment, I did not have to compensate as much on crowned roads, and the steering would still be straight on non-crowned roads -- am I just imagining things?

I had my car aligned at a very reputable shop (google West End Alignment), and so I thought it had been done right. But if there is some trick to replicating the factory feel in BMWs, then I guess it's off to the dealer I go. Anything I should say to have the dealer get it right? Any idea why a dealer alignment would remedy this, but not an alignment at a reputable indy shop?

(Thanks DSX, your insight is greatly appreciated)
I know when done properly, the car is weighted to simulate occupants so the spring are somewhat loaded up when aligned to match actual use. A Goodyear garage was going to align my wheels on my M3 when I swapped rubber, but the computer they specifically told them not to attempt because of the specific BMW needs . They advised me to go to a dealer...who could not do it either! nice!
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:37 AM
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(Thanks DSX, your insight is greatly appreciated)
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