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Old 12-02-2018, 12:21 AM
mahadragon mahadragon is offline
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Centering Driving After Getting an Alignment

I get my alignment done at Firestone (lifetime alignment for 1 low price). They center the steering wheel and everything is perfect for about 1 day. After that, the car reverts back to it's old self and starts pulling to the right.

Came across this thread: https://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=749585

In this thread they talk about how to adjust front tie rod so that the wheels will no longer pull to the right. I don't understand why the folks at Firestone don't bother to do this. Anyways, I had recently rented a professional lift and looked at the tie rods while I was under the car.

I attached a pic of what it looks like under my E90. I took this pic from the thread I mentioned. What you do not see in this pic, is that the tie rod is connected to a boot via a clip that looks like it cannot be adjusted. It looks like one of those clips that is meant to be used once, then discarded.

I actually rotated both tie rods under my car just for the hell of it to see if I could loosen them up and lo and behold, both of them were very easy to turn. Problem I had was, I noticed as I turned the tie rod, the rubber on the boot was starting to get stressed. I was scared. If I ever did rotate the tie rod, it would only be a very very small amount because it looks like it would be a very bad idea to do a whole rotation.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how I can fix my car from pulling to the right? Even after getting professional alignment?
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Last edited by mahadragon; 12-02-2018 at 12:23 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2018, 05:55 AM
relative4 relative4 is offline
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Take it back to the shop to fix their mistake.
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Old 12-02-2018, 06:45 AM
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Doug Huffman Doug Huffman is online now
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Take it for the first time to a competent shop.

There is never time to do it right at first but always money to do it over.

Centering the steering is an explicit step in the BMW alignment procedure. So is weighting the car to spec load.
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Old 12-02-2018, 07:33 AM
Ziggy328xi Ziggy328xi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
Take it for the first time to a competent shop.

There is never time to do it right at first but always money to do it over.

Centering the steering is an explicit step in the BMW alignment procedure. So is weighting the car to spec load.
Dont always have to load the car with weight, only if you dont have a method to measure and imput ride height into the alignment program to compensate and check the measurements vs ride height.

that being said firestone doesnt do that i bet.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:25 AM
08 335Ci 08 335Ci is offline
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Does the car do this on all roads, or just certain ones? Steady speed, accelerating or coasting down?

Check your tire pressures when cold. Check your ride height. If you have directional tires, make sure they're properly mounted. Then get a 4 wheel alignment at a competent shop where they will check your suspension before starting. A dragging rear brake as well as worn rear suspension bushings will also cause a drive to the right/left problem.

When I was turning wrenches at a Mazda dealership, the then new 626 had a 'pull to the right problem'. Turned out it was the OEM Bridgestone tires. Mazda's official fix? Adjust tire pressure on the right front +2 psi. So it could be your tires.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:59 AM
gbalthrop gbalthrop is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahadragon View Post
I get my alignment done at Firestone (lifetime alignment for 1 low price). They center the steering wheel and everything is perfect for about 1 day. After that, the car reverts back to it's old self and starts pulling to the right...In this thread they talk about how to adjust front tie rod so that the wheels will no longer pull to the right.

I attached a pic of what it looks like under my E90. I took this pic from the thread I mentioned. What you do not see in this pic, is that the tie rod is connected to a boot via a clip that looks like it cannot be adjusted. It looks like one of those clips that is meant to be used once, then discarded...Problem I had was, I noticed as I turned the tie rod, the rubber on the boot was starting to get stressed.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how I can fix my car from pulling to the right? Even after getting professional alignment?
I question whether "alignment" is causing "pulling to the right."

When someone does a "Professional Alignment" he gives you a computer printout showing (1) Camber, (2) Caster & (3) Toe. On any car with independent rear suspension, the alignment should include REAR Wheels as well as Front. Since Camber is affected by Ride Height & Load (and even tire pressure) you should know what Firestone is doing about that (see Bentley 320-18). You should always get/ save/ record/ scan that data, and compare it with future/past data. If you have any such data, please provide. If you don't, demand it from Firestone. If they refuse, YOU should refuse to do business with them, as they have simply taken your money and are giving you nothing of value in return.

If you have "pull to the right", WHEN does that pull occur? Is it only during braking, just after braking, only if you are in the right lane (road camber to right -- right side of crown in the road), only when car is first driven, only after it warms up, etc.? Generally, TOE which is adjusted by rotating the tie rod (on either side -- you do NOT have to rotate both for very small adjustments) has NOTHING to do with pull to one side. Either Caster or Camber is more likely to be a factor in pull to one side.

The two tie rods are connected to the rack bar. When you shorten the effective length of one tie rod by "screwing it into" the outer tie rod end attached to the spindle, you DECREASE the distance between the tie rod ends on the two front wheels, increasing Toe-in. When driving down the road, the wheels, if each has proper camber & caster, and assuming level pavement, will assume an "equilibrium" position where they are each pointed straight ahead (0 Toe) or each with same negative or positive toe (same toe-in or toe-out).

Toe basically affects steering characteristics such as Turn-in (how quickly/smoothly the car responds to turning of the steering wheel), Wander, Under-steer, Over-steer, and tire wear. Most steering systems specify a small amount of Toe-in so that with forces at higher speed which tend to cause Toe-out, the Toe will be neutral (0).

If you have more wear on the outer half of your front tires than the inner half, that suggests too much Toe-in. If you have more wear on the inner half of the tread, that suggests Toe-out. If one front tire shows more wear on inside or outside than the other, that suggests a Camber issue on the wheel with more-worn tire. Check the tread wear of your front tires, and let us know what you see. I would suggest reading Bentley, 320-15, Steering & Wheel Alignment, or the following TIS article on adjust front toe & camber (BTW, the rear toe & camber are also important & covered separately in each Manual):
https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/e...rement/4UlbtIZ

BTW2: On my 2007 328xi, the gaiters or rack boots have spring clamps (like small hose clamps) on the small diameter outboard end of the gaiter where it covers the tie rod. You MUST be able to turn the tie rod without twisting or tearing the gaiter/ rack boot, as if that boot allows water to get in, the inner tie rod end and rack seal will soon be damaged. So if you can't break the boot loose from the tie rod by a quick twist of the clamp with pliers, then you need to cut the clamp off (without damaging the rubber boot), get the tie rod broken loose from the boot so it can turn, and then install a proper clamp that can be loosened.

Please let us know about any computer printouts of alignment data, when pull-to-right occurs, and what tread wear shows.

George
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Old 12-02-2018, 02:33 PM
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What I though that Firestone doesnít work on newer bimmer on the alignment, thatís kinda odd! Lol.


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Old 12-02-2018, 11:50 PM
mahadragon mahadragon is offline
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I've read a lot of other people saying that when you do an alignment they do adjust camber, toe and all that and center the steering wheel. However, they don't adjust the tie rods which can cause the car to pull to the right. I used to have a Honda Civic Si which had the exact same problem. I have taken both my Civic Si and my 328i to different places for alignments and it's always the same result no matter what. The car drives fine for a while and then it reverts back.

My tires are brand new Continentals. It's been a few weeks since I checked the pressure. When I did check it, they were all fine. I didn't think it would matter because my car was doing the exact same thing with my old tires with proper pressure. I don't think there's any pre-mature wear which surprised me. The previous owner of my car didn't do jack for it the last 2 years of ownership. When I bought the car with 85k miles on her, the tire wear was remarkably even (Continental Eco-Boosts or something). Although that may be due to the 50/50 weight distribution.
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Old 12-03-2018, 09:29 AM
08 335Ci 08 335Ci is offline
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What you're going to do with this method of "centering the steering wheel" is to adjust the steering rack to steer left instead of straight ahead. It's a trick some shops would use to hide the fact a car had unrepaired (unrepairable) frame damage and I suggest you DO NOT do this.

Steering racks are designed to give linear response (same amount of movement left/right) about a central point, straight ahead. By using this 'cheat' you may be adjusting the steering in such a way, in an emergency situation, steering response may be unpredictable with disastrous results.

BMW's are known to be prone to tramlining . Different models of tires within the same brand will react differently on the same car.

Because you've said "I used to have a Honda Civic Si which had the exact same problem." I have to question your driving habits and the roads you drive on. Have someone else drive the car on different roads with different construction (concrete, tar & chip, asphalt) and get their input. If the car doesn't behave exactly the same on all road surfaces at all speeds it's not the car, but probably the tires.
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Old 12-03-2018, 12:50 PM
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El Goodo El Goodo is offline
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Originally Posted by tesfest View Post
What I though that Firestone doesnít work on newer bimmer on the alignment, thatís kinda odd! Lol.


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Firestone turned me away and told me I'd have to have alignment done at the dealer.
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Old 12-03-2018, 04:01 PM
mazdaverx7 mazdaverx7 is offline
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As stated above, tires and road crown can cause pulling issues. Check the tires for irregular wear and make sure the pressures are set accordingly. did Firestone give you a printout of the the before and after alignment specs? Even though they may be setting toe and centering the steering wheel, it doesn't mean that you don't have camber or caster issues. Remember, the front toe is set based on the rear toe, so if the rear is out of adjustment then the car can dog track or wander even though the front toe is squared up.
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:21 PM
QuebecDIY QuebecDIY is offline
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Car pulling can be caused by:

- Low tire pressure
- brake pad stock (applying brake force) to one wheel
- car alignment faulty

The alignment parameter that can be responsible is not the toe in/toe out (tie rod adjustment) as it affects both wheels in the end (allows to adjust the pinch of the wheels looking down from above the car).
It is more the caster (rarely adjustable) or camber that might be responsible
Camber is kind of the angle of your wheel looking forward from the rear of your car (it affects if your tire surface is flat to the ground or if the tire is rolling on the inner corner of it)
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Old 01-07-2019, 07:56 PM
mahadragon mahadragon is offline
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I haven't forgotten about this topic, I just been really busy. Unfortunately I get reminded of this topic every time I get behind the wheel. Been watching videos. One of my plans is to get new shocks. Apparently one of the things that can cause a car to pull to one side is shocks, a bad control arm, a bent tie rod, and other factors that relate to the suspension in addition to tire pressure and those other things. I'll try to install a set of Koni FSD's and see if that solves the problem.

Last edited by mahadragon; 01-07-2019 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:00 PM
tesfest tesfest is offline
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Good luck and let me know.....how itíll ride with the new suspension.


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Old 01-08-2019, 09:01 AM
QuebecDIY QuebecDIY is offline
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In reply to mahadragon last post...

Things that can cause a car to pull to one side:
- shocks: no, can not make a car to pull
- bad control arm: might be
- bent tie rod: no, can not

Bad shocks
Will make bumps on the surface of the tires that rolls. You can feel them with your hand if you slide your hand around the tire on the rolling surface.
They are responsible to stop the bouncing of the car, they have no responsibility in the stiffness or alignment of the wheel.
Unless they are MacPherson type and are very, very worned out. (never saw that)

Bent tie rod
When your tie rods or toe in/ toe out is wrong... Your steering might not be straight, and/or your tires will wear wrongly because the "pinch" of your tires (looking down from above the car) is wrong.
If you move one tie rod crazy off (front end), you might think it will affect that just one wheel. But in reality, they are linked together through the steering rack and pinion (case). In the end, it will just create your steering wheel to be off while you drive straight. And create wear either on the inside or outside of your wheels (according if you've created an over kill toe in or toe out).

Normally if you just bring the car for alignment it should be relatively cheap and should fix your issue.

UNLESS...
You bang it on the sidewalk hard enough to alter the geometry of your sub frame or your car frame. In these case, it is possible that an alignment would not fix the issue. Because the alignment systems assume that your car frame is as it should be.
If it is your case, you either want to get your frame stretch back (body work shop professionnals) or you might want to align your car with strings.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:19 PM
mahadragon mahadragon is offline
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Update- was doing a very quick check of my tire treads by sticking my fingers in the grooves. Realized the right passenger wheel well is so narrow I can barely fit my hand in there. I have no problem getting my entire hand in the other wheel wells. Did some more searching and it appears a possibility that rear bushings may be shot. Also learned that rear bushings that are shot can definitely cause car to pull to the side in both driving down the road as well as braking. Called around local service centers and they tell me that there are 5 bushings around the rear that can be replaced. In my research, I only see 2. If you watch this video, I only see 2 bushings that I can replace: and since it sounds like the service centers are confused, I think I'll just do the job myself. The control arm bushings on the front have both been replaced very recently. Anyone have any thoughts?

Last edited by mahadragon; 02-14-2019 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 02-16-2019, 08:31 AM
ramblinman ramblinman is offline
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I would take the car back to Firestone and tell them to correct the pulling steering problem. There should be a warranty on the alignment although some shops will just blame the driver for hitting a pothole and say it was aligned when it left the shop, so it's not their problem.

That said, I would never take my BMW to NTB, Firestone, etc. I would find a good indy BMW mechanic with an alignment rack or wait until a dealer had a special on alignment and take it to one of them.

I have had my e92 for almost 12 years and it holds it's alignment better than any car I have owned, unless I have hit a big pothole, and even then it's still pretty close to specs.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:29 PM
mahadragon mahadragon is offline
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I've had my car aligned many times by many different people. I know that is not the problem. I have a Lifetime Alignment with Firestone. If the problem is the rear bushings it won't matter if I do an alignment. The car will continue to pull and there's definitely something amiss there. One tire shouldn't be riding lower than the others.
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