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Bad Lieutenant
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6,358 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I had my new tires installed, but decided to use my dealer for the alignment as my indy shop doesn't do dynamic alignments. The dealer last year got the front camber to -1.3 on each side nicely, -1.6 in the rear, .10 total front toe, .20 total rear toe. Last year's spec sheet was very precise.

This time, their sheet shows the same settings, but take a look at these photos of the strut mounts, just me or is there something wrong with the driver's side setup? I have an appointment Tuesday to show the tech but wanted confirmation from the board.

Left photo is passenger side, right photo is the driver's side. Photos taken from the front; excuse the dust, this is pre-detailing the bay.

Thanks anyone who can take a look.
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Looking from the front, does your tire now lean like this / / :)
This is what I'm thinking. I used a clinometer app from my phone and it looks like -.5 degrees. Extrapolated, it woud look like ( / | )

Thanks for taking a look, so I'm not all that crazy.
 

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I used to do alignments years ago for a chain tire shop. I think your OK. You get a little camber (and possibly some caster) adjustment on these cars by moving the strut tower top in and out(for camber). In is negative camber, out is positive. My guess is the tech did a thorough job and what your looking at is the 'after' of a camber adjustment. Honestly, there are a lot of crappy alignment techs that just 'set the toe and let it go'(as we used to say); as toe is the easiest to adjust. It's very likely your front camber was out, and the tech brought it back close to the correct specs. Looks normal. Touch up the scratches with some touch up paint and be happy your alignment guy isn't fudging the numbers with his pry bar (another low life thing sometimes done during alignments - the tech pries the suspension during printing such that the spec printout looks good). Its real hard to guess exactly what was done to the alignment by looking at the strut top. Remember, you are moving the strut to compensate for possible other components being slightly bent or out of whack. Does it pull to one side when you let go of the wheel on a strait road. All other factors being equall a car will pull to the side of more positive camber (or negative caster). Toe can make the steering wheel croked and wear your tires if off, but technically shouldn't cause a pull.
 

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Z ENTHUSIAST
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751 Posts
I was under the impression that moving the top of the strut is what gave you the camber. A bit of toe in will help you turn and keep the car from feeling twitchy in the steering, meaning the car will not wonder so much on straight line driving. I would personally have the car perform the way it was meant to instead of worrying about the tire wear. I bought the car for the way it handles, not the way it gets lots of miles out of the tires. LOL
 

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Everything you said is tottally correct. However, if a car has the provision to move the strut top fore and aft, that's caster. Lots of aftermarket strut mounts provide adjustment by this method. Changing toe can affect "handling" and turn in for sure, but if it's WAY outta spec, you can smoke a set of tires in an afternoon. I never had the alignment done on my old Z4 2.5i and was only getting about 20k only out of a set of tires(I wasn't doing alIgnments by that time). My tires wore way on the edge. My M Roadster is my daily driver, so tire wear is somewhat important to me. The stock Contis may not be top track tires, but yesterday I took my M on a 200 mile highway trip; and boy do those things drive smooth.
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the insight, man. I'm hoping you are correct in the assumption that the camber was beyond -1.3 and they have "adjusted" it by moving the driver's side strut inward. I know there is no caster adjustment on these cars, so only camber can be adjusted and only if the assembly pins are removed, which I did after first picking the car up and had some negative dialed in. This just looks like a lot of movement inward.
 

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From someone that used to do this for there job, it looks OK. In fact, it looks like the tech took the time to do what needed to be done. When I used to do alignments the BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes (mid 1990s) we used to see were so far out of whack you wouldn't believe it. Now the possibility exists the guy was inexperienced and did adjustments that were not required, or he didn't have the heads on the wheels correctly, but my feeling is today's alignment racks are a lot better than the old Hunter Racks I used to use. It used to be, if you didn't compensate the heads correctly for wheel runout, everything would come out wrong. I don't think you have to do this on the newer racks, but not sure. Does the car pull left or right? A total difference of more than half a degree should cause the car to pull to the side of positive camber. Of course there are other factors like caster or a tire pull, but usually, if a dunce did your alignment and messed with camber in the front, the car is all over the road.
 

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S54=Living on the Edge
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Some techs also play with the tie-rod adjustment in conjunction with the strut tops. You may be OK, but with the struts pulled in (at the top) all the way and a slightly lowered car (.5") I am at -1.8/-1.9 (don't remember exact numbers) so it's def worth getting this checked. Looking at my car head on, it looks like / \
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, Pal.

I guess I always assumed, and I'm not an alignment guy, that the tech would start with the camber adjustment and set toe last along with centering the wheel. It is being examined tomorrow and I sent these photos to my SA, who agrees, that something isn't right, my driver's side should not have needed an adjustment according to their spec sheet.
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
This has now been resolved, thanks to Finnegan and Skelekitty on zpost for recommending a real alignment shop. Here is the before:

Before
Front
toe: L: -.01 R: .21
camber: L: -.58 R: -1.3

Rear
toe: L: .31 R: .23
camber: L: -1.7 R: -1.8

After
Front
toe: L: .03 R: .03
camber: L: -1.3 R: -1.3

Rear
toe: L: .18 R: .18
camber: L: -1.8 R: -1.8

Steering wheel is dead center, vibrations are gone.
 

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Known as Finnegan
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24 Posts
Those after specs are more like it! :thumbup:

(Same Finnegan as zpost, couldn't get the same user ID here.)
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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6,358 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Those after specs are more like it! :thumbup:

(Same Finnegan as zpost, couldn't get the same user ID here.)
Thanks, the difference was immediate, but now I'm thinking of having the PowerFlex RTABs installed; I hadn't known they were available for our cars until yesterday.
 

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2006 Z4 M Imola/Black
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This has now been resolved, thanks to Finnegan and Skelekitty on zpost for recommending a real alignment shop. Here is the before:

Before
Front
toe: L: -.01 R: .21
camber: L: -.58 R: -1.3

Rear
toe: L: .31 R: .23
camber: L: -1.7 R: -1.8

After
Front
toe: L: .03 R: .03
camber: L: -1.3 R: -1.3

Rear
toe: L: .18 R: .18
camber: L: -1.8 R: -1.8

Steering wheel is dead center, vibrations are gone.
This is pathetic! Did you complain to the dealership and get your money back? They probably charged an arm and a leg(I bet more than the second shop you went to eh?).
 

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Bad Lieutenant
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6,358 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is pathetic! Did you complain to the dealership and get your money back? They probably charged an arm and a leg(I bet more than the second shop you went to eh?).
Yes, agree, the SA is a friend so I gave them a shot at correcting so they are agreeing to some kind of credit or a refund. Dealer charges $190, performance shop was $150 and now the strut towers are on the money.
 
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