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Old 02-22-2010, 06:39 PM   #1
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Alignment Questions

Hi Everyone,
I recently got my car aligned because the steering wheel never lined up straight and I had never had one since getting my Boxster in 2007. I am no expert when it comes to the mechanical side of cars, so I just took the car to a place that was recommended to me.
However, since then I have been having problems like the car pulling to one side on flat, straight roads, and the car leaning a lot more in curves.
Could a bad alignment cause this? I feel like they took the sporty-ness out of my Boxster. Any thoughts?
Thanks!

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:46 PM   #2
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Well the car pulling to one side on straights is likely the result of a street alignment. Many places compensate for the crown in the road, there to aid water runoff, so the car will straight line properly. If the road isn't crowned, the car will vere to one side.

Leaning more in curves isn't likely to be alignment related. Body lean is mostly a factor of springs and sway bars. It's likely your imagination.

The Boxster is very sensitive to alignment and so I personally would get my alignment at a race prep shop. I realize this isn't an option for many living in rural areas, but if you have such a shop in your area, it's a good place to go.

Cheers!
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Old 02-22-2010, 07:08 PM   #3
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I had a feeling the leaning was probably just me. But I am going to take your advice and get my Boxster realigned at a more race oriented shop, it just doesn't feel the same. Plus, by brakes need to be replaced, so I'll just get it all done all at once.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:57 AM   #4
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There are lots of things that could be causing the problems you mention. I am not sure what you mean by leaning in corners. All car lean to some extent as you pull more Gs around a corner. That's not a function of alignment but of CoG, weight and overall spring rate.

Here's what I would do to analyze alignment issues

1) Are the tires wearing evenly? In a Boxster you should see even wear on the front tires with no cupping or feathering. On the rears no cupping or feathering but its ok if the insides have a bit more wear than the outsides.
2) Does the car pull to one side in braking? That's a consistent pull regardless of the road.
3) Does the car pull under acceleration? It might be pulling in the same direction as braking or the other?
4) On a nice flat 6 lane highway, get in the middle lane and when there is no traffic, no wind and the road is straight for a while set the cruise on 60 and let go of the wheel. The car should stay in the lane for a good long while (like 10+ seconds) and the steering wheel should be straight.

If the car passes these tests then no alignment necessary. If you feel the wheel pulling to one side then the other on different, changing road surfaces, this is normal as the car is accurately following a not quite level and even road. Don't worry about that.

Also, I would rather go to a Porsche specialist shop than a race shop, although a Porsche race shop would be best. What you want to find is an alignment guy who is familiar with Porsches or a truly excellent alignment guy. Try going to a PCA meeting and asking around for recommendations. Or tell us where you live and maybe someone here can suggest a nearby alignment shop they have used with good result.

Let me add that its not unusual for the car to feel more "pully" after a proper alignment. Many Boxsters have too much toe-in in both the front and the rear. Toe-in promotes stability at the expense of tire wear and accurate, prompt steering response. Often the factory and dealers set the cars up with lots of toe-in so that they don't get complaints about dartiness. Basically a lot of owners expect the car to handle like a Buick not a sports car. When you remove the extreme toe in in a proper alignment the car will feel more darty, but it will respond more quickly to commands from the helm. Perhaps that's what you are feeling.

Last edited by renzop; 02-23-2010 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:06 AM   #5
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Good descriptions and advice renzop. Proper alignment is like taste in music! Everyone has their own idea of what "you" want, unless you're able to find:
1-someone really qualified and
2-you're able to talk to them and know what you want as well as have the ability to describe what you want.
If you don't have BOTH of the above, go to your dealer, have a long talk with the service advisor/manager and tell them what you don't like about the current alignment.
If you're not tracking the car, I'd stay with the basic factory settings. A car set up for tracking is not safe to drive, if you're in the habit of less than TOTAL concentration. You'll look down to adjust the AC and look up to be in another lane!
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickurt
Good descriptions and advice renzop. Proper alignment is like taste in music! Everyone has their own idea of what "you" want, unless you're able to find:
1-someone really qualified and
2-you're able to talk to them and know what you want as well as have the ability to describe what you want.
If you don't have BOTH of the above, go to your dealer, have a long talk with the service advisor/manager and tell them what you don't like about the current alignment.
If you're not tracking the car, I'd stay with the basic factory settings. A car set up for tracking is not safe to drive, if you're in the habit of less than TOTAL concentration. You'll look down to adjust the AC and look up to be in another lane!

I agree that everyone has their own preference when it comes to the setup and with being able to convey what you want to the shop.

Agree that cars with track setup can be a little darty, but I don't really see that as an issue. Even with a street setup the Boxster is pretty responsive, especially in comparison to the 'avg.' car. Blue has been driving his for some time and I believe he'd adjust after, or even during, the first drive.

Cheers!
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil bastard
I agree that everyone has their own preference when it comes to the setup and with being able to convey what you want to the shop.

Agree that cars with track setup can be a little darty, but I don't really see that as an issue. Even with a street setup the Boxster is pretty responsive, especially in comparison to the 'avg.' car. Blue has been driving his for some time and I believe he'd adjust after, or even during, the first drive.

Cheers!
Agreed. also, up to a point.......I like front toe-out and rear zero toe - leaning toward toe-in - on my track cars, but I'd never have that set up on my street car.
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:16 PM   #8
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Rick try a search here on the forum and read through some of the alignment threads. It helped me out alot and will give you an idea on what to tell the tech doing the alignment and get you familiar with alignment jargen. Also check wikipedia if you aren't familiar with camber, caster, toe ect. I wrote my specs down and brought them with me to the shop.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:06 AM   #9
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I got a nail in the sidewall of one of my rear tires yesterday and was forced to replace both rears today, (which I was planning on doing soon anyway). They checked the alignment for free and it was way off in the rear, so I had them align it. I was wondering if you guys could check the specs and let me know how it looks.

Also they said an arm was bent (I think the right toe) and they could barely get it within spec. He said most likely a previous alignment guy had heated it up and bent it. Should I be worried about this?
Thanks again!
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Old 03-09-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
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Anyone ... Anyone ... Bueller ...
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:28 PM   #11
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Rick, your specs look pretty decent. Typically for a good handling street setup you want 0 toe up front, very slight toe in on the rear and a little negative camber. All the specs there reflect that and are close. I have more negative camber dialed in up front and less toe in at the rear but I use the car a lot for autocrossing. Your car's specs look good for normal street use.
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:36 PM   #12
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Thanks!
And should I be worried about the heated up and bent right toe arm?
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick3000
Thanks!
And should I be worried about the heated up and bent right toe arm?
If it's steel then I think you should be ok, but if its aluminum I would replace it. I'm not sure what material it's made out of though so maybe someone else on here can volunteer that info. The safe bet would be to replace it and that's probably what most people would recommend. Maybe have them put it back up on the lift so you can see for yourself and go from there?
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:12 PM   #14
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They told me whoever did the previous alignment must have bent it. And I have only gotten the car aligned one other time, so I might try and get them to pay to fix it.
Thanks again!
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:19 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rick3000
They told me whoever did the previous alignment must have bent it. And I have only gotten the car aligned one other time, so I might try and get them to pay to fix it.
Thanks again!
They said the previous alignment shop bent it? I don't know how they could've done that unless they consider a crowbar and sledge hammer alignment tools. I figured it was bent from a collision with something.
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:22 PM   #16
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The guy said it looked like the arm had been heated up and bent, which most likely was from a previous alignment. And that is why he could barely get the right toe within spec.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:45 AM   #17
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crabbing

General honest advice required, I skidded of the rouind around xmas, and mounted the kreb, after which my steering wheel, was out when driving but not when parked up, so guess i knocked something out.. i arranged the car to be aligned and seemed to be fine after that, infact better,
However the other day I fitted a hard roof, and noticed that i felt ever bump in the road, and didnt feel right, and then my back end came out lucky i managed to slow down but even just crawling back, its started to crab, i cannot move the car now, any ideas.. to me it sounds like an insurance claim as i did skid of the road. ( ice ) not playing around. boxster 97.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:23 AM   #18
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What is the condition of your back tires and is it wet there? When my back tires get down to some point it goes from the best wet handling car I've driven to the worst.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARModen
What is the condition of your back tires and is it wet there? When my back tires get down to some point it goes from the best wet handling car I've driven to the worst.
It was a little wet today, but i seemed to go over some pot holes in the road and the car bounced, after that, it felt like i was driving on ice.. we turned round and slowly came home at a crawling pace, and I could still feel that the rear wanted to go in a direction diff to the front and the steering wheel was turned slightly to the left all the time. which is how it was before having the wheels aligned.

I do beleive that I have bent/snapped something but as I am on a muddy drive now and being a little unwell I cannot look underneath at the moment, although I dont think I could see anything anyway.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick3000
The guy said it looked like the arm had been heated up and bent, which most likely was from a previous alignment. And that is why he could barely get the right toe within spec.

"The guy" sounds like he's spewing complete BS to me. The only way it sounds plausible if if the car had been damaged in some way (ie bent in an accident). I could possibly see someone trying to take the inexpensive way out and trying to heat and bend the damaged part back to a point where it was useable rather than replacing it. But an alignment shop taking a factory spec part....heating it and bending it out of spec as part of an alignment procedure......highly, highly, highly unlikely.

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