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Aligning the Pathfinder

 
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DanJetta



Joined: 03 Oct 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:40 am    Post subject: Aligning the Pathfinder Reply with quote

I got new tires and an alignment on my Pathfinder a month ago from Firestone. Today is the fourth time I've taken it back because they can't seem to align it with the steering wheel centered. It tracks straight and true but that cocked steering wheel drives me insane!

At this point I keep taking it back to the same place on principle. They're not going to refund my money so I'm going to make them keep doing it until it's right.

For anyone who knows about alignments: Is there something I can tell the shop they're not doing properly?

It's not just the Pathfinder, it's with every car I've ever owned. The only place that can do a proper alignment is the dealership -- but they're always so inconvenient.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like they need to loosen one tie rod and tighten the other.
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Terry in Winnipeg

'05 Pathfinder SE Premium 4x4 - 315000kms (195000mi) - weekend warrior, Cortex Superchips on 87 Octane Tune, K&N filtercharger, Airlift 1000, Prodigy Brake controller, 7 pin trailer hookup, Prostart Remote Starter, Bilstein 4600 rear shocks, Cooper Discoverer ATw P265/70/16
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akley88



Joined: 03 Mar 2013
Posts: 449
Location: United States

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

see if you can find a place that uses a high quality laser alignment system. there are a few places around me that use them and i can tell a difference between a good system and a bad one. this place near me does awesome work, here is the system that they use.
http://rttuning.com/services/alignment/
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DanJetta



Joined: 03 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The guy took me back and showed me the machine and it looks exactly like what's in that link. My Pathfinder was up in the air with those hexagonal things on each wheel. As the guy turned the steering wheel, lights on a receiver in front of the car would flash. It was cool to see.

I'm wondering if the missing component is the guy with "10 years of experience." Or any experience, for that matter.
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smj999smj
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do alignments all the time and don't have any problems. Modern alignment machines basically do all the work. We use an 8-year old Hunter alignment machine with Win-toe and Win-align. One of the things I learned to do is before I start, I sit in the car and get the steering wheel straight. Then I take a length of masking tape and run it across the top of the steering wheel horn pad (or air bag) over to the top of the steering column cover. I then run a razor across the tape at the gap between the steering wheel and column. When it comes to the final adjustments where the machine instructs to center the steering wheel, the tape makes it easier to do this, as all I have to do is align the two lengths of tape. Without doing this, you are sorta eyeballing it while looking into the car and sometimes the steering wheel will be a bit off of center. The machine adjusts the toe to where you say the wheel is center, so this is often where a lot of the centralization errors occur. Also, there are a lot of mechanics that will do a "toe and go" alignment, never taking the time to adjust the caster or camber when necessary, although they are being paid to do so. This is why it is always important to get an alignment printout from the machine for your vehicle. If they can't give you one for whatever reasons, be suspicious.
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DanJetta



Joined: 03 Oct 2012
Posts: 478

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

smj999smj wrote:
I do alignments all the time and don't have any problems. Modern alignment machines basically do all the work. We use an 8-year old Hunter alignment machine with Win-toe and Win-align. One of the things I learned to do is before I start, I sit in the car and get the steering wheel straight. Then I take a length of masking tape and run it across the top of the steering wheel horn pad (or air bag) over to the top of the steering column cover. I then run a razor across the tape at the gap between the steering wheel and column. When it comes to the final adjustments where the machine instructs to center the steering wheel, the tape makes it easier to do this, as all I have to do is align the two lengths of tape. Without doing this, you are sorta eyeballing it while looking into the car and sometimes the steering wheel will be a bit off of center. The machine adjusts the toe to where you say the wheel is center, so this is often where a lot of the centralization errors occur. Also, there are a lot of mechanics that will do a "toe and go" alignment, never taking the time to adjust the caster or camber when necessary, although they are being paid to do so. This is why it is always important to get an alignment printout from the machine for your vehicle. If they can't give you one for whatever reasons, be suspicious.


This is great info, thanks!

Are you supposed to lock the steering wheel in place somehow to keep it from moving while you're adjusting underneath?
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patomwazi



Joined: 30 May 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my dad had an old Peugeot 504...no air bags....after alignment they would unbolt the steering wheel and bolt it back centered... Laughing
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NmexMAX



Joined: 11 Oct 2010
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Location: Northern New Mexico

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

patomwazi wrote:
my dad had an old Peugeot 504...no air bags....after alignment they would unbolt the steering wheel and bolt it back centered... Laughing


That be semi fun with the airbag.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah you can't do that anymore.
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Terry in Winnipeg

'05 Pathfinder SE Premium 4x4 - 315000kms (195000mi) - weekend warrior, Cortex Superchips on 87 Octane Tune, K&N filtercharger, Airlift 1000, Prodigy Brake controller, 7 pin trailer hookup, Prostart Remote Starter, Bilstein 4600 rear shocks, Cooper Discoverer ATw P265/70/16
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DanJetta



Joined: 03 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

patomwazi wrote:
my dad had an old Peugeot 504...no air bags....after alignment they would unbolt the steering wheel and bolt it back centered... Laughing


This is awesome!

Picked up the Pathfinder and the wheel still isn't in the middle. Going back for attempt #5. I'm going to mark the wheel center with masking tape for them so they don't have to eyeball it. Not sure if that's going to be helpful to them or not.
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akley88



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

they could unbolt the steering shaft at the rack and pinion and move it a tooth or two to get the steering wheel centered.
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patomwazi



Joined: 30 May 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

akley88 wrote:
they could unbolt the steering shaft at the rack and pinion and move it a tooth or two to get the steering wheel centered.


PROBLEM SOLVED!!!!
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DanJetta



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

akley88 wrote:
they could unbolt the steering shaft at the rack and pinion and move it a tooth or two to get the steering wheel centered.


Ha! I'd also expect to get back a box of left-over bits. These guys aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.
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akley88



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DanJetta wrote:
akley88 wrote:
they could unbolt the steering shaft at the rack and pinion and move it a tooth or two to get the steering wheel centered.


Ha! I'd also expect to get back a box of left-over bits. These guys aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.


if thats the case dont let them do that cause they could make it way off.
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smj999smj
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the unbolt the steering wheel and move it a couple of notches is an option any more now that the Pathy's have VDC and use steering position sensors. As far as the locking the steering wheel into place during alignments, there is a spring loaded tool that is placed between the driver's seat and the steering wheel to help hold it in place. A Hunter alignment machine with Win-toe and Win-align will also compensate for unintentional movement of the steering during the toe adjustment process.
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