Is something wrong with my alignment?

Sid Coleman

Registered Member
Original poster
Nov 9, 2019
16
Maryland
2007 9-7x 5.3: 160K Long story (sorry). My question is that the truck drives squirrely, which is the best way to describe it. It feels weird to me. Kinda darts around when you move the steering wheel, either side, feels twitchy. Had it aligned at Just Tires after the right UCA was replaced, they said it's dead on. Asked them to inspect the suspension for any worn components, said it's fine. DD is a company work van which feels like a lumbering ox. Family car is a 2016 Jetta which handles nicely. Just had my mechanic check it out for an exhaust leak and pulling to the left when braking with a new caliper. Those amazon LS exhaust clamps work great! He said the pulling was due to rusty pins. It's still intermittent on the pulling.

Is it just the Saab suspension settings make the steering extra sensitive? Makes the Jetta feel like the van in comparision. Tires are all at proper pressure. Should I get the alignment checked again? Recommended Caster/Camber angles? Rotate tires? Or as it's my 'occasional' use vehicle, just get used to it?? In all fairness, haven't driven it in over 2 months. Thanks for my rant, any ideas or suggestions welcome!
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
23,693
Ottawa, ON
I'd take it to another alignment shop. These trucks aren't inherently squirrelly unless the alignment is off. Some just don't know how to do it properly on these trucks or at all. I've had one shop screw it up and it became squirrelly. Another missed a worn control arm bushing and pulled while braking. Another just screwed it up. Once I found a good shop, I stuck with them even though they charge more.
 

TequilaWarrior

Hobbyist
Dec 5, 2011
511
Central Pennsylvania
Have you personally inspected it? There's been a spate of bad/worn control arm bushings of late (mine included). Bad control arm bushings will definitely make it squirrely. Even when I take a vehicle to a trusted shop, I always check things out myself when it's done (remember, "Trust, but verify."). I saw a thread you posted a year ago indicating similar issues that seem to improve with an alignment. If your bushings (lower or upper) are going things will only worsen. If the chassis tech didn't pick up on the worn bushings, he may still be able to adjust everything to spec while it's on the rack.
 
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TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,342
Brighton, CO
I just saw this post, and if I had seen it earlier, would have actually made the same conclusion. My 9-7x 5.3i was doing the same thing, and the lower control arm bracket bushings were TOASTY. Got new brackets from Autozone (that was a fiasco in and of itself) with bushings, and had it realigned, and all is good again.
 

Sid Coleman

Registered Member
Original poster
Nov 9, 2019
16
Maryland
I just saw this post, and if I had seen it earlier, would have actually made the same conclusion. My 9-7x 5.3i was doing the same thing, and the lower control arm bracket bushings were TOASTY. Got new brackets from Autozone (that was a fiasco in and of itself) with bushings, and had it realigned, and all is good again.
Thanks! Are these the brackets you are referring to?
 

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TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,342
Brighton, CO
Thats them..
 
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movietvet

Registered Member
Dec 21, 2022
171
Oregon
Losing my trust in shops, including one that is almost family. Finally had the chance to take it to yet another (4th) shop. Said both lower control arm bushings were shot. Not shot. GONE! How the other shops/mechanics missed it, I don't know. Thanks for the feedback.
After being in shops for 35+ years, I am amazed at times when I have seen and also heard how a vehicle's front suspension and steering and the rear suspension was "inspected". There is literally tons of shops out there that have no idea how to inspect them. They can't seem to grasp the "loaded" and "unloaded" aspect of the inspection procedure and a really good lit up sight inspection of ALL components. The amount of shops that just do a "set the toe and let it go" alignment and then don't even provide the before and after printout of all settings, amazes me. I have done alignments and wish I had an alignment rack at my home and feel I could stay busy 7 days a week just doing them and inspecting them, the right way. I know I am at the wrong alignment bay when I mention a "caster lead" and all I see is the "deer in the headlights" look.
 
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Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
23,693
Ottawa, ON
Yep, been there. I don't know how many shops I've been to that screwed up alignments, from having blatantly loose components I didn't know about to outright crooked steering wheels and pulling. Once I found a good shop, I stuck with it and ask for the same guy to do it.

It's hard to find good shops and it's getting worse. Heck, even a local tire shop can't even do tires right.

Now the question would be, is a dealer any better for alignments?
 
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movietvet

Registered Member
Dec 21, 2022
171
Oregon
Yep, been there. I don't know how many shops I've been to that screwed up alignments, from having blatantly loose components I didn't know about to outright crooked steering wheels and pulling. Once I found a good shop, I stuck with it and ask for the same guy to do it.

It's hard to find good shops and it's getting worse. Heck, even a local tire shop can't even do tires right.

Now the question would be, is a dealer any better for alignments?
IMO, a dealer would have a great, very rare, alignment tech if he/she has not been ruined by the dealer mentality of "finding the shortcut" to do things. It seems that tire shops have some of the worst alignment techs there are. Those shops are where the phrase "set the toe and let it go" came from. Because I don't have a lift at my house and at my 70 years of age, I don't want to spend a lot of time on the ground with a vehicle, I have trusted ASE Master Tech friends, 2 that own their own shop, that I do business with and they found a local shop that they drive and drop off a customer's vehicle for alignment to have it done right. It is a 20 mile round trip but worth it.
 
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MR_LV19E

Newbie
Apr 30, 2018
1
MI
Just want to add this in seeing as it is a recent thread.
After replacing all my front end parts I experienced knocking noises in the front with braking after my alignment and so returned to the alignment shop for a recheck. They retightened everything and it was better but still there. A couple months later I took it into a new place to have the steering rack and the catalytic converter crossover pipe replaced and found a competent mechanic that I can trust. Had to have it realigned again and shortly after things got really wacky. My wife came home frazzled after a one mile trip and the left front wheel was so far out of wack it looked like it was broken. I turned the steering wheel all the way one direction then the other and heard a loud bang and it was straight again. Took it back to alignment shop and he finally put a torque wrench on it and said he had trouble getting it tight.
I was tired of messing with it so I ordered 6 new bolt’s for the lower control arms and when they came in I took them to my new guy for install and torque. Had him save me the old bolts and I could see the built in washers were completely flat. The new ones I got from the dealer the washer’s were cupped so when you tighten them down they flatten and lock in place. I haven’t had any problems since so I would advise anyone doing this job to invest in new bolts to prevent any future movement of the lower control arms. They are pricey at $10.40 a bolt but worth every penny considering the headaches I endured.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
23,693
Ottawa, ON
Also ensure they are properly torqued. It's been a while but I do remember they need a ton of torque.
 
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movietvet

Registered Member
Dec 21, 2022
171
Oregon
Too many times the control arm bushing bolts and other suspension bolts are tensioned/torqued while still in the air. The vehicle should be lowered to the ground and all tightened/torqued while completely on the ground.
 
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Sid Coleman

Registered Member
Original poster
Nov 9, 2019
16
Maryland
Picked it up Friday and it's like a whole new truck! Had lower A arms, brackets, and struts replaced. Very tight feel to it now, not twitchy anymore! Thanks all again for your suggestions and encouragement!
 

movietvet

Registered Member
Dec 21, 2022
171
Oregon
Picked it up Friday and it's like a whole new truck! Had lower A arms, brackets, and struts replaced. Very tight feel to it now, not twitchy anymore! Thanks all again for your suggestions and encouragement!
Tell me you got a print out of the before and after readings......If so, please post them here or a pic, please.
 

movietvet

Registered Member
Dec 21, 2022
171
Oregon
Looks good, except I wish it had a bit more right caster lead to allow for road crown but if it steers and handles fine for you, that is what counts. It will not cause tire wear anyway.
 

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