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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
:alert: Today I had to take my car in a *third* time to get realigned, and I have to go back AGAIN to try to get a refund. I'm writing this because I saw another two in the garage as I left, and I'm sorry for not posting this sooner. Cliff notes are on the bottom of this post.

The first time was over the summer before the pacnw event. It had to stay there over night with some super lube because they couldn't adjust the front caster. I picked it up and they didn't even align it to any of the specs I asked for. I had to leave for pacnw in two hours, and didn't want to argue about it. It turned out that it drove horribly! My poor car couldn't keep up with the others on a scenic run. It was really unstable and didn't feel safe at all. I thought either the lube made my alignment slip more as the day progressed and after each run, bad ball bearings or bushings. It was kind of like a bump steer, where it felt like the tires would suddenly readjust themselves mid turn, or over bumps.

I took it back after the meet because I didn't really feel safe in my car. The alignment didn't slip at all. It was just the horrible specs (even within stock) they gave me. They told me after they realigned it that they really shouldn't have had to do it again because everything was within stock. I said no, I had the right to get it redone for free because it drove bad and they didn't put it to the specs that we asked for.

It drove SO much better with the specs I originally wanted but there was still a slight bump-steer feeling if I hit a bump, or even scarier, in some sweeping turns. Trust me, I go slower than normal cars on turns like that, so it's not because of my driving. I'm too scared to take it at a normal speed. I just attributed it to old/bad bushings (ball bearings were ok).. I have new bushings sitting at home.

The other weekend, I got stuck at my parents because of a flat tire. (I didn't have my spare with me). Tom was coming over any way, and he brought a plug kit. When plugging the tire, we found that a suspension bolt was loose, and probably could have wiggled off in another couple of months. It was the lower bolt right above the rotors. :furious:

Today I brought it back in for the third time, showed them a video of the loose bolt and had them recheck, retighten and realign everything, with a special request for the most stockish negative camber they can give me. At least they did so with no complaints this time. Fortunately, nothing else was loose!

When I got home, I reported the new specs to Tom & he got mad. There's only one thing that's not within spec, and that's my drivers front caster. I didn't think much of it because it was the same numbers as it was when I brought it in. It's at 1.7 degrees atm. They wrote that it wasn't adjustable! I really just had a crash course on alignment stuff last summer, and I didn't remember if there was a non-adj part, or if it was just hard to do or whatever. It never really stuck because I can't do it myself/at home. Tom had to remind me that it was my *caster* that they had a hard time with the first time, 1.7 does not keep my car stable, and they just passed it over this time, and lied to me, because they couldn't do it.. and hopefully it was not because I'm a girl :furious:

I feel really weird going back by myself a FOURTH time, so I'm going to have to drag Tom along with me to get my money back. I have a feeling if I go in by myself, they won't give me a refund, but if a guy comes with me, they will :mad: In all honesty, the guys at Big 'O are pretty nice, but are really shady and incompetent when it comes to alignments.. and they may have even tried to take advantage of me.

---------------
Cliff notes/Lessons:
-Don't take your car to Big 'O in Davis, they don't know how to align it
-Don't drive around without your spare :p
 

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I'm also looking for somewhere reliable to get alignments done. I'm pretty sure Les Schwab in Folsom did the same thing to that same bolt on my car, (lower bolt where you adjust the camber)... In the middle of a turn on the freeway, the bolt came out, allowing my axle to pull apart at the CV joint. I spun into and crushed the crap out of a huge dodge ram, leaving me with little damage (thankfully) besides a dented up front fender and a busted axle.

So... Where is a good alignment shop then? And for that matter... What are good specs to have the car aligned to for different driving purposes (daily, track..)?
 

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Want a tip?

Take care of the alignment in one day. Tell them this ___ is what you want and if they wont be able to do it then they might as well tell you right now so you can go to a shop that can. Ask em before turning a wrench if everything within your request can be adjusted just to make sure.

Stay with the alignment guy in case there are problems. If there are then do what you need to do (pay 1/4 of price, 1/2 price or argue for free work done bc they couldnt get the job done).


If i was the shop owner i would have wrote NO WARRANTY on ur receipt beforehand and when u came back id just be like STFU no refund haha
 

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Personally, I only let alignment shops do toe adjustment - I set the caster/camber myself and tighten down all bolts myself. The alignment shop provides a before and after comparison of the alignment which most definitely includes the stuff they touch. I've tried big-o in elk grove and in folsom, and both did OK in setting toe where I wanted it.

Personally, I max front caster, and max negative camber on both front and rear before tightening camber bolts - and I do use the most agressive stock camber bolts on the front.

Oh...they dont lie just to girls, they plain outright do what ever they can/wish to do and then tell you they did it all in the spirit of "making the customer happy". Like the time I ordered Falken Azenis from Big-O, and when I went to pick them up they had ordered Falken Ziex - they then told me they'd give me a better price if I still took them
:hahahaha: ... its funny now looking back on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
toytech said:
better yet, swap cars with tom for a day and have him do it at work, I am sure Infinity has a much better machine, and good mechanics don't work in tire stores anyway.
The problem there is that they have to take all their cars to Nissan for alignments. They don't have the equipment at Infinity. It's one thing to do it in his shop, but another to take it to the other dealership. I asked him once if there was some way we could just pay for the time, or work something out so that we could do it ourselves, but he hasn't really looked into it yet.

Siccished, chances are, I can't tighten a bolt more than this guy. My forearms are pretty weak from my tendonitis >_< I don't think they can legally write "no warranty" on it. It's a matter of safety. I'm lucky that I had that flat, or else I could have ended up in guysmily's situation, or worse. If you're talking about the 2nd time I went back, I would have made one of the guys drive with me and tell me to my face that my car felt safe. Tom and I stopped twice on the way home from PacNW trying to figure out what was wrong. Driving wasn't fun any more, it was scary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've been to Les Schwab in Davis before, but it was with a different car, with something else that had to be done. As for the one in Elk Grove, that's a whole different story.

In all honesty, I dont want anyone touching my car anymore unless I know them and their reputation. I've had it to here with shops in general. Sore arms or not, it'll only be me or tom from here on out (hopefully we can work something out with nissan/infinity).
 

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Neona said:
In all honesty, I dont want anyone touching my car anymore unless I know them and their reputation.
That's my ideal situation... I just wish I had the time and skills to handle everything on my own. I had my clutch replaced, and the mechanic mentioned that "whoever last worked on this forgot a couple of bolts" on the side of my engine. He said it as if it were like forgetting a screw or two on an interior piece, so I didn't worry about it.

So later on, I have my engine lid open and a buddy goes "Your engine is at a crazy lean, man..."

No wonder my car was so crazy shaky/vibraty after I got it back.
Turns out the missing bolts were the side engine mount bolts...

I guess the mechanic couldn't tell that the engine was falling off when he finished the job? :dontknow:

He has such a good reputation around here too though. My clutch feels great and all, but I was kinda disappointed by the spilled clutch fluid on my carpet (my feet kept slipping), then I found the engine mount.

But I didn't go back and tell him about it. For all I know, he might have fixed the problem for me. Also, my front and rear mount insulators were TOTALLY destroyed, but I ignored it, so it's just as much my fault anyway for ignoring theproblem. I still recommend him for clutch jobs anyway.
 

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i talked to some people at work and im going to do the alignment... thats the last straw, no ones touching either of our cars for ANY work from now on.. any machine work that we need is going to CRW.

when neona got her car she took it into a shop to get a free brake inspection, since it was losing fluid.. we figured hell, its free, they'll save us the diagnostics time. they told us the master cylinder was leaking... i knew that was a load of 'S, and we just wasted time on the inspection. took it home, raised it up and found fluid OBVIOUSLY leaking out of the rear caliper. how someone could misdiagnose fluid steadily leaking from a rear caliper thinking its a master cylinder is beyond me.

the automotive industry is picky. good techs dont work at crappy shops. tire shops are not good shops ;)
 

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In any case, for future reference for anyone with a 91-92, the machine/program that the shops use to align, when they pull it up, the 93+ don't have adjustable caster, while ours do. So if you want them to do it, yell at them and tell them it's there, show them the radial rod if you have to. Always fun, having them tell me that they'd have to drill holes in my car to adjust the caster, when I can just point and show them the rod. xD
 

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The guys at 2Bennett Audi (the Audi performance shop near Redrum Burger) recommended Big O to me for my autocross alignment on my MK1, based on the TRD Stage 3 alignment settings. Apparently, 2Bennett has Big O align all of their cars, including their race cars.

Since I was asking for a non-stock alignment, Big O made me sign a release stating that I personally requested alignment settings that were not recommended by the manufacturer. They seemed to do a good job, except that they initially screwed up the toe settings -- I asked for 1/8 toe-out in front and 1/16 toe-in in rear, but they only do it in degrees. I even gave them the torque values for each suspension bolt (from the Toyota manual), and they were in spec -- I checked them when I got the car home with my torque wrench. Sorry you had such bad luck with Big O.

If you truly want a performance alignment, Schatz & Krum (http://www.schatzandkrum.com/) has been recommended by a bunch of guys in the Davis Motorsports Club. S&K can even do cornerweighting on coilover-equipped cars. I've never used them, though.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
TomsMR2 said:
took it home, raised it up and found fluid OBVIOUSLY leaking out of the rear caliper. how someone could misdiagnose fluid steadily leaking from a rear caliper thinking its a master cylinder is beyond me.
honey, i wasn't convinced, so when I went home, I pumped my brakes and pulled my car out. When I noticed there was somen on the ground, i put a paperbag down there, and pumped again. HUGE puddle. remember? lol
 

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derherzeleid said:
In any case, for future reference for anyone with a 91-92, the machine/program that the shops use to align, when they pull it up, the 93+ don't have adjustable caster, while ours do. So if you want them to do it, yell at them and tell them it's there, show them the radial rod if you have to.
.. not really. they pull the car on the alignment rack, hookup the sensors, roll it back and forth, sweep caster, and the machine shows all the alignment angles, and the stock range of the angles. anyone with half a brain will look at the strut rod and know its adjustable. computers totally not to blame, the moron who aligned it is!
 
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