Q: A mechanic says I need tie rods, gave weird estimate I think

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I went to get an alignment, he said he can't do it because I need tie rods. He took me into the back where my car was lifted. He wiggled the tire back and forth and said that should not happen and my tires are going to fall off soon. He gave me this estimate http://imgur.com/a/fbkqR It looks weird to be because it says Qty 1.8 and Qty 1.2, is that normal? Do I need all those tie rods? Thank you.
My car has an automatic transmission.

To perform an alignment, there can’t be any "excess" wear in the suspension simply because the tolerances in an alignment are very tiny. If there is wear, as you try to adjust and set the alignment, the suspension simply moves on you making it a useless exercise. The tests to determine whether there is too much wear vary depending on the suspension part that is being scrutinized. If you know what you are looking for though, you can definitely look over the shoulder of the mechanic and determine if he is telling you the truth about wear in the tie rod ends. I could try to describe what you need to look for but that is going to be a bit cumbersome and we may not need to reach that point anyway for the following reason.

I looked at the copy of the estimate that you posted. The estimate is written in a form of hieroglyphics that we have not seen since pre-Egyptian times. That means, in looking at that estimate, I have no idea if the shop is proposing to replace the inner joints, the outer joints, 2 joints or all 4. Although the fractional quantities you are referring to may simply be units of labor, measured in hours, inasmuch as nothing is labeled, I cannot determine that either. I would advise you thusly: if the shop cares so little about transparency and clarity that they cannot even give you an intelligible estimate in English, forget about it. Go somewhere else because what they gave you is absurd and useless.

To conclude: You were told truthfully that the suspension MUST be tight. You were NOT provided an intelligent or usable explanation (that constitutes proof) of the alleged failure of your tie rod ends. In other words, it doesn’t sound like the Mechanic explained it in enough detail such that you could conclude, "yeah, I clearly see and understand the excess movement, the part is worn out." You are correct in your supposition that if you do not truly understand whether the part is worn out or not, you could get taken advantage of by the shop so I encourage you, as you look at your options, to do get an explanation of the wear, if the wear exists, that makes sense to YOU. Any mechanic who does not have the common courtesy to give you that explanation, in as much detail as YOU need, is not worth dealing with. I can short circuit all of this for you, though: you can request tie rod end inspection/replacement for your vehicle. A certified mechanic will come out and not only examine the tie rods but the rest of the front end as well. He or she will let you know of any required parts pertinent to the alignment and estimate it for you. The parts can be installed by the mobile mechanic at your location, thus eliminating the shop overhead and most important of all, as noted, you will get an intelligible explanation of EXACTLY what is going on. If you elect to have the parts replaced on a mobile basis, at the completion of the repair, you will have to take the car to a professional shop to have an alignment. A professional shop does not use ancient hieroglyphics to conceal the details of a transaction so you might want to scout out alternative professional alignment shops. If you request the tie rod end inspection/replacement the responding certified mechanic will get this fully resolved for. As you wend your way through this, if you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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