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Q: Lower control arm - 2010 Chevrolet HHR

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I took my car to get an alignment and they told me my lower control arms are bad on both sides. I don't feel any symptoms I looked up. Only when I hit the brakes lightly at a red light or some sort. I'm wondering if it could be the lower control arms or are they just out for my money

My car has 124000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: The tolerance in toe setting (for example; ...

The tolerance in toe setting (for example; there are other alignment angles) in a modern car, including yours, is around .040 inches. That (.040 inches) is the thickness of ten strands of hair piled on each other (I measured my wife’s hair because most of mine has fallen out). That tight tolerance means that to get an "accurate" reading, and result, on modern alignment equipment, that is equipped with lasers nowadays, there has to be essentially zero "play" in the suspension.

If there were any play at all, such would completely eclipse the allowed tolerance, making the alignment useless, at least insofar as what can be achieved (that is, it is possible to do a lousy job with a loose suspension but the best thing to do, of course, is to obtain the alignment "results" specified by Chevrolet, the manufacturer of your car. Your best bet by far is to simply have them demonstrate to you the looseness that they claim exists in the assembly. Such is not rocket science and so all they need do is give you an up close look at their diagnostic and you should be able to judge for yourself whether the Mechanic is giving a reasonable and credible account of himself.

If the arms are bad (it would be the bushings and/or ball joint if on the arm), and you do replace them and proceed with the alignment, make sure you get a print-out of the final alignment settings (if they can’t do that, you got the wrong shop) and additionally, before the alignment is set, do tell the Mechanic that you want the alignment on the car set to the PREFERRED settings published by the car manufacturer.

If you don’t give that instruction, they will simply set the alignment anywhere within a "range" that although "allowed" by the manufacturer is obviously not as good as just setting to the PREFERRED settings. After all, you are paying for the alignment.

If you have any further concerns, don’t hesitate to recontact us. And if you’d like a second opinion on this, have one of our mobile technicians inspect your suspension system firsthand.

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