Q: Thrust angle alignment

asked by on December 30, 2016

I am looking to buy an 2008 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD with 98,000 miles. I checked the Carfax report on the vehicle and noticed it had a thrust angle alignment. What is a thrust angle alignment and is this something to be concerned about? The vehicle was sold about 5,000 miles after this was done. I just want to make sure this will not be a major issue.

My car has 98000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A thrust angle alignment, which I will explain momentarily, is a mundane, routine alignment procedure which is in fact performed every time a vehicle has a 4 wheel alignment. A quick digression though: I am surprised to hear that it is a "line item" in a Carfax report, or any report frankly, because typically the "thrust angle" is, again, just simply part and parcel, or "built-in", to a routine 4 wheel alignment. Consequently, my concern would be if perhaps something "special" was done, and thence recorded on service papers, due to damage or accident damage. So, the alignment "technique" itself is NOT unusual but you just want to be sure there is no undisclosed damage. YourMechanic does offer a pre-purchase vehicle inspection in the event you want a really comprehensive, in depth examination of he vehicle.

The track of a vehicle, that is the direction it will tend to drive down the road, will be along an imaginary line drawn longitudinally, on or near the vehicle centerline, perpendicular to the rear axle. If that imaginary line coincides exactly with the vehicle centerline (on the frame), you have a "zero thrust angle" and that would be preferred and is indeed "perfect". On the other had, if the rear axle is not perfectly perpendicular to the centerline of the frame of the car, that is if it is slightly offset, at a small angle, the vehicle body will not track straight down the road. Adjusting the thrust angle corrects for that and adjusting the thrust angle is often necessary because in vehicle assembly there can be minor imperfections in the position of the suspension. If the position of the rear axle is fixed (not adjustable) relative to the frame, what is done during a thrust angle alignment is the front wheels are adjusted such that the front wheels are running completely parallel to the rear wheels. Once so adjusted the car will travel in a straight line. If the vehicle has an adjustable rear suspension, usually the rear wheels can be adjusted such that those wheels are parallel to an imaginary longitudinal centerline of the car and then the front wheels are simply adjusted to be parallel to the rear wheels. A thrust angle of zero is of course preferred because that means that the rear axle is perfectly perpendicular to the centerline of the car. In practice, the axle can be offset a little bit, with acceptable results, and that is why the front wheels will just simply be set parallel to the rear wheels no what the final thrust angle is. The bottom line is, if the car is perfectly aligned, you should be able to drive it straight on a flat road and the steering wheel should be perfectly centered. The vehicle should not pull to either side AND you should be able to let go of the wheel and the car should travel straight ahead on its own for a reasonable distance, which would typically be at least a tenth of a mile. The point is the car should generally track straight ahead, all by itself with only very, very minor steering input. If it doesn’t track in this fashion, then it’s not aligned well and/or it might have other deficiencies, perhaps as simple as uneven tire pressure but extending on up to worn suspension parts. Please let us know if we can assist you further as you consider this purchase.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

My car will not move while I put it in Gear

Hi Francisco. If you can feel the vehicle shift into gear after moving the shifter into a forward gear, then it's likely that there is internal damage inside the transmission. However, if you move the shifter but nothing appears to...

I have an Altima that stopped accelerating. Battery light and brake light on?

If you have a battery light on then it is most likely the alternator not charging the battery. The brake light may be on since the ABS will not work if the battery voltage drops below 12 volts. You should...

Accidentally grounded out hot wire to chassis, now no electric available.

Hello. There are high current fusible links that should be tested before you look at the relays, particularly the circuit opening relay(s). These links are depicted on the factory wiring diagram for the vehicle. Since you short-circuited the battery, it's...

Replace water pump

Hello. If your vehicle is leaking antifreeze, especially at the water pump, then I would stop driving the vehicle and get it repaired as soon as possible. An engine leaking at the water pump is likely to overheat quickly, which...

How do I clean and protect the inside?

You want to keep the interior of the car just as clean and nice-looking as the outside. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt. Use a damp clean cloth to wipe down dirty surfaces. Clean leather areas...

My car starts shaking when i accelerate over 50 mph. I have had my tires balance and rotated. I put air tires and new brakes.

Common causes of the vibration you are describing include wheel bearing faults, wheel/tire assembly imbalance, and defective tires. Other, less common possibilities include suspension faults (strut/shock failure), loose or worn out motor mounts, and even exhaust system faults. Certain tire...

Is bank 2 sensor 1 upstream or downstream?

Anytime the code reader says sensor 1, it is referring to the upstream. Anytime the code reader says sensor 2, it is referring to the downstream. If you need further assistance with your oxygen sensors, then seek out a professional,...

Radiator replacement costs 1998 Toyota Camry

As you may already know or have experienced, labor and part quotes on your vehicle can vary quite a bit depending on where you go and the mechanic doing the estimate. The reason for this is that different mechanics have...

Car is ticking louder after spark plug replace

It is possible that the spark plugs were not correct that were installed in your vehicle and not could be causing the spark to be insufficient. I would recommend confirming that you installed the correct part number spark plug on...

Related articles

How to Inspect a Used Car For Damage
Car Car accidents happen hundreds of times every day, and sometimes cars are repaired under-the-table without having been reported. Some cars get squashed while others are sold for scrap, but there are also those that can get repaired and put...
Why Are My Tires Wearing Out Faster Than Normal?
If If you noticed that one or more of your tires are exhibiting signs of abnormal wear or is wearing out at a suspiciously fast rate, it may be a sign that there are other problems with your vehicle. Your...
How Much Does Physical Damage Affect the Value of a Used Car?
So, So, you've found the perfect used car. The color is right, it has navigation and even a sunroof! As you walk around it in awe, daydreaming about taking it down the highway with your favorite song playing, you see...