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Q: wheel alignment

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I just quoted to have "Stabilizer Bar Links Replacement (Front)" & "Shock Absorber Replacement (Rear)" for my Honda Pilot. I'm curious whether it's better to do a wheel alignment after replacing these suspension stuff. Do you provide wheel alignment as well? If not, is it safe to drive on the road after these replacements? Thanks!

A: Hello, thanks for writing in. I will be hap...

Hello, thanks for writing in. I will be happy to assist you with your concern about whether a wheel alignment must be performed after the installation of sway bar links in the front and shock absorbers in the rear of your 2008 Pilot. Technically, neither of those repairs implicates any component of your suspension that is adjustable insofar as alignment. So, the technical answer to your question is, "No alignment is necessary". Despite the fact that there is no reason that the alignment on your vehicle could change as a consequence of replacing the links or the shocks, most service manuals will nevertheless recommend that the alignment be checked at the time of this sort of work. As you can imagine, the recommendation is made just in case the alignment is out at the time you are there and it is just convenient to check it while you're there anyway.

If an alignment "check" costs extra as part of the job you have already arranged, your determination of whether it is worth doing or not will depend on how your tires are wearing and on that a tire shop can definitely use the wear patterns on your tires to give you a clue as to whether you need an alignment. There are also some new car dealers these days that have drive by alignment machines that basically will check your alignment almost effortlessly. Some will do such a check as a courtesy if they are not too busy if you just pull in and ask for some help. It is not costly for them to do so if they are not busy. So, there are several options for you to get a free indication of what the situation is.

If you are going to have your car aligned, think twice about where the work will be done. It is not well understood, but the alignment of a modern vehicle is set to tolerances that read like plus or minus .040 inches (forty thousandths of an inch). So, it's a job that has to be done on a CALIBRATED rack by somebody who can and will follow instructions. At minimum, at the shop, get a print-out of your alignment before any adjustments are made, a print-out of the preferred factory alignment settings, and if any work is done a print out of the final alignment settings if any adjustments were made to your car. If the shop elects to make changes be sure you indicate that you want any adjustments to be set to the factory preferred settings (as opposed to one or the other ends of the range of settings that can be used). When you leave the shop, make sure that your steering wheel is perfectly centered as you drive straight down the road. If it is not centered the alignment was not done correctly and you should of course return immediately.

YourMechanic does offer professional alignment and front end repair services. If you need service, or any further concerns arise, by all means please re-contact us and we will help you.

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