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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently changed my control arms and went in for a free alignment check at wheel works.

Here is some of the history of my present problem:

My last alignment was in 2009 when I bought my new tires and specifications are listed below: (yes its strange how the car is not all in the "green")
<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii211/rody1285/Foot001.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>


with these specs 15,000- 20,000 miles later the tires look like this:

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii211/rody1285/DSC03496-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii211/rody1285/DSC03486.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

Today when I went in they did the alignment check and told me I needed an alignment and charged me $90.00 and gave me this low resolution piece of paper I guess these are the new specs:

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii211/rody1285/NewNumbers.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>


When I asked them why the camber was not in the "specified rage", one guy told me that since my car was "lowered" that its all they could do, and that it was better to get as close as possible even if its not in the range.

Another guy told me that they didn't have the tool to adjust the camber. (bmw tool 323140)

To make it all worse the careless tire employee did not use the wood 2x4 and tore my fender liner up as he came off the rack. Worst experience I have had at a shop. The guy just forced it back into place improperly braking the mounting points and tearing up the liner even more.

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii211/rody1285/DSC03506.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

I told the manager and he inspected the damage and told me he would order me a replacement liner and call me when he gets it. I asked him why the cambers were off and he told me its because the car is lowered. I also noticed that the whole time the guy was working under the car, never even popped the hood... how could he have even attempted to adjust the cambers if he didn't pop the hood?

So here are my questions:

1. Is the tire damage due to the alignment?
2. Is it true that they cannot align a car that has been lowered?
3. Will I have more tire damage with these new specs? I am planning on getting some new tires tomorrow.
4. Was this even a legit alignment?
5. I am still having a pull toward the right, if I replace the tires will the car drive straight on these new specs?
6. The steering wheel is not dead center when I am going straight it is slightly to the left when I drive straight.

Anyone?
 

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I recently changed my control arms and went in for a free alignment check at wheel works.

So here are my questions:

1. Is the tire damage due to the alignment?

Is your tire rubbing? If not, then if you mean that scrubbing on the outer edge of tire, it probably is alignment, but seems more like rubbing...hard to see any variation in depth of the tread from your photos.

2. Is it true that they cannot align a car that has been lowered?

You can lower it so you can't get the camber right...with too tight tires (what are you running?), I've heard this from my mechanic who's seen it many times...there are kits, I know, that evidently allow you to adjust camber, but I don't know much about them...and I think it's for the rear, but again, idk.
3. Will I have more tire damage with these new specs? I am planning on getting some new tires tomorrow.

4. Was this even a legit alignment?
Not if it pulls and steering wheel isn't horizontal...they should set the steering wheel dead level and then align...so it seems like they missed the center spot...and I know in my car, I've had the same issue.


5. I am still having a pull toward the right, if I replace the tires will the car drive straight on these new specs?

Undoubtedly it will track the same as it is now...new tires won't fix alignment.

6. The steering wheel is not dead center when I am going straight it is slightly to the left when I drive straight.

Anyone?
Check your air pressure...should have been aligned with perfect pressure and you might 'fix' your pull a little prior to getting it realigned, by changing pressure...dropping it on front left and raising it on rt. rear...maybe 1/2 lb. change in both...but that's just a temporary measure.

That's a start...sorry I don't know all you want to know...but trying to help!

Doug
 

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The tire wear that you show in the photo is indicative of an alignment problem. Excessive camber. I presume that the wear was on the inside of the tire (toward the center). Were these run on the rear position at any time? Do you carry extra weight in the rear of your car? Has your suspension been altered? If it was altered, by what method? When you altered your suspension, did you also add adjustable camber plates and arms? If not, you will need to do so to allow your tires to last. Just adding cut springs, or lowering springs, changes the suspension axis, which results in the excessive negative camber, and further results in a worn out tire on one edge. Again reinforcing my stance on modifications. Do you consider yourself better than the BMW Factory Engineer? Is, "The Look, or The Stance," more important to you? Then continue to replace your tires at a higher rate.

I also have to ask, how often do you look at your tires? You should have caught this before you got into the belts. Also the Toe condition of the car leads me to believe that you may have a ball joint issue as well. I'd further make the speculation that the worn out tire came from the passenger side of your car. The wear and pulling that you described, along with the readings from the alignment shop tell me that the right side, and especially the front suspension is worn out. This is not abnormal, since the passenger side runs in the dirty part of the highway, and the roughest treatment is normally experienced on the passenger side as well. Why? Because the driver side is directly in your line of sight, and you will miss the pot holes more when you see them better.

I don't know how many miles you have on your 323, but I have to ask, did you have someone qualified inspect the car, and are you sure that you did not have suspension issues prior to installing your short springs? Your car is at least 10 years old, and maybe as much as 12. How many miles on the suspension components? Did you consider rebuilding the suspension before you spent the big bucks on wheels and tires and altered springs? Those style 44's did not come on your 323 and you don't have the sport package. Probably not, in fact, obviously not. Who did the drop for you? If it was a shop, did they tell you that you would have wear issues? Probably not again.

Find a competent Front End shop and let them tell you exactly what you need to replace and follow their advice.
 

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Getting the steering wheel straight is the first thing that should be done with an alignment! If they didn't get that right, I would not trust anything else they did!

Assuming the second tire picture is the front, the front toe adjustment they made should help with the inner tire wear. Toe has a greater effect on the wearing of the inner side of the tire (with negative camber) than camber (unless it is very negative) You had toe "out" of about 0.6 for each wheel = total 1.2 and now have a toe "in" of 0.1 each or 0.2 total, toe "in" is correct.

I would look for another alignment shop, if they didn't open the hood, they didn't even try to adjust the front camber. It can be done without the BMW special tool, it helps to make fine adjustment to the camber.
Normally there is about a half degree of camber adjustment available in the E46 front suspension.

Lowering the car will normally increase the negative camber, they may not be able to adjust it back to the normal specs (the actual BMW specs are at a specific ride height)
You should have purchased the new tires first, and then had the alignment done, that takes all the tire wear out of the alignment equation.

Learn more about alignment here: (more than you ever wanted to know)
http://www.hunter.com/videos/index.cfm?cat=2

Look at the "Basic Alignment" section, toe and camber videos-
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The tire wear that you show in the photo is indicative of an alignment problem. Excessive camber. I presume that the wear was on the inside of the tire (toward the center). Were these run on the rear position at any time? Do you carry extra weight in the rear of your car? Has your suspension been altered? If it was altered, by what method? When you altered your suspension, did you also add adjustable camber plates and arms? If not, you will need to do so to allow your tires to last. Just adding cut springs, or lowering springs, changes the suspension axis, which results in the excessive negative camber, and further results in a worn out tire on one edge. Again reinforcing my stance on modifications. Do you consider yourself better than the BMW Factory Engineer? Is, "The Look, or The Stance," more important to you? Then continue to replace your tires at a higher rate.

I also have to ask, how often do you look at your tires? You should have caught this before you got into the belts. Also the Toe condition of the car leads me to believe that you may have a ball joint issue as well. I'd further make the speculation that the worn out tire came from the passenger side of your car. The wear and pulling that you described, along with the readings from the alignment shop tell me that the right side, and especially the front suspension is worn out. This is not abnormal, since the passenger side runs in the dirty part of the highway, and the roughest treatment is normally experienced on the passenger side as well. Why? Because the driver side is directly in your line of sight, and you will miss the pot holes more when you see them better.

I don't know how many miles you have on your 323, but I have to ask, did you have someone qualified inspect the car, and are you sure that you did not have suspension issues prior to installing your short springs? Your car is at least 10 years old, and maybe as much as 12. How many miles on the suspension components? Did you consider rebuilding the suspension before you spent the big bucks on wheels and tires and altered springs? Those style 44's did not come on your 323 and you don't have the sport package. Probably not, in fact, obviously not. Who did the drop for you? If it was a shop, did they tell you that you would have wear issues? Probably not again.

Find a competent Front End shop and let them tell you exactly what you need to replace and follow their advice.
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Yes all the ones with significant wear are on the inside of the front tires.

The car was lowered before I purchased it from the original owner. Method is unknown. What exactly was done is unknown, A bmw mechanic once told me that I had some high performance springs. I never chose to have the car lowered but I do feel a tight, stiff suspension, minimal sway on sharp turns.

at about 180K tip top condition. I recently replace both control arms, both control arm bushing, tie rods, rear trailing arm bushings and the rear control arms.

what are the function of the camber plates? will it allow me to fall into alignment specification with them? Does this mean that ALL lowered cars have alignment and wear issues?


I am getting some tires today cheap ones, either sunny, falken, or delinte. anyone know anything about these I got quoted a set of sunnys installed with mount and balance for $190.00., delinte $260, falken $300.
 

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The camber plates allow you more adjustment on the fronts. The rears use adjustable control arms. You can get them from Bav Auto. These plates and arms will allow you to get closer.

You will always have issues with an altered suspension, unless your remove your entire suspension system and go with something like a set of coil overs. Look at how your suspension components triangulate and where the intersection occurs. As you bring the suspension back to the stock location, look at where the intersection occurs then. When your suspension was dumped, the camber went negative by a goodly amount. Your alignment shop was able to bring it back some. Your included angle and caster is still way out. Your toe was in the toe out mode on the right side. This caused your pulling and abnormal wear. If you got your alignment set with the old tires, then the car would still pull some. You indicated that your steering wheel was out of alignment when driving straight ahead. That is easily overcome. They just missed it. Take it back and ***** like hell.
 

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If you look at his print out, you will find that the camber is out of spec, both before and after. You want to try that again?
 

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If you don't have a reputable shop get it done at a dealer. Tire wear is def camber specifically negative camber, typical of lowered cars without camber/caster kits. Depending on how much you're lowered you may not be able to get in spec without a kit or further slotting the strut towers (not advised).

Questions 3-5 can't read specs... type em out and I'll answer.

Steering wheel is actually quite difficult to get dead centre on almost all cars... Probably the hardest thing to do that the customer notices most. If it's off by 2 degrees just go with it, the tech will appreciate it. Honestly it's a b!tch... done my share of alignments. If specs are in the 'green' the wheel being off will not affect your tire wear.

Let's put it this way, I have aligned my car on our laser aligner at work, can do for free on my own time... my steering wheel isn't straight :D
 

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If you look at his print out, you will find that the camber is out of spec, both before and after. You want to try that again?
If you look closer at his alignment, think a little harder, and mix in a little experience, the camber isn't the issue.

For starts, camber doesn't accelerate tire wear. Camber is simply tilting the top of the wheels inward, and puts a weight bias on one side of the tire and removing weight of the other side of the same tire. There is no increase in tire scrub or any shearing effect of the rubber against the road solely from camber.

Toe angle on the other hand, can very much so accelerate tire wear. The greater the toe angle in any direction, the greater the amount of tire scrub. With no camber, and too much toe angle, the entire surface of the tire will wear out prematurely.

Mix excessive toe angle along any sort of camber, and you get heavy wear on the side with the greater weight and less wear on the side with less weight. Then there is the weird thing where there was a huge change in toe angle at the initial alignment. Something weird is going on with the alignments.

You want to try that again?
 

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Sure you do, but with the excessive negative camber, along with the toe out on the passenger side, is accelerating the wear. The excessive negative camber is also causing the other issues, such as included angle, and caster problems. I'd love to see a universal anti tampering law regarding altered heights. There are too many idiots that alter their ride heights with a torch.
 

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toe is the MAIN issue to accelerated tire wear. camber does play a part, but bad toe will chew up a tie way faster than neg camber ever will
 

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How does camber affect caster angle? :confused:
It's actually called trailing angle, caster is fixed. What happens as the front axle sweeps from left to right (turns) is that the trailing angle changes. Its a function of camber, caster and wheel offset. Because front pivot point is away from the actual line that the wheel center travels, it changes camber, and to a small extent caster, when measured from the absolute axial centerline of the wheel regardless of deflection.

There is significant wear on the very insides of the tires. Camber in and of itself will not cause this extreme wear. As Miles has stated, a tire at zero toe will create a roughly cone shaped contact patch if there is camber present. Tire compounds are designed "adapt" and deflect from the pressure. If the tire were solid (not soft and pliable), then the contact patch would be concentrated on a very small point of the tire's inside edge (in the case of negative camber). Toe turns the tire (in or out) and will in effect create wear akin to dragging the tire sideways. Add camber and it concentrates the wear to a smaller area. In this case, camber was fine, toe was excessive. This is what created the extreme wear.
 

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Pull to the right after CA/CAB change also

OP,

my ride also pulls to the right also after I changed the control arms and bushings.

I didn't immediately get an alignment because I was planning to install Bilstein coilovers (which I did) and put on 4 new Conti tires.

Then I took it to a shop for an alignment. Afterwhich the car still pulls to the right! :( I assumed the alignment would have taken care of the it. But the pull to the right was definitely there before I lowered the car on the coil overs. Steering wheel is straight, though, in my case.

So did you get yours to stop pulling to the right? Any suggestions other than getting another alignment from a different shop?

I plan to install adjustable rear control arms as my old tires were seriously worn on the inside and then get another alignment. I don't know if I need front camber plates or not.

Is there an easy way to tell if I need the fronts also? My old front tires were not worn excessively like the rears.

TIA!
 

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I'm getting wear on the outside of my rear tires. What does that mean to this noob? would this be a sign of a bad subframe? Havent had mine checked out as of yet.
 

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