Anyone know how to talk to mechanic re: tire alignment?

lindaylinday Member Posts: 7
edited March 2014 in Nissan
Please help me talk to my mechanic...

I went over a curb edge and now the rear right tire appears to have moved closer backwards to the bodywork. Basically, the rear tires are no longer parallel now.

On this wheel, there is a significant difference in the gap between the back and front of the tire to the bodywork.

The steering wheel was also off as a result. It was at 10 o'clock while in the neutral position.

The Nissan mechanics inspected the car and told me that the muffler looks scuffed but other than that, there were no major damages nor leaking fluids.

So, they fixed the alignment.

The alignment is OK BUT the rear right tire did not set back to its "proper" place. It still looks misplaced and thus, the rear tires are still no longer parallel

Shouldn't an alignment have adjusted the tire to its proper position?

I am planning to return back to the Nissan mechanics tomorrow.

Your advice would be much appreciated. What type of questions should be asking?



  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    You will need to have a 4 wheel alignment done. Not just a front end alignment.
    Seems to me you explained it well enough for them to understand.
    Ask them for the printout on the alignment, so we can see what the settings are.
    You should really find a quality alignment shop that does 4 wheel alignment. From the sounds of it, the dealer doesn't.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    yes, Opatience is right. You cannot visually assess what it going on, as tire angles, position, can fool you.
  • lindaylinday Member Posts: 7
    My saga continues...

    I returned this morning to the mechanics (Nissan dealer) and asked them why the right rear tire still is displaced (pushed extremely close to the bumper) even after the 4-wheel alignment job.

    The Service Mgr informed me that he even looked at the under carriage and did not find anything wrong. But he said he'll look at the under carriage again.

    This time, the Nissan mechanics informed me that there the frame appears bent and will need to be fixed in a collission shop.

    At the collision shop, the mechanics inform me that the rear control arm is falling off (and as I look under the car, I can visually see it hanging loose). They tell me it would be very dangerous to drive it as the arm can fall off.

    Basically, the estimate from the collission shop is close to 3K.

    My question now... why couldn't Nissan see the obvious damage and address it properly during my first visit.

    Basically, I paid Nissan for an alignment job and for a 30,000 mile inspection. And the Service Manager has the gall to tell me "your car escaped danger."
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Before you go much further, since you said you hit a curb, if you have full coverage, I would go to your insurance agent and explain the entire deal. If you have full coverage insurance, it should be covered.
    Once you have the insurance going, then I would advise the service department that it has to be fixed, how they deal with their mistake will decide if it is fixed there or somewhere else.
    Then ask your insurance what shops they list as service first shops. These are shops that are preapproved by the insurance company and most insurance companies will allow you to go directly to them, without several quotes. It may end up costing you only the deductable.
    Something to check into.
  • lindaylinday Member Posts: 7
    My insurance company and the collision shop are working together as I type this.

    While my car is being fixed...I am still upset that the dealer told me that my car "escaped danger" and that there were no visiible damage to the under carriage.

    Now we know that is false and that the dealer sent me away with a 4-wheel alignment job and a 30,000 service inspection. (The collision shop mechanics adviced me that the car would be dangerous to drive and that the control arm could fall-off easily).

    Now, I am thinking of talking to the dealer and asking them how they neglected to notice the severe damage to my car. I also believe this is the type of negligence that should be reported.

    Does anyone have suggestions on what bureau(s) should I write a letter to.

    Does anyone have similar experience?

  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Does anyone have suggestions on what bureau(s) should I write a letter to.
    Depends on what state you live in.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    And trying to figure out that really is going on is tough!

    How could a dealer do an alignment and not notice this??

    I don't understand...
  • lindaylinday Member Posts: 7
    Update -

    I have learned a huge lesson from my mistake and from working with the collision shop, the dealer and the insurance company. I would appreciate more feedback on how to proceed next...

    The collision shop is certified to work with my insurance company (State Farm).

    I have been informed that the estimate for repairs will reach 4K (originally, I was told 2.1K, then 3K, and now 4K). Basically, I am hearing that the under carraige is damaged to such a degree that it has become a piece of junk.

    My car was probably worth 8K - 8.6K at most (when it was in decent condition).

    I want to know what options I have ...
    a) go forth with repairs as long as insurance allows and accept the fact that I will have higher insurance premiums.

    b) halt repairs...and try to sell car to a junkyard (If I don't collect insurance damages, will my premium still rise?)

    c) halt repairs...and donate car (and hopefully try to gain blue book value for donation)

    I am considering which path to take in order to ...
    a) protect myself from HUGE insurance premium increases

    b) I don't like the idea of driving a vechicle that has been damaged to this degree

    c) recover as much $ from my car from selling or donating it. HOw much do you think a junk yard will pay me for it? (I have no intentions to sell to an individual.)

    There is soooo much to learn from this process...
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    you're ahead on the value, I would fix it. a car fixed correctly by a reputable shop full of A-Car certificated techs will be safe. if they can't fix it, they should tell you. the car would likely then be totalled by the insurance company. I would expect the insurance company will get after the outfit that did the so-called alignment for reimbursement, and if so, I would expect they should not hammer you on future premiums... but I would try to get that in writing.

    I have taken several edits on this, trying to get the right tone... but it really smells dangerous to me that the dealer had several cracks at this, as I remember the thread, and fumbled a Safety issue massively. I am quite wobbly on whether to document the entire process with photocopies and send it to your local Department of Commerce or equivalent, and the dealer general manager and Service VP at the car maker... or whether to make a BBB complaint... or whether to just tell all your friends.

    but rufus and bubba back in the shop, who ate donuts under the lift at your expense instead of noticing the car could not be aligned without a bunch of work they couldn't do because they never looked at the problem, should definitely be on the street IMHO. no excuse for not noticing the suspension parts are hanging down broken.
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    I would turn the bill from the dealer for the "alignment" over to the insurance company. It is part of the collision repair, and should count toward your deductible. Then any claim against the dealer is the insurance company's problem, not yours.

    Make a copy first, and offer the copy. Don't give up your "paid" receipt unless the insurance company gives you written acknowledgement of receipt. That's right, you want a receipt for your receipt.

    Keep cool and make copies of everything, you have rights to a fair settlement. Without documentation there can be confusion as to what you have paid or received.

  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I would agree with the last posts. The repairs and alignment from the dealer should be part of your deductable.
    Talk to the insurance appraiser and ask them how this will affect your premiums. Also, do not let State Farm close the claim until the vehicle is fixed correctly. I am battling right now with a body shop (a dealer shop) on an accident repair that they did not do properly. My insurance company has withheld payment to them, until the job is corrected. They haven't seemed to anxious to fix it right.
  • lindaylinday Member Posts: 7
    As of this morning, the Nissan Service Manager has informed me that he will issue me a full refund for the so-called alignment and for labor portion of the 30K inspection services. I will just pay for the parts.

    I had to haggle but in the end I got most of my money back from the dealer.

    Of course, I am still prepared to write to Nissan American about this dealer's wobbly work ethics.

    As for the is now in the repair shop for $3700 in damages (so far).
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I think "wobbly work ethics" is the correct approach, it is a good thing that you were refunded your money.

    there are at least three Nissans running satisfactorily in the us (huge wide ironic grin), and hope once you're past this nastiness you will get good results from yours.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    Well you learned a lesson about alignments: ALWAYS insist upon a before after print out from the alignment computer. You would be surprised at the times you get "OH we ran out of paper" Fine inform them you'll get some and they can put it back on the rack when you return and start the process all over!
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    I amazes me that owners who should get alignments every 6 months don't have a clue as to the process or expected results!
    Camber, Caster, Toe, setback, thrust angle are not complex terms!
    A little discussion and a $20 tip with the technican has a way of getting things as close to perfect as possible, instead of the slam bam thank you just inside the factory broad range so that you need another alignment when you drive around the block setting!
    You may find he works an hour instead of 15 minutes on your car!
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416

    use the SEARCH function on the above site "alignments"'ll find 54 articles from the magazine family.

  • tbonertboner Member Posts: 402
    Last time my Buick was in for an alignment, it was on the rack, and being worked for 90 minutes.

    Of course, he may not have been very good.

    When I first got my SVT Contour, a good alignment guy took nearly the same time. Of course I don't think it had been touched since it left the KC factory, and I purchased the car used. It took a bit of the "hot wrench" to get the settings right.

    My bill for that day (which included swapping the rear rotors while I was there, more hot-wrench work) was $125, but I was very happy with the results.


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