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Old 02-14-2011, 09:10 PM
 
Location: outer boroughs, NYC
905 posts, read 2,722,084 times
Reputation: 450

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I strongly suspect the people at Jiffy Lube botched my wheel alignment a few weeks ago. I wasn't having any problems with the steering, and I went in for an oil change, and it had been awhile since my last alignment, so I had one done. Ever since then, my car has been driving with a very noticeable drift.

So, I was just curious, does anyone have any idea what the odds are that my suspicion is correct? If I'm probably right, what could have gone wrong? If I'm probably wrong, what could the problem be?

If it looks like I'm right (or maybe even if it doesn't), I still have the receipt, so I'll of course go down there and explain the situation and demand that they rectify the problem for free. But I really don't know anything about cars, and I like to have a little knowledge of the situation before I get any maintenance done, so I figured I'd pose the question here. FYI, the car is a '99 Camry with about 130k miles. I've never had any problems with the steering before (and neither did my mom, who was the previous owner).
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:40 PM
 
Location: U.S.A.
3,306 posts, read 10,864,693 times
Reputation: 2956
Avoid chain shops for alignments. It is EXTREMELY difficult to find shops that do proper alignment and going to a chain place is asking for trouble. Demand before and after alignment measurements to prove that they have done the work and did it correctly. Almost all chain shops do half ass alignment jobs and expect that the customer wont notice or care, it's sickening. Honestly, if it were me I would find a reputable independent shop to do such careful work and cut your losses with Jiffy lube, they are garbage.

Something else you can do (if you have the know how) is take white-out and mark all of the linkages/components that will get adjusted... a little swipe across the junctions of everything that should be moved. It can can be very difficult dealing with this type of issue. I have even caught shops red-handed trying to tell me my vehicle was aligned yet my white-out marks remained undisturbed... they even went through the trouble of fudging the before-and-after figures on the paperwork, outright LIES!

You've been warned! Good luck, make sure they do the work and keep complaining and bringing the vehicle back until you are satisfied.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
204 posts, read 1,437,520 times
Reputation: 283
Avoid "Stupid Lube" franchises at all costs. I arrived here (Anchorage, AK) 1999. Back then, I could get a 10 minute oil change for $22.00. A a few years later the cost doubled and the oil changes took so long they required you to sit in the lobby. Now prices have tripled. That's because they make little money on oil changes, but profit on high pressure sales of over priced belts, filters, wiper blades and fluids. A major issue is these kids aren't true mechanics, so they shouldn't poking around under your hood if it doesn't directly relate to an oil change. Morale and pay is low, so you cannot reasonably expect satisfactory or consistent customer service. Just for fun, Google "Jiffy Lube Sucks" and count the pages filled with complaints.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:55 AM
 
3,743 posts, read 12,441,724 times
Reputation: 2766
Any alignment shop should be able to give you a print out of the alignment specs before and after they align the car, and should be able to match numbers across the car for symmetry. Many chain shops just train a grease monkey to run the program and if the customer isn't watching, close is good enough.

I personally watch the tech align my car and talk with him during the process, get his feedback, etc. Some things you just need to be involved with imo to ensure they are done properly.

Your best bet now is to go back, state that the alignment is off, and have them pull the specs and see - if they didn't give you a print out from the first time, tell them they didn't align the car correctly and to prove otherwise.

All that said, different cars have different alignment capabilities, and any damage to the suspension (like driving over a rock) can make a perfect alignment impossible, but the tech should be able to tell you such.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:06 AM
 
33,414 posts, read 30,929,453 times
Reputation: 19951
personally i wont even go to jackass lube for anything ever again. if i needed to go to the bathroom, or mess my pants, and jackass lube was the only place around, i would mess my pants rather than step foot in a jackass lube again.

as for getting a suspension alignment from them, pffft, forget it. better to pay a little more and go to a real alignment shop, or even better learn how to do it yourself. it isnt hard, and the tools needed are quite simple.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:30 AM
 
Location: un peu près de Chicago
773 posts, read 2,379,710 times
Reputation: 523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lux Hauler View Post
Avoid chain shops for alignments. It is EXTREMELY difficult to find shops that do proper alignment and going to a chain place is asking for trouble. Demand before and after alignment measurements ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by IMOGAJAD View Post
Avoid "Stupid Lube" franchises at all costs. ... A major issue is these kids aren't true mechanics, so they shouldn't poking around under your hood if it doesn't directly relate to an oil change.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sayantsi View Post
Any alignment shop should be able to give you a print out of the alignment specs before and after they align the car, and should be able to match numbers across the car for symmetry. Many chain shops just train a grease monkey to run the program and if the customer isn't watching, close is good enough. ... I personally watch the tech align my car ...
There you go. Good advice from the folks above.

Always ask, before the work is done, whether the shop provides an automated, dated computer readout of the before and after alignment readings. And pay with a credit card.

On many (most?) later cars, caster and camber cannot be adjusted, only toe-in. Adjustment of caster or chamber in such cars requires mechanical work and probably a parts replacement. On some cars, rear-wheel toe-in adjustment can also be done (extra $$$).

I would avoid going back to Jiffy Lube (for anything). Take your car to another alignment shop and ask for an alignment check. If it differs from the "after" readings from the first shop, dispute the original charge with your credit card company. You will have written evidence of their poor work.

The drift could be caused by a difference in tire pressure or wear on the tires. (But I doubt it.) You could check the air pressure and swap the tires side-to-side to see if the direction of drift changes.

Good luck.

PS: I must say one good thing about oil change franchises like Jiffy Lube:
Quote:
"all facilities that sell oil or provide oil change services and have the facilities to store and dispose of used oil, are required by law to accept waste oil from individuals."
I have a Jiffy Lube place about a mile from home, and I have never had a problem dropping off used oil and oil filters with them.

Last edited by Zea mays; 02-15-2011 at 08:51 AM..
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
15,808 posts, read 50,849,348 times
Reputation: 15570
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonwattagelimit View Post
I strongly suspect the people at Jiffy Lube botched my wheel alignment a few weeks ago. I wasn't having any problems with the steering, and I went in for an oil change, and it had been awhile since my last alignment, so I had one done. Ever since then, my car has been driving with a very noticeable drift.

So, I was just curious, does anyone have any idea what the odds are that my suspicion is correct? If I'm probably right, what could have gone wrong? If I'm probably wrong, what could the problem be?

If it looks like I'm right (or maybe even if it doesn't), I still have the receipt, so I'll of course go down there and explain the situation and demand that they rectify the problem for free. But I really don't know anything about cars, and I like to have a little knowledge of the situation before I get any maintenance done, so I figured I'd pose the question here. FYI, the car is a '99 Camry with about 130k miles. I've never had any problems with the steering before (and neither did my mom, who was the previous owner).
Probably the knuckleheads put too much air in one front tire, or let too much out of one.

Learn to DIY your oil changes, it's not only cheaper, but you won't screw up your own car. You know as much or more about changing oil as the typical J-L pimple-faced kid. Or if you just can't swing that, go to a proper shop, ideally a small independent service shop that specializes in Toys.
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:03 PM
 
Location: outer boroughs, NYC
905 posts, read 2,722,084 times
Reputation: 450
Hmm...OK, I'd guess I'll just stop going to Jiffy Lube once this problem is fixed. I still have the receipt, and I did pay with a credit card. I don't know if it has the alignment readings, but I will check. I may return to the thread with some questions about the proper specs.

My plan is to go to Jiffy Lube, show them the receipt, explain the problem and demand that it is fixed for free. This drift is pretty ridiculous and you'd have to pay absolutely no attention to how you drive to not notice it and it was not like this before I had the work done. I'll make sure to check the pressure in the tires before I go to make sure it isn't that, but I've driven with one off-pressure tire before and the drift was not nearly this bad.

Worst-case scenario, I know a good and honest local mechanic that I use for all my big repairs. I don't go to him for oil changes and that sort of thing because it's a small shop and his hours are pretty inconvenient for someone who works a 9-to-5 job. But I can bring it to him and have him do the alignment if Jiffy Lube doesn't get it right - I don't want to have to pay twice, but I'm willing to part with another fifty bucks to make sure my car drives straight.

Anyway, thanks for all the advice!
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:13 PM
 
Location: outer boroughs, NYC
905 posts, read 2,722,084 times
Reputation: 450
Quote:
That's because they make little money on oil changes, but profit on high pressure sales of over priced belts, filters, wiper blades and fluids.
Funny thing: on the same visit that I got the botched alignment, they seriously overcharged me for wiper blades. I asked the woman how much they cost, and she said "15 bucks," so I figured, eh, I'm perfectly capable of changing them myself but I really hate doing stuff like that (I am not mechanically inclined and get impatient even doing simple stuff like putting together furniture from Ikea - so, for those of you who suggest that I do my own oil changes and alignments, yeah, not happening, even though I probably could if I really wanted to) so for 15 bucks I'll just have them do it. The blades were 15 bucks each, which, needless to say, is ridiculous. I felt like a fool, but lesson learned.
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Old 02-15-2011, 06:40 PM
 
Location: U.S.A.
3,306 posts, read 10,864,693 times
Reputation: 2956
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonwattagelimit View Post
I don't know if it has the alignment readings, but I will check.
About a 90% chance they do but also a 90% chance they will try to weasel out of it. Though its not always the case, chain shops with corporate funding usually have nice computerized alignment systems. All such systems are capable of providing measurements. Even if YOU don't know what the measurements mean thats fine because THEY don't know what you know! It will at the least somewhat pressure them into doing the job correctly even if it means they have to postpone their cigarette break.
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