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Old 09-16-2011, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 6,422,210 times
Reputation: 2058

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Hi,
Car dummy here.
So i got a flat tire recently and brought my car ('97 Subaru Outback) to the Sears tire department.
They fixed the flat and asked me if i wanted them to check the alignment.
They told me that my rear wheels needed aligning but i passed as i didn't have the funds at the time.
I asked the guy if having wheels that aren't aligned will hurt the car and he said no and that it would just cause the tires to wear improperly / unevenly (or something like that).
I just want to make sure that my car won't be harmed in anyway until i can get the wheels aligned.
Thank you.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:11 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
36,452 posts, read 66,299,361 times
Reputation: 42305
I'd get tires at Sears if they had the best price on the ones I wanted, but would not recommend them for an alignment. I would try to get it done soon though. Bad alignment will wear the tires prematurely.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:45 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 80,609,989 times
Reputation: 36391
In the future, you can monitor alignment yourself.

Stroke the traction surface of the tire gently, parallel to the tread, with the palm of your hand. You may feel a very noticeable "cupping", which will feel like the tread is catching against your hand in one direction only,, but allowing your hand to pet the tire smoothly the other way, like stroking a cat the wrong way.

There is probably no way to avoid a little bit of cupping, but if it is fairly severe, that is an indicator that your wheels are out of alignment. Compare it with other cars with older tires in a parking lot, for a comparison of what they feel like.
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:07 AM
 
8,402 posts, read 22,259,575 times
Reputation: 6800
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaijai View Post
Hi,
Car dummy here.
So i got a flat tire recently and brought my car ('97 Subaru Outback) to the Sears tire department.
They fixed the flat and asked me if i wanted them to check the alignment.
They told me that my rear wheels needed aligning but i passed as i didn't have the funds at the time.
I asked the guy if having wheels that aren't aligned will hurt the car and he said no and that it would just cause the tires to wear improperly / unevenly (or something like that).
I just want to make sure that my car won't be harmed in anyway until i can get the wheels aligned.
Thank you.
Incorrect alignment can cause excessive tire wear, reduced MPG, improper handling, exaggerated pulling under braking, wear on steering components, and other problems. That being said, it's all a matter of degree, literally and figuratively. Your car isn't going to fly apart because of poor alignment, but it will work better all around if the alignment is correct.

The test for cupping as posted above is fine for severe alignment issues, but all the problems I referred to can occur long before a cupped tire becomes obvious.
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:45 AM
 
33,414 posts, read 30,980,411 times
Reputation: 19951
four wheel alignments are common these days because many cars have independent rear suspension rather than a beam axle. unless the alignment is way off, about all that happens is you lose a little fuel economy, and you wear the tires a bit more.
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:43 PM
 
1,636 posts, read 5,583,513 times
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If you have even tire wear and the car is not pulling in either direction when driving on a level surface then chances are your alignment is fine. Just be vigilant of these symptoms/signs. I bet sears recommends an alignment to anybody who passes by. It is good for their business, I bet the service writer gets a commission.
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Old 09-17-2011, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 80,609,989 times
Reputation: 36391
I don't think it makes much sense to go in for an alignment every 30 days, and if you are out of alighment, it will probably be self-diagnostic within a couple of months, if you know how to recognize it.

When you buy new tires from a proper tire shop, have the alignment done then (often included free with purchase and installation), and just be aware of either cupping or steering anomalies.
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:39 PM
 
Location: Summerville, SC
3,382 posts, read 7,871,221 times
Reputation: 1455
Your car is vr,14 years old. I am willing to bet you have other issues worth fixing before an alignment. If you can't feel it pulling or doing anything it is probably fine or w little off, thY its not worth the better tire wear.

Sent from my autocorrect butchering device.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 6,422,210 times
Reputation: 2058
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmaxnc View Post
Incorrect alignment can cause excessive tire wear, reduced MPG, improper handling, exaggerated pulling under braking, wear on steering components, and other problems. That being said, it's all a matter of degree, literally and figuratively. Your car isn't going to fly apart because of poor alignment, but it will work better all around if the alignment is correct.

The test for cupping as posted above is fine for severe alignment issues, but all the problems I referred to can occur long before a cupped tire becomes obvious.
That's what i was wondering ... if the poor alignment causes other issues besides improper tire wear.
Thank you everyone for your knowledge and advice.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:17 AM
 
158 posts, read 859,440 times
Reputation: 73
Actually rear alignment will only cause the uneven wear on tires, and possibly a slight push, depending on the thrust angle, but if it was a very excessive, they should've told u. So the answer to ur question is actually, NO, ur car will be fine, ur tires will just wear out a bit faster than normal so don't worry...but just to let u know, unless they gave u a print out, I'd get a second opinion, a lot of cars' rear isn't adjustable, and some places try to sell 4wheel alignment while only 2 can be aligned in the first place.
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