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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
See post from 3/2 for updated issue
I'm in the Raleigh - Durham NC area. For the most part, roads are okay but there are a few gnarly spots that I now know to avoid on my daily commute.
Twice now I've hit a pot hole that was definitely jarring but not the "oh god something just broke" kind of bumps where you know you're in trouble. 1st was around 15k miles, car was pulling a little bit, dealership confirmed that I needed an alignment. 2nd, similar kind of medium intensity pothole but it was immediately clear the car was pulling to the left and had a lot of play in steering over minor bumps. Sure enough, took it in (Now at 35K miles) and needed an alignment. (Back wheels pigeon toeing)

My question is this: How often are people needing alignments on this car? These bumps don't seem like the kind of jarring "oh god what did I just hit" bumps that should totally wreck an alignment on this car. My previous Mazda 3 that was very low to the ground with a similar tire profile never had alignment issues over similar road conditions.

And before anyone asks, no, I'm not jumping curbs; just general city driving on sometimes poorly maintained roads.
 

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20,000 miles on a '16 ST and I haven't needed one yet. If I lived where I used to live I would have probably needed one by now, because the streets were horrible.
 

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I run my car harder than most, and put a lot of miles on it. I usually have it checked once a year, which is about 35k miles of driving. Any suspension modification or adjustment, you should have it realigned. If you feel like it's pulling in one direction or something is funky, get it checked. Or if your tires have uneven wear. But other than that, I'd stick with 50k intervals.
 

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I've changed lots of different suspension things over the last couple years and tried to get them more often. The firestone's near me had lifetime alignment, which cost the same as like two singles. However, they are now on my dislike list as they updated their equipment to use wheel sensors that mount to the tires vs the rim. So my lowered car and wheel/tire combo is too low and too close to my fenders to use their equipment.

Generally unless you are changing key suspension parts , your alignment shouldnt change too much. Just keep an eye on your tire wear and rotate your tires regularly
 

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Not yet, but I did get it checked somewhere probably around 60k due to strange tire wear with a set of Continentals. Turned out to be fine and the several sets of tires since have worn normally. I'm in New England, 140k. My 2012 SE had just over 200k and never needed one. Only times I've ever had any car aligned was for steering part replacements that made it necessary. Even when I hit a set of uncovered railroad tracks at about 50 mph in a Subaru GL and bent the trailing rod from the control arm, it was still in spec once the rod was bent back and reinstalled. I know a lot of people who drive with far less rigor and for less miles than I do who have needed alignments from potholes. Not sure what I'm doing differently, though I think not having my foot on the brake upon impact might be a help distribute the force of the blow better. Don't know what else it could be.
 

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I've done mine each time I put on new tires and it wasn't very far out either time. Tires wearing evenly across minus some minor inner feathering which I chalk up to a characteristic of low profile tires. So roughly every 35k miles.
 

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My ST's alignment is holding up pretty good as evidenced by the even wears of all 4 tires @37k miles. Now the rear driver side alignment was off by 1/32 @ 20k miles and making noises that I thought the rear wheel bearing was bad. So if you see any uneven tire wears then have it check.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey guys, update on this situation:

Got an alignment a couple days after the first post; first day, car felt great and tight as a drum. Over the next couple of days though, I started to perceive a 'loosening' of everything. Thought I was maybe being a little OCD about things but by day 7 post-alignment, the excessive play in the wheel was definitely back. Going over a slightly bumpy road and the wheel steering weight was inconsistent and tons of excessive kickback from small bumps.

Just to confirm my suspicions, I had a buddy with a much higher mileage ST drive mine and he noted the same things I had:
  1. Inconsistent steering weight. Occasionally steering will go much lighter, mid-turn this is a big issue.
  2. Inconsistent play in steering wheel: Sometimes tight as a drum, stop at a light a mile up the road and now there's 2 inches of wiggle room on either side when the car is stopped. Drive a little more, back to tight as a drum.
  3. Excessive kickback: little bumps and uneven road surfaces move the wheel a lot.
  4. Steering not pulling; prior to alignment the car was definitely pulling to the left. Not happening anymore.
Combine these issues and you have little to no road feeling and the car just feels off. (If not dangerous.)

Anyone have ideas as to what's going on here? Power steering issue? Tie rods? Looseness in linkage or worn parts? Something as simple as tire pressure? (no warning lights on, checking pressure after work today.)

Thanks for any thoughts.
 

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Maybe something to do with the rack.

 

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Sounds like a bad tie rod or ball joint.

My understanding is the only thing that can be aligned in stock configuration is toe. You can check that with a tape measurer and a constant point to measure from.
 

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What shop is doing the alignment? Is it the same shop? Maybe they are not locking down the nut? It does sound like a tie rod issue though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ford dealership did the original alignment. Taking it back to them Tuesday and they're going to take a look/test drive
 

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While it sounds like a tie rod issue, if they did an alignment without checking the balljoints and tie rods, they should be flipping burgers instead of working on cars. Assuming they're at least semi competent and all there's good, I would think it's the rack or something with the electric assist motor.
 

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While it sounds like a tie rod issue, if they did an alignment without checking the balljoints and tie rods, they should be flipping burgers instead of working on cars. Assuming they're at least semi competent and all there's good, I would think it's the rack or something with the electric assist motor.
Agreed. The reality is even dealerships have monkeys doing work. I took my truck in to a local shop and asked them to throw it on the rack and confirm what I thought was wrong with the front end of the truck. When I get back they just tell me it "couldn't be aligned" so I asked for the print out and why it couldn't be aligned. They had neither. Because of the convenient location I took a tire on my FoST in to be plugged until I could get new tires. I wanted a professional tire off plug, not my side of the road plug. They did fix the tire adequately but damaged the rim taking the tire off. :mad:

I'll never use them again.
 

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I have 107k and i have not had odd wear or anything. No alignments. Im on my third set of tires currently. I plan on getting an alignment once I refresh my suspension parts though.
 

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123,000, no alignment, no abnormal tire wear; OEM Goodyears went 45,000 and Eagle FI AS are about done. I will get on it, have done the Dragon 5 times; I go out of my way to avoid potholes and debris.
 
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