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DIY alignment vs. shop alignment


600$04Ranger

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Recently replaced driver's side upper control arm (Motorcraft), inner and outer tie rods(Motorcraft inner and Moog outer). Replaced the passenger side upper control arm about 6 months ago, the lower ball joints (both Motorcraft) but not the control arm bushings 3 months ago, and switched the end links and sway bar bushings to the Energy Suspension Polyurethane about a month ago. Driver's side upper control arm ball joint was loose and floppy. Inner tie rods were loose and sloppy. Outer tie rods I was going to reuse but replaced them since they felt rough and on their way to sloppy. Front tires have noticeable cupping on the inside edge but tread is not worn enough overall to call them shot. Driveability varies from "hands off the wheel straight tracking with nothing concerning at speeds up to 80" to "I'm sure something is wrong cause it sounds like the tires are grinding along to an early grave" Looking at the truck from the front the camber is noticeable with top of tire closer to the truck than the bottom of the tire (negative camber?) Toe seems about right but a cursory measurement showed a slight toe out (positive toe?). Haven't parked it on a perfectly level surface though as I don't own a garage, park on a off camber gravel bill at home, and park on a muddy driveway at work. However, there is a new pole barn with a perfect slab on the property which I plan on using to take some more accurate (hopefully) measurements and try and correct any misalignments that could lead to sloppy driving, noisy tires, and/or premature tread wear. Or.......I could just take it to an appointment I made for an alignment this coming Tuesday. Last alignment was only 90 bucks (not that I have enough money to use the word "only") but might not be considered money well spent if I can do it myself reasonably well. I have installed every part I listed and like doing my own work as well as saving the money to blow on gas ("Let's go Brandon!") or anything other than a shop invoice that's majority labor cost. But, I'm not afraid to pay someone to do a job properly that I have neither the tools or experience to realistically succeed at. Definitely had a hard time making sense of this printout I got at my last alignment. Understand toe, camber, caster but not the difference by +/- whatever the degrees as it would affect each aspect of my trucks handling. Hard to have a frame of reference to interpret the printout but I would like to. Love reading about the minutiae though when I can gain a bit of practical knowledge at the same time.
Anyone have a strong opinion either way on home alignment vs shop?
IMG_20211112_173535.jpg
 


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franklin2

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I have a strong opinion to use a shop, one that you like and trust. Tires are expensive and fuel is getting expensive. Both will last longer if you get a good alignment. Make sure you get another printout after you are done, everything should be green on the actual like your report above. You really can't get it dead on like a machine can.

P.S. If your tires have some weird wear on them, you might want to swap the rear ones onto the front before you take it in. Leave the others on the rear and let them wear more evenly back there. You can have weird tire wear that will make it pull to one side or the other.
 

rusty ol ranger

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DIY alingments cannot even compare to a shop. String and a measuring tape are ballpark at best. Plus alignments arnt usually to expensive assuming you can find a shop that doesnt wanna rebuild the whole front end first
 

600$04Ranger

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I have a strong opinion to use a shop, one that you like and trust. Tires are expensive and fuel is getting expensive. Both will last longer if you get a good alignment. Make sure you get another printout after you are done, everything should be green on the actual like your report above. You really can't get it dead on like a machine can.

P.S. If your tires have some weird wear on them, you might want to swap the rear ones onto the front before you take it in. Leave the others on the rear and let them wear more evenly back there. You can have weird tire wear that will make it pull to one side or the other.
Good advice! I was just about to rotate the tires to see what kind of effect that has on noise and handling. I'll keep my alignment appointment too and the peace of mind that it was done right instead of being unsure or actually not getting it right and driving myself nuts.
 

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Do it yourself then take it in. See how well you do....
 

rusty ol ranger

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Do it yourself then take it in. See how well you do....
My buddy who is an uber perfectionist did that on his 02 silverado 2500. The alingment shop literally said if someone alingned this before you should get your money back.
 

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When I put the lift on my 93 (TTB), I followed the instructions in the tech library here. Took ot to a shop and they told me it was well within spec. They did some minor fine tuning. But that was all. I adjust it myself when I feel like something is off. If I do major work, I'll have it checked again.

My F150 is an SLA setup. I haven't figured that one out. So it goes to the shop.
 

19Walt93

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Get it done by a shop, request that everything be set to preferred and request a printout. Alignments are really cheap compared to tires.
 

600$04Ranger

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Do it yourself then take it in. See how well you do....
I'm gonna take it in as is and see what they say. If I don't need any adjustments the charge will be minimaI and I can spend my time on other projects like building a new sleeping platform and insulating my canopy. I rotated the tires today and cleaned a ton of mud from under the truck since I doubt they would even accept it in their shop caked with mud. Been doing irrigation removal from our fields and trucking loads up a wet, rutted, and increasingly muddy path/road that leads to our pole barn. Got it nice and dirty:) My buddy called it a "redneck paint job".
IMG_20211102_124813~2.jpg
 

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600$04Ranger

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Ashland, OR.
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Xlt 4wd 4.0L V6
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4WD
Tire Size
31x10.5
My credo
Mandates are for fascist dictators!
When I put the lift on my 93 (TTB), I followed the instructions in the tech library here. Took ot to a shop and they told me it was well within spec. They did some minor fine tuning. But that was all. I adjust it myself when I feel like something is off. If I do major work, I'll have it checked again.

My F150 is an SLA setup. I haven't figured that one out. So it goes to the shop.
DIY alingments cannot even compare to a shop. String and a measuring tape are ballpark at best. Plus alignments arnt usually to expensive assuming you can find a shop that doesnt wanna rebuild the whole front end first
I was probably using the string wrong or the wrong kind of string but I always got annoyed by the stretch factor. When fractions of an.inch is the difference between in spec and out of spec it's easy to see why the alignment shop is a wise choice.
 

600$04Ranger

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What about using one of these nifty laser levels? I imagine you could park the vehicle on a level surface and aim it at specific points on the tire or wheels and then use those points to find the angles that are necessary to make appropriate adjustments. Probably a step up from string at least?
Screenshot_20211113-184127.png
 

franklin2

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Those need to be mounted true to the wheels, all 4. Then you need a target for them to shine on, and the target needs to be scaled in degrees for the various measurements like centerline, toe and caster. There is a lot of geometry going on in this procedure. You really can only hope to do the toe adjustment with a string.
 

19Walt93

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I'm gonna take it in as is and see what they say. If I don't need any adjustments the charge will be minimaI and I can spend my time on other projects like building a new sleeping platform and insulating my canopy. I rotated the tires today and cleaned a ton of mud from under the truck since I doubt they would even accept it in their shop caked with mud. Been doing irrigation removal from our fields and trucking loads up a wet, rutted, and increasingly muddy path/road that leads to our pole barn. Got it nice and dirty:) My buddy called it a "redneck paint job". View attachment 68226
Thanks for showing enough respect for the tech that you washed off the mud, eating dirt while doing the job doesn't pay extra. We used to have people stop in for a "quick oil change" when they were sent home from work early because of the snow storm. It was too snowy and icy for them to work in their office but not too snowy for them to expect someone to work under their vehicle.
 

rusty ol ranger

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Thanks for showing enough respect for the tech that you washed off the mud, eating dirt while doing the job doesn't pay extra. We used to have people stop in for a "quick oil change" when they were sent home from work early because of the snow storm. It was too snowy and icy for them to work in their office but not too snowy for them to expect someone to work under their vehicle.
Getting dripped on the whole time royally sucks.
 

19Walt93

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If you don't have time to do it right will you have time to do it over?


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