Vehicle Specific Service

Weekly Maintanance Tips

DID YOU KNOW.....

If you are noticing some steering wheel vibration on the highway and any adverse tire wear, your alignment may be chewing up your tires faster than they should be wearing?

Improperly adjusted alignments can significantly shorten the life of those nice new tires you have. So schedule an appointment to have your alignment adjusted to proper specifications.



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Alignment


Lone Star Bavarian Alignment...



How important is wheel alignment?

Think of it this way; research indicates that the average vehicle is driven about 12,000 miles per year. A car with a toe angle misadjustment of 0.34 degrees(only 0.17 inches) out of specification will drag the tires sideways for more than 68 miles by the end of the year!


What are the symptoms of a vehicle with incorrect alignment?

- Excessive or uneven tire wear.
- The vehicle pulls to the left or the right.
- Feeling of looseness or wandering.
- Steering wheel vibration or shimmy.
- Steering wheel is not centered when the vehicle is moving straight ahead.


How often should i have my vehicle aligned?

Follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation noted in your owner's manual. As a general rule, have your wheel alignment checked evey 10,00 miles or at least once a year.


Why should I come to LSB when other shops offer alignment specials for under $100?

I am always amazed and baffled by shops that claim to do a 4 wheel alignment on a BMW for $80 or $90, some even for much less.  You may have received a great alignment, but my question is can they consistantly do them at this price?  I suspect the answer is no.

To do alignments on a modern BMW there is a certain level of alignment equipment needed.  Just the basics, before we get to special tools, specialized scanners and programmers are going to set a shop back a minimum of $35 to $40k.  This means that their alignment machine with accessories and lifts are capable of electronically getting readings across all wheels giving camber, caster and toe at all 4 corners.  This vs what OE specs are under a given vehicle packages(sport, non-sport, air ride, no air ride, M vs Non etc) including vehicle ride height.  Then there are the special tools needed for various models for adjusting camber or toe in the rear and front or up at the strut towers etc.  And bringing up the rear is the ability to properly align steering angle sensors that are on all BMW's after about 1999.  On many of the newer models there are several other sensors and control units that have to be aligned or reset.  For instance on a 2009 550 with Active Steering and Active Suspension, you have to be able to realign sensors in the engine compartment (engine height/level), sensors in the active roll stabilization system, ride height and bringing up the rear the steering angle sensor.  There are no aftermarket scanners that will do this efficiently and quickly for less then $12,000. 

So tallying up the $ just to align BMW's properly you now have a min of $47,000 invested in your equipment.  BMW Special tools for alignment puposes are not expensive compared to what is already on the table, but you can add another $1000 to the total to cover all of the platforms from about 1999 forward. 

Now that we have all of the tools and equipment, it is time for the tech to step up to the vehicle and make it right.  A seasoned tech who knows the BMW line up and has experience is going to spend appx. 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending degree of difficulty, how stubborn some of the nuts and bolts are and how bad the vehicle is off.  Book time on most modern BMW's is in the 2 to 2.5 hour arena.  I am not going to share what I spend annually on just one of my techs, which are seasoned and able to properly align a BMW, but it suffices to say that is more than what I have already estimated. 

Obviously we don't charge anywhere close to $80 for a 4 wheel alignment (not too far off of that number for just setting the toe on early pre 90's BMW's) and couldn't justify having the equipment if we had to.  We wouldn't be able to even make the payments on the equipment at that rate.  Yes, we hear about these rates and shops all of the time and have many over here in Fort Worth that claim to do the same.  But trust me when I say they aren't doing proper BMW alignments, not consistantly.  In fact the whole reason we ponied up the money for our equipment was because we couldn't get alignments done properly on a consistant basis at any price, and this includes the dealer that charges more. 

In the end, more power to anyone who can get a proper alignment done for $80, but beware that you may not always be getting what you think you have paid for.

We have had vehicles "aligned" before we had our equipment, that in the end showed that there was no way they were properly aligned.  One in particular was the icing on the cake.  When we drove the client's vehicle after the "alignment" it drove straight.   Without a machine, how else would you know.  It had brand new tires.  Two months later and 3000 miles, the rear tires were slicks with reinforcement wire starting to show on the drive wheel.  Fortunately we had just received our alignment system and it was ready to go.  Up onto the machine this car went......... we had so been had.  Toe was good, remember I said it drove straight, but camber and caster were both way out in the front and rear.  And toe on the rear... well both wheels toed in, which along with the accentuated camber and caster... the tires didn't have a chance.  This vehicle needed a whole strut assembly on one side up front, two control arms in the rear and wheel carrier  on one side to straighten it out.  How do you miss that on an alignment machine?  There had been no mention of any of these issues.  What it came down to was we paid $95 for this particular group to set the toe.  And this group will align anything! 


This is why I caution all of you on discounted alignments.  Remember, in this business you get what you pay for and sometimes a lot less. 


 


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