Vehicle Alignments: No More Toe and Go

Alignments: No More Toe and Go

With systems like lane departure and automatic cruise control, the post-alignment test drive takes on a whole new meaning.

New vehicle features mean that performing a quick toe adjustment could cause more problems.

You have probably seen the results of a “toe and go” alignment, a service that ignores camber, caster and diagnostic angles like SAI and included angle.

The result might be a straight steering wheel, but the driver knows something is not right because it does not feel right going around turns. On some vehicles, you might be able to get away with a “toe and go” alignment. But with stability control and advanced safety features, the sensors might catch your shortcut.

Scanner for the Chassis

Should a shop charge more for ADAS alignments? Yes. Your alignment bay should be treated as a colossal scan tool that can pull the angles from the vehicle so they can be used for diagnostics of the chassis and suspension. Adjustments performed like camber and toe are just like calibrating a sensor, but the process is, of course, completely mechanical.

The other factor changing the alignment process today is the growing population of vehicles with stability control systems. Some of these require extra steps after the angles are adjusted to calibrate the steering angle sensor.

The Basics

No matter how advanced the ADAS or autonomous driving system can be, the pre-alignment inspection with a tire pressure gauge, tape measure and your eyeballs becomes even more important.

Always check tire inflation pressures because a low tire will pull. It’s also important to note tire sizes. A car will pull toward the side with the smallest tires or the side with wider tires. A wide tire offers higher rolling resistance than a narrower tire. Wide tires also tend to be more sensitive to road crown steer than narrower ones.

Measuring ride height becomes even more critical with more advanced vehicles. With changes in the ride height for vehicles with cameras and radar sensors, ride height is even more critical. If the ride height changes, so does the angle of the camera in relation to the road.

Inspecting the entire suspension is critical because sometimes the alignment angle sitting on the alignment rack is just a static snapshot. If bushings are worn out, the alignment angles can change.

When angles change and the vehicle starts to pull, some electric power steering systems will attempt to add assist. It does this to compensate for normal pulls like road crown.

Test Drive

With systems like lane departure and automatic cruise control that can steer the vehicle, the post-alignment test drive takes on a whole new meaning. Many systems, like lane departure, do not activate until a specific speed is reached and the road markings are present. It is critical to look at the service information to find procedures and the activation criteria. If you fail to complete this step, the customer might be back complaining that you broke their vehicle.

Andrew Markel is an ASE-certified technician and former service writer, and he brings this practical knowledge to the Babcox Media team as director of content.

You May Also Like Is Here

Launched by the OE Roundtable, educates consumers on technical information, various types of parts, repair rights and more.

At the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) last month, a brief announcement was made that the OE Roundtable launched a site called It was so brief, in fact, that some attendees may have missed it if they were outside the room grabbing more coffee or answering a phone call. Brief, but significant.

Life in the Fast Lane

The collision center at Gullo Ford discovered that creating a “fast lane” for minor collision repairs was the key to improving its cycle time.

Mechanical Repairs May Help Fix Your Bottom Line

Detailed mechanical information can eliminate the need for body shops to outsource certain jobs, increasing their profits and giving them more control over their repair schedules.

Does Your Body Shop Need a Scan Tool?

Collision repair facilities that purchase their own scan tools and receive the proper training to repair today’s advanced electronics systems in-house have the opportunity to reduce cycle time and costs.

Alignment Tips for 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5

If you were to look at the underside of a 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalt or Pontiac G5, the recipe doesn’t look that much different than a 1995-2004 Chevrolet Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire. The basic ingredients of a strut front suspension and loaded beam axle rear suspension are still there. But GM introduced several new ingredients that

Other Posts

I-CAR Talks Scanning/Calibration Training

Jason Stahl talks to I-CAR’s Scott Kaboos and Jeff Poole about their scanning and calibration training courses.

Mazda Blind Spot Monitoring System Calibration

Joe Keene, automotive content video producer at Babcox Media, discusses how to calibrate the blind spot monitoring system on a 2020 Mazda 6 Grand Touring.

Lexus and Toyota Camera Calibration

Joe Keene, automotive content video producer at Babcox Media, discusses how to calibrate the camera on a 2021 Lexus UX where the camera was removed and reinstalled.

Car ADAS Aims for Precise Calibration

Jason Stahl talks to Car ADAS CEO Greg Peeters about his mission to bring a safer and more efficient calibration process to the collision repair industry.