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Hello,

 

How do most shops charge for wheel alignments? (vehicle size, work involved, toe adjustment only?) Sometimes adjusting the camber and caster involve extra labor and parts to be replaced. How would you approach a customer?

 

Would you recommend doing a diagnostic first prior to a wheel alignment? Since a shaking steering wheel does not necessarily mean you have a problem with your alignment, more than likely a suspension component is worn out or needs to be replaced. How would you go about doing so?

We have had quite a few customers insisting on a wheel alignment, when in fact it will not fix the problem they are experiencing. They come back complaining and insisting on a full refund.

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

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First, when a customer asks for a wheel alignment, we question the customer to find out EXACTLY what the customer is experiencing. Many times the customer has a wheel shimmy at high speed and thinks the alignment is needed.

 

Don't let the customer dictate your work or sway your judgment, you are the DOCTOR, not them!

 

We inspect every car prior to the alignment along with a road test. That standard procedure.

 

We have different menu prices for: Passenger cars, Large SUVs, Light Truck/Large Vans and Luxury models. Every car gets all 4 points checked and the customer gets a print out. The price is the same, even if only the toe was adjusted. It's a menu based price.

 

If any parts or additional labor is needed, that's extra. For example, on Ford trucks replacing the camber shim on the spindle. Or, drilling out the weld spots on a Ford Windstar and Taurus, etc.

 

I hope this helps.

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Thanks for the insight.

 

If after road testing prior to the alignment, you believe the alignment will not help or solve the problem they are experiencing would you charge for a diagnostic? What would you do in that position?

 

Thanks.

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Thanks for the insight.

 

If after road testing prior to the alignment, you believe the alignment will not help or solve the problem they are experiencing would you charge for a diagnostic? What would you do in that position?

 

Thanks.

 

 

That's a great question. My best answer is, "It depends". Let's say our road tests reveals a steering wheel shimmy at 55 to 60mph. We would inform the customer that this is a wheel balance issue, not an alignment problem. We would then insist on checking wheel balance and charge for that according. NOW with that said, I may offer an alignment check, at no charge. Just to see if the alignment is within spec. From my experience, 6 out of 10 cars need an alignment anyway.

 

People usually ask for an alignment if they feel a pull to one side or wheel shimmy. If the wheel shimmy is at low speeds, under 25mph, we would discuss with the customer that this is an indication of a bent wheel or out-of-round tire. Again, we would like to check the alignment. Especially because if the car has a bent wheel. The alignment may have been affected anyway.

 

Last point, you should always perform an inspection prior to any work with regard to an alignment, steering, suspension or wheel balance problem.

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