'89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff? - Second Generation Forum

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'89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Monday, January 11, 2016 8:02 AM
I put new tires on an '89 Cavalier and put the car in for inspection at what I thought was an honest shop. While I was there, I told them to do a wheel alignment. I put on new Moog tie rod ends before I took the car over.

I got the car back, and they gave me an alignment report. I didn't think to check it (I trusted them), but looked at it when I got time the following weekend, and I realized that the left side camber was out of whack (-0.7 degrees, when the desired setting is +0.8, and anything more negative than +0.1 is out of spec).

After a couple of calls to the shop and an online complaint to corporate customer service, where I was treated rudely, given excuses, and/or blown off, I finally called corporate customer service and then they acted on my online complaint. They responded, said that they talked to the tech, and he said that in order to adjust the camber on the car, they would have to install "camber kits" at $50 + labor. (They could not answer why I wasn't told this at the shop, before the "alignment", or why they released the unaligned car to me without a mention of the bad camber).

Is it me, or is this nonsense? I am well aware of poor alignment jobs ("toe and go") and scams, but this place has never given me a problem before, the tech that did the job has been there a long time and I think he is a master tech.. The struts on the car are aftermarket, and they do have enlarged bottom bolt holes (see the attachment pic of the strut with the bad camber). I assume by "camber kit", that they mean "camber bolt" on this car, and my understanding is that those are not needed (or advised) for standard applications.

Thanks!
Attachments
Strut Bolts.jpg (224k)


Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Monday, January 11, 2016 9:14 PM
I do have to say that strut mount hardware is pretty rough!Even though you did tie rods which are important I am betting your A arm bushing are worn out.If these are toast in any degree trying to adjust the alignment is useless if anything is well worn out.I did a quick check on my 85 and my strut bolts are clean and NO rust and can see the head of the bolts and nuts with no problem.I checked auto zone for some quick looks,did verify the lower control arm as Availible for $108.00 each side with the new bushings in place!In short the control arm bushings handle the alignment along with a good working strut,ball joints,tierods.I would check your control arm bushings if toast,just replace the whole arm over doing just the bushings in my opinion.Honestly you have a 27 year old car,stuff wears out,and while you did some items the control arm does too and if those seals are worn out no alignment will ever correct that.Not to mention the stabilizer links.Please buy some New hardware for those front struts as it looks horrid seriously.And yes auto zone sells new hardware too for the strut to hub arm.Tired I am and soley trying to help and not be rude or anything just sharing the information.If I am incorrect or left something off may others add or correct my post.I am not perfect.



Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 9:16 AM
Ron Love wrote:

I do have to say that strut mount hardware is pretty rough!...

There is nothing wrong with the strut or the bolts. I had both nuts off over the past weekend, and they were not seized or damaged in any way. They are certainly reusable.

The shop did not say that there was a problem with the hardware being damaged. They said that camber kits needed to be installed in order to adjust the camber.

Ron Love wrote:

I did a quick check on my 85 and my strut bolts are clean and NO rust and can see the head of the bolts and nuts with no problem.....Please buy some New hardware for those front struts as it looks horrid seriously

I am in the Philadelphia area, you are in NC. The surface rust you are seeing is normal, and looks much worse than it is because of the close-up. The point of the picture was to show the enlarged bottom bolt hole.

Ron Love wrote:

Even though you did tie rods which are important I am betting your A arm bushing are worn out.If these are toast in any degree trying to adjust the alignment is useless if anything is well worn out.I did a quick check on my 85 and my strut bolts are clean and NO rust and can see the head of the bolts and nuts with no problem.I checked auto zone for some quick looks,did verify the lower control arm as Availible for $108.00 each side with the new bushings in place!In short the control arm bushings handle the alignment along with a good working strut,ball joints,tierods.I would check your control arm bushings if toast,just replace the whole arm over doing just the bushings in my opinion.Honestly you have a 27 year old car,stuff wears out,and while you did some items the control arm does too and if those seals are worn out no alignment will ever correct that.Not to mention the stabilizer links.

The car only has 88k, and probably has only 15k-20k in the past 10-12 years. It has been maintained. There is nothing wrong with the suspension or steering components. I replaced the tie rod ends, but only because one of the boots went when I lubed it, and I was able to get new Moog replacements very cheap off of RockAuto. The tie rods taken off were the originals, and were still tight. Furthermore, the shop never claimed that any components needed to be replaced (they couldn't), and it was their job to check, as part of the state inspection AND as part of a wheel alignment job.

Ron Love wrote:

Please buy some New hardware for those front struts as it looks horrid seriously.And yes auto zone sells new hardware too for the strut to hub arm.Tired I am and soley trying to help and not be rude or anything just sharing the information.If I am incorrect or left something off may others add or correct my post.I am not perfect.

Ron, I appreciate your response, but it is off track. Whether my strut mounting hardware is new, old or otherwise, the shop is claiming that "camber kits" are needed to adjust camber on this car. It sounds like nonsense, I was wondering if I was missing something. Thanks.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 9:35 AM
baron5867 wrote:

I realized that the left side camber was out of whack (-0.7 degrees, when the desired setting is +0.8, and anything more negative than +0.1 is out of spec).

I meant to ask.... how bad is this camber, in terms of effect on tire/component wear, mpg, etc.?

Also, forgot to mention.. they quoted $89.99 for the alignment, but then added a $8.99 shop fee to a bill. I understand that some places add shop fees on some jobs, but I have never heard of it being added to a standard service such as a wheel alignment.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:07 AM
I have run into it before where more adjustment is needed than you can get out of the strut. In your case I have seen struts with the hole with more elongation to it. The choice is to either file out the hole, or use an offset bolt, that allows more adjustment.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:44 AM
FrankD wrote:

I have run into it before where more adjustment is needed than you can get out of the strut. In your case I have seen struts with the hole with more elongation to it. The choice is to either file out the hole, or use an offset bolt, that allows more adjustment.


I have installed struts where that bolt hole is more elongated, but they weren't j-bodies. I don't know if that makes a difference, hence my asking here.

Looking at the bolt, it appears that the camber is set near its negative limit, which (ta-da!) may be why it is out of spec to the negative side.

The camber on the right side of the car was almost spot on (+0.7) using an identical strut, so there shouldn't be an issue unless the left side of the car is messed up, which it isn't.

The shop never attempted to adjust the camber. They never looked at it, never touched it, never mentioned it. It isn't as if they tried and couldn't bring it into spec, and then said they needed to take other steps. When I called the shop (twice) and talked to the clowns at the service desk, they tried to tell me that the camber wasn't adjustable. One guy even said that the tech might not have the spec... besides the obvious idiocy of that statement, the spec (acceptable range) was listed right on the alignment report.


Thanks!
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 2:30 PM
You're correct, you don't need the cam bolts to adjust the camber.

Print this and take it to them. It is the instructions from the GM 1988 Cavalier Service Manual. Should be exactly the same for the 1989 year.
The specs they say they don't have are in Figure 4 on the bottom right side.
Attachments
Alignment.jpg (1291k)

Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:16 PM
butch nackley wrote:

You're correct, you don't need the cam bolts to adjust the camber.

To be clear, they said "camber kits", which I assume to mean camber bolts on this car.

BTW, my understanding is that the camber bolts are structurally weaker than the OEM bolts they are replacing, and should not be used unless there is a reason. They are a quick fix or "Help!" type product.

butch nackley wrote:

Print this and take it to them. It is the instructions from the GM 1988 Cavalier Service Manual. Should be exactly the same for the 1989 year.

Thanks for posting, interesting, but believe it or not, the specs are different. The specs I mention above from ALLDATA are for 89-90, and are slightly different from your attachment.

Having had a 1988 and a 1989, I can tell you that there are occasionally differences between the two years..

butch nackley wrote:

The specs they say they don't have are in Figure 4 on the bottom right side.

Thanks again, but there is no need. I have the specs. They have the specs. They know that the camber is adjustable, and they know how to do it. They were lazy and just did a quick "toe and go", blew off the bad camber, and sent me on my way. When I called them out on it, they tried to con me and jerk me around. When I didn't fall for it and got their corporate people on it, they came up with the story about the camber kits being needed. I have since questioned the corporate people on why it is only now that they are saying that camber kits are needed. They did not answer that and have come back with an offer of a refund.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 7:36 PM
Seeing that rust, all I can say is AAAACCCCKKK !
But I live in the PNW where we don't SALT the roads.
Is that some auto union thing they got passed into law to sell more cars?
Just asking.

2001 Z24 purchased used a year ago with 129k miles, multiple owners and with NO RUST.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 9:31 PM
That's fine I was trying some ideas and yes I was pretty tired thinking on the subject.I guess franks suggestion could help.



Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 12:25 AM
Steve B. wrote:

Seeing that rust, all I can say is AAAACCCCKKK !

It is just surface rust, which is to be expected on an untreated/uncoated surface like a bolt and nut. You can see that the strut clevis is still more or less painted, and that strut is at least 10 years old.

Steve B. wrote:

But I live in the PNW where we don't SALT the roads.

They also use road brine, which can be even worse.

Philadelphia isn't Phoenix, but it isn't that bad. If you want to cry, move to the Great Lakes (Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, etc.) I've heard people complain that aftermarket pipes and mufflers can last 1-2 years.

Steve B. wrote:

2001 Z24 purchased used a year ago with 129k miles, multiple owners and with NO RUST.

A 2001 is little more than half as old as a 1989.

Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 11:13 AM
Most of the time you don't need camber bolts to adjust the camber, but sometimes you do, and they are no weaker than the original bolt. The Moog ones for this application (K928) do retail for about $37. each, and they are only used to replace the lower bolt. Right now my 89 Vl coupe has the right side caster out and that has no adjustment, but I know what the cause is.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 1:03 PM
FrankD wrote:

Most of the time you don't need camber bolts to adjust the camber, but sometimes you do, and they are no weaker than the original bolt.

Maybe, maybe not, but it might not matter as long as it is "strong enough". I would not put them on unless I had a reason to.

FrankD wrote:

The Moog ones for this application (K928) do retail for about $37.

$17.79 each at Moog's site, I can get a pair from Rockauto for $26, shipped.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Saturday, April 23, 2016 4:56 AM
baron5867 wrote:

I put new tires on an '89 Cavalier and put the car in for inspection at what I thought was an honest shop. While I was there, I told them to do a wheel alignment. I put on new Moog tie rod ends before I took the car over.

Is it me, or is this nonsense? I am well aware of poor alignment jobs ("toe and go") and scams, but this place has never given me a problem before, the tech that did the job has been there a long time and I think he is a master tech..


Update: almost a month ago, I decided to take this to another shop after letting the car sit over the winter. I specifically pointed out that the left front camber is out of whack and left the car. The mechanic got back to me later in the day... he (correctly) said that the right camber is fine as is, and that the left front camber is off. But he said that the left strut-knuckle bolts are rusted in place. He said that he tried to get them out, but they are a problem and that he will need an hour's labor to get them out. Furthermore, he said that the hardware will probably be trashed and will have to be replaced. I didn't want to pay the additional labor, and I am not sure how the hardware replacement would go (price, availability). I told him to just put the car down and I would be by to pay him what I owe him. When I arrived, he said I didn't owe him anything until I brought the car back after I had dealt with it.

I got time earlier this week to play with this. I pressed out the strut-knuckle bolts on both sides and removed the struts. I cleaned up the bottom part of the struts (clevis). I think the bolts are salvageable, but I have new nuts on the way.

Meanwhile, I have questions about the toe setting.

Attached is a picture of the left tie rod end as I got it back from the first garage after their "alignment". Note that the tie rod end had been installed at an angle (not vertical). Is this an acceptable way to set toe?

I also have attached a picture of a top view of the two tie rods on the different sides. Shouldn't the distance between the inner and outer tie rods on each side be equal, with the tie rod adjusting nut approximately in the middle?

Thanks!
Attachments
Tie Rod End 02.jpg (108k)
Tie Rod End 01.jpg (56k)

Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Wednesday, May 04, 2016 5:03 PM
Mine are straighter than yours. I've seen ends angled like that, but I would rather them be held straight when torquing the bolts. The get turned at an angle when the sleeve is turned. A good tech will straighten them when they tighten the bolts.
I have to asked, did your car ever have any front end damage?
I noticed there is quite a difference in the adjusting sleeves. I'm nearly certain all of mine are pretty even side to side.
Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Thursday, May 05, 2016 12:47 AM
butch nackley wrote:

Mine are straighter than yours. I've seen ends angled like that, but I would rather them be held straight when torquing the bolts. The get turned at an angle when the sleeve is turned. A good tech will straighten them when they tighten the bolts.

So, at best, it is sloppiness. My concern is that the bonehead zeroed out the toe by rotating the outer tie rod end, not the tie rod itself.

butch nackley wrote:

have to asked, did your car ever have any front end damage?

No.

butch nackley wrote:

I noticed there is quite a difference in the adjusting sleeves. I'm nearly certain all of mine are pretty even side to side.

My understanding is that they are supposed to be roughly even.

Attached is the right outer tie end as I got it back from them, after I had pulled it loose from the strut. When I put the car in, that outer tie rod was freshly (and properly) installed by me, and greased until the boot was firm. When I got it back from them and disconnected it from the strut, the boot just simply fell off, and there was no grease. I am trying to think what/why the heck this is.

I just received new strut knuckle bolts, so hopefully I get time to take a whack at this soon.
Attachments
RouterTRend.jpg (74k)

Re: '89 Non-Z24 Cavalier Alignment - Ripoff?
Wednesday, June 01, 2016 5:16 AM
New issue, and I am not sure if it is a problem: The upper strut bolt hole on the left knuckle is apparently worn, and the serrated strut bolt will turn in the knuckle when the nut is being tightened, instead of staying still. It is NOT a worn bolt. Are those strut bolts supposed to "lock" in the knuckle bore just to make camber adjustment easier? Or is the strut stability (or ability to hold camber) affected by the fact that that bolt doesn't "seize" into the knuckle bore?

butch nackley wrote:

I noticed there is quite a difference in the adjusting sleeves. I'm nearly certain all of mine are pretty even side to side.

Update... upon messing with the adjusting sleeves, I realized that the threads on the inner tie rods were dirty/corroded beyond where those adjusting sleeves had been installed. IN other words, the adjusting sleeve can't be turned into the inner tie rod any more than they already were in the picture above. So, it appears that the technician who had recently performed the "wheel alignment" never touched them, which means that my suspicion above was likely valid... the technician simply set toe by disconnecting the brand new outer tie rod ends from the struts, rotating them to set toe, and reinstalling them into the struts..

But if the technician didn't touch those adjusting sleeves, why are they they so "unbalanced" between the two sides? That was probably due to the last clown to do a wheel alignment on the car.
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