How often should a Prius need an alignment?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by ForestBeekeeper, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. ForestBeekeeper

    ForestBeekeeper Active Member

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    Last week, I went in for the 40,000 mile oil change, and they noticed an 'oil leak'. They wanted to pull the oil pan and re-caulk it. An all day procedure, which we scheduled for a week later.
    The oil level had not actually dropped, so I perceive this to be a cosmetic 'problem' only and not a crisis. Today I dropped it off for them to fix it.

    Our Toyota dealer has installed a wheel alignment detector in the carport area where customers drop-off vehicles. Every vehicle gets screened for alignment issues, every time they go in for servicing.

    At my 20,000 servicing, they said that it needed a front-end alignment. I approved them to do it. Without asking how long it would take. As it turned out the front-end alignment took them 5 1/2 hours. I got a little hot, as I was only expecting to be there for an hour.

    Now at 40,000 miles, when I dropped it off today [for the oil pan], the Service Manager told me that it needs another front-end alignment.

    Is it within the norm, for a Prius to require an alignment every 20,000 miles?

    I have owned previous vehicles, that were prone to needing regular alignments. It has been my experience that once a vehicle starts going out of alignment, it is then going to have this as a regular need.

    Have other Prius owners seen this?

    Thank you.
     
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  2. DAFTEK

    DAFTEK Junior Member

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    I did it when i replaced the tires at 40k.
     
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  3. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    "I have owned previous vehicles, that were prone to needing regular alignments. It has been my experience that once a vehicle starts going out of alignment, it is then going to have this as a regular need."

    Checking your alignment is what some of us call Preventative Maintenance. If it is indeed out, why would you not correct it? There are several reasons for the alignment to "go out". Road conditions, driving style, ect., but not because "once it goes out". If you are uncomfortable with the Dealership trying to pay for their new equipment, take your "unrequested readout" and have it checked elsewhere to verify. Then you know for sure. ;)
     
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  4. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    What adjustments did they actually perform? I suspect all they adjust is the front toe.
     
  5. ForestBeekeeper

    ForestBeekeeper Active Member

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    I understand the need for Preventative Maintenance. If the alignment is 'out' then I agree that it needs to be re-aligned.

    Our roads here are pretty bad with frost-heaves every year.

    I guess I am just concerned over needing an alignment every 20,000 miles.



    Thank you. :)



    Is it possible that the criteria they are using for telling me another alignment is needed, might be too tight?

    If it is out at all, does that immediately mean I will see increased tire wear? Or can it go out further before tire wear become increased?

    To my feel, the vehicle hugs the road. We are very pleased with handling. On flat-level pavement it can go a 1/2 mile in a straight line without touching the steering wheel. It hugs curves very well. :)
     
  6. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    If it's out of spec, what was it?
     
  7. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    "If you are uncomfortable with the Dealership trying to pay for their new equipment, take your "unrequested readout" and have it checked elsewhere to verify."

    I gave you the benefit of the doubt that I would also question the recommendation based on how you described your Dealer. However, the manufacture sets +/- limits. Anything out of limit is just that, then the need for adjustment is to prevent additional wear.
     
  8. Indy John

    Indy John Member

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    Your comment ("the dealer instlalled a wheel alignment detector in the carport area..") brought back vivid memories of what a service shop owner told me years ago - "I paid a lot of money for that alignment dector, but the salesman admitted that it isn't accurate at all - it's just a sales tool to sell alignments." The only way to know if your care requires an alignment (is out-of-spec enough to cause tire wear and/or handling issues) is to put it on the computerized alignment rack and compare the "before" print-out to the manufacturer's specifications.
     
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  9. css28

    css28 Senior Member

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    Decline the dealer alignment and visit a tire store for a second opinion.
     
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  10. Maroon

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    Sounds to me like this dealer is drumming up fake problems to lighten your wallet. If your tires are wearing normally and your car isn't pulling to one side, you don't need an alignment.
     
  11. TwoUnderPar

    TwoUnderPar Member

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    Exactly! If caster, camber or toe are off......... you will see it in uneven tire wear and/or detect it while driving.
     
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  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sand Pounder

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    +1. Short of adding shim kits, I've heard that's all that can be adjusted.

    And per all the other responders, alignment seems to be their cash cow.
     
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  13. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    Well you would want to catch it before there's abnormal wear. Tires are costly. Also the whole point of the inspection and preventative part of this.
     
  14. Maroon

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    I agree. But unless OP is driving on the moon (are Maine roads this bad?), he shouldn't need an alignment every 20k.
     
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  15. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    I believe the only alignment can be adjusted on the Prius is front Camber and Toe and just rear toe. I don't believe you can adjust caster.

    As for the alignment issue, if you are concern that the vehicle needs to do an alignment every 20k, I would take it to firestone. They charge about 100$-170$ for lifetime alignment of the vehicle. That's a better deal than the dealership, and also check your specs, ask them to print out an alignment specs for you to check the before and after alignment and see what they have adjusted.
     
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  16. TwoUnderPar

    TwoUnderPar Member

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    I generally agree, but the OP said they did it once and it took 5.5 hours. If that is true, then 5.5 X $100/hr (guestimated shop rate), then that equals $550.00. That buys a lot of tires and if you look at the tires when checking air pressure, then the start of uneven wear would be noticed.

    I've never aligned a Prius, but based on the numerous cars that I have, I would be surprised if caster could not be adjusted on the turning wheels........... but would have to research that and I don't have intimate Prius knowledge on that particular issue.
     
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  17. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    I suspect 5.5 hours was the wait time not actual labor time.

    Other things to consider is what if customer ran into curb? but that would have damage. We all agree, normal conditions alignment isn't needed. If something is worn, the worn item should addressed then aligned.
     
  18. css28

    css28 Senior Member

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    Caster is often adjustable on one side only (front passenger side on Ford trucks) because the important thing is that the caster is equal on both sides.
     
  19. NutzAboutBolts

    NutzAboutBolts Senior Member

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    For the Prius, only camber and toe can be adjusted in the front. You can use a camber kit to adjust the camber. I don't believe you can adjust the caster.
     
  20. css28

    css28 Senior Member

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    First, many roads in Maine are pretty bad.

    Looking at the service manual, they specify the acceptable range of caster angles (and allowable side-to-side difference) but don't offer an adjustment method.

    The standard hours for the jobs are as follows:
    Toe-in: 0.6 hrs.
    Front wheel alignment: 2.0 hrs
    Rear wheel alignment: 1.2 hrs
    Four wheel alignment: 2.8 hrs

    Pretty scary!
     
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