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Alignment knocked out of whack...

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by wiztecy, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #1 wiztecy, Sep 21, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    Alignment knocked out of whack... Great! Now have an Awesome Adjustable Suspension

    So I've been waiting for the day for my alignment to get knocked out of whack and it happened yesterday.... I've hit imperfections on bridges, pot holes and such but this pot hole yesterday really did it... odd thing was that it wasn't an unusual hard hit... and the pot hole was on the right but threw the steering wheel favored to the left. I'm figuring that the back right rear wheel got shifted somehow... My Roadster has had its pack swapped out by Tesla recently so I don't know if something shifted when they dropped the rear suspension and had some slack in it...

    Was one of those days... people driving like zombies on hwy 17, putting cars in very dangerous locks between cars... got a space to pass and a jump to safety and bump bump.... you just know alignment specs got whammied after that...

    Anyways... going to need to take it in. I'm thinking to drop it off to the alignment shop across from the Menlo Park store since they're familiar and most likely set up all the Roadster's alignment from the get-go.

    Any other shops that are good with aligning the roadsters in the south bay? I don't trust a regular tire shop... even though they say they have the specs.
     
  2. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The problem is not the specs, the problem is the date of their equipment's last calibration. A further problem is the knowledge of alignment (rather than knowledge of button pressing).
     
  3. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    I see... also I think another part of it is the test drive... though I could be wrong. Had my truck aligned recently, steering wheel was off... took it back and they said their insurance only allows them to drive 2 blocks. Pretty shabby. Shouldn't the machine be able to align everything correctly off the machine? Its all fixed angles. So I took my truck back, they had to re-align it 3 more times to get the steering wheel aligned properly. Lame.

    Also what's the latest with alignment / technology and what should we all be looking for when we go for an alignment. At $80 a pop I think we should get our moneys worth... I remember when alignments were $35.

    I vote we should push for alignments to be tax deductible.... Its the poor maintenance of roads that passes on the buck to us.
     
  4. bhuwan

    bhuwan Active Member

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    Is the MS suseptible to alignment issues? My car has it at 8000 miles. Cousins has an alignment issue at 800.
     
  5. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Often the second most junior person is the one doing the alignments (most junior mounts tires).

    Well, I actually look for a place that does it with toe bars and levels. The reason is that there is no calibration required, and the person using them has to understand alignment basics. Another good choice is a frame shop (with a good reputation) because they have to measure everything and so their equipment is likely to be better calibrated. I expect a quality alignment to cost around $250. I expect an $80 alignment to be no better than it ought to be.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Doesn't appear to be more susceptible than any other car. Many cars of all makes are out of alignment when delivered to the owner.
     
  6. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    Thanks, I've also read/confirmed that the frame shops are better equipped to give the best alignment. In the case of my truck the 1st vs. the 4th alignment they did was off... so it showed they got it wrong on the 1st shot!
     
  7. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    Long ago I received a recommendation from Martin Eberhard to go to Custom Alignment in Mountain View. I've had the Roadster aligned there twice and have been happy with the results. In particular, the original alignment resulted in too much wear on the inside of the rears, but that has not been a problem with the second set of tires after the adjusted alignment.
     
  8. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #8 wiztecy, Sep 23, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
    Talked to a friend who races, has a fun Lamborghini, nice Maserati, and other exoitc cars about alignments... he recommended Dietschwerks in San Jose, CA.

    Dietsch Motorsports - Lotus Repair and Upgrade Specialist in San Jose CA BMW Mini Porsche

    Checked out their webpage and recognized they mostly specialize in Lotus Elises. They one they use (of many) pictured on their webpage. They also rent out the Elises if you don't want to track your car and have one dialed and ready to go from the start. Sounds fun!

    Called them today.... asked if they could dial in the alignment on the Roadster. they said that they'll have Roadster aligned and dialed in better than what Tesla would be able to do. He asked questions about the tire wear, how many miles on the car, etc... So nice he was interested from the start and wanted to know a little history of the car. What's nice too is that they have a Miata Loaner car, so I can just drop the Roadster off.... goto work, then drive back to pick up the car. Have to ask why its not an Elise ;) Nice having that option though, especially for something that's not major in repair like an aliment.

    Will let you guys know how the Roadster is setup after its done and the pricing... The Roadster does feel like its "crabbing"... its pulling the right rear wheel out to the right, so the front's compensating and the steering wheel is favored more to the left. On Highway 17 I don't trust it in the turns... its just "off" that changes the whole handling and dynamics. Can't wait to feel it after its aligned... I may ask to have it setup better for highway 17, twists and turns, where I really feel that Roadster gives me full control and safety when I travel that windy and hilly corridor. One thing, I feel way more comfortable having people who race and passionate about cars (especially the Elise) setting things up on my baby rather than your regular Joe mechanic....
     
  9. shrink

    shrink Member

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    I've had my CPO Roadster about 7 weeks now. I've only put about 400 miles on it. I just noticed the alignment is already off. It's not pulling or anything, but the steering wheel is off center. It seems rotated about 5-10 degrees to the right when the car is going straight. I'm honestly not sure if it came from Tesla like that since I haven't been driving it much. There were 8200 miles on the car when I took delivery. There are 8600 miles now. Annoying...

    Oh, and a side note - and I'm getting my windshield replaced, too. A rock was nice enough to strike and chip the center of the windshield. Tesla was just out trying to repair it with the resin. When the resin set, about a 1-foot horizontal crack settled into the windshield. Good times.

    The ranger who attempted the repair actually confirmed the off center alignment. Here in Phoenix, they actually said something about going to Mercedes for an alignment, but I'll keep you posted. One thing at a time...
     
  10. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #10 wiztecy, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    I paid a visit to Dietsch Motorsports today and talked to Rob the owner... my appointment is tomorrow but I wanted to talk and see the shop. Wow... lots of Lotus Elises... Everywhere! Rob spent over 1.5 hours talking to me, about the suspension, about the tires, and yes... about electric cars. He's a great person and the visit there was pleasant and fun to say the least. Discovered he has worked on many Roadsters in the past which was awesome to hear. He can do double din radio installations, interior work (if you want the sound deadening kit installed), performance upgrades, etc. on the Roadsters and backs up his work. He typically puts in parts that have a lifetime warranty such as the bushings. So if they fail he'll order another set and fix them back up for you again. Sounds pretty good.

    Here's something I like... He also showed me an adjustable suspension that I just may try out on my Roadster. When I drop the Roadster off tomorrow he's going to line up the shocks to see if they fit. He said it should be around $2500-2700 ($2,500 for a group discount) for both the front and back shocks and then just labor for installation. Its the same shocks / springs they use on the track with the Elise (pic at bottom of page of front/rear shocks). May have to order tighter springs to help compensate for the heavier load of the battery pack. Looks like a great possibility on the horizon. Rob also looked at the swaybars to see if we can run the Elise's, he said the front looks identical so that should work... however the Elise never came with a rear swaybar so we're out of luck there. That looks like a Tesla specific thing, and who knows if they'll sell you just that! ....or a custom job where there's discounts in many. One issue is that there are two versions due to the two different fans. I guess you could run a "dual fan" swaybar on the early "single fan" setup and it will still work. We're also looking in fitting a 5 lug slotted brake rotor on the Roadster as well. Would be sweet to ditch the stupid drilled rotors and goto something that really works on getting rid of brake gasses/heat and dust such as slots!

    He also noted that the Lotus Elises break a bushing on the rear control arm... he looked at mine and what did we find, a worn out broken bushing on the rear control arm... so what happens from having a worn out bushing is that the control arm now hits the subframe and will begin wearing and damaging that whenever you brake. I'll try to get pics of that. He's going to upgrade my bushings to the poly bushings so I won't have that issue again. The bushing wears from braking (the way that the leverage and force are being applied), and just gets over stressed and worn out pre-maturely.

    He also has roll cages / roll bars for the Roadster and can install them.... They're removable which is nice so if your car is a daily driver you can remove the cage and put your sills back on to cover up the mounting holes/bracket. Also doesn't cut or hack the CF parts to make it fit, so it looks great and not scabbed out!

    As a treat... Rob said to walk over to the side of the garage..... we go into a separate bay of his garage and low and behold, its Tesla Roadster Mule 1!!! Mule 1 is the 1st Tesla Roadster built by the early Tesla Crew. It was their 1st concept car. Martin Eberhard had the fun took a sawzall to the Lotus Elise in order to make changes to the frame/structure to support the battery pack and mounted the electronics! So its really cool that Rob, the shop owner has it and owns it now :) Unfortunately the electronics and motor are pulled... Rob would like to build Mule 1 back up, so if anyone has connections let me/him know!

    So what awesome luck through a friend... to end up at the best shop I could imagine to do alignment and work and performance modifications on the Roadster.

    Below are some pics of Mule 1. There are better pics on the web... But this pic is just for proof that Rob's shop has some true Tesla Roots inside!

    Thread and history on Mule 1 & Mule 2:
    The drivable "mule" (modified Elise))




    IMAG0140.jpg IMAG0139.jpg IMAG0136.jpg
     
  11. strider

    strider Active Member

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    If you have to pay for it I would take it here:
    Lotus Car Dealer - Phoenix, Arizona (AZ) | Lotus of Scottsdale

    I've never used them but I would suggest a Lotus dealer over a Mercedes dealer since the Roadster is so similar to the Elise.

    FWIW I have 32k on my Roadster and my steering wheel is slightly off too but to the left. Don't notice my car pulling but an alignment is on my list to do. Thanks wiztecy for the reco. Let us know how it drives and cost if you don't mind. I was going to have the Redwood City Lotus dealer do mine but if you're happy then I'll go w/ Dietsch.
     
  12. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    Cool! Wish there was a shop like that around here! I wonder which Lotus mule is the one they have on display at the Fremont factory. I had my alignment work done at a place where they let me be in the shop all the time and talk to the person working on my car. Their laser alignment equipment was new and they assigned a very experienced tech to work on my car. I had them increase the rear camber to 2.1 from the stock 1.8 deg. It only wears your tires a tiny bit faster on the inside and worth it for the performance.
     
  13. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Your Roadster has a roll bar. You can feel it under the carbon fiber cover, Some of the tub displays in the stores had it attached. You can see it here. 2_chassis.jpg

    Joost has an amazing suspension and brake package on his Roadster. If we can get his specs maybe these guys can replicate it. I belive it was done in house at Tesla but maybe Rob knows about it.
     
  14. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    Thanks vfx, I don't think many people know there's a roll cage behind the cockpit. Nice pic displaying it.

    The cage Rob has and can install is the same full roll cage that the RoC Roadster has:
    Unique Tesla RoC Edition for sale.

    I thought this was a permanent cage and you'd be missing your sills / have a hack job but you don't. Not bad if you raced, did the mountain sprint events, etc. Feels way safer too... which it is if you do allot of high speed driving.


    Yes, Rob was talking about all the upgrades Joost was doing... he does indeed know and has seen the big brake upgrade for the Roadster. I'll ask him about it and inquire about replicating or at least taking over what Joost was doing to some degree for performance parts.

    attachment.php?attachmentid=27644&d=1375817663.jpg
     
  15. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #15 wiztecy, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    Dropped my car off this morning.... Ended up replacing the upper rear control arm bushings and I also went with the adjustable suspension and alignment. My rear will be dialed in at 2.3 for the camber. Rob had an extra set of shocks and springs, the springs were already ordered to be stiffer and he said that will support the extra weight of the Roadster perfectly. Will be ready for pickup today, can't wait to drive home and test it out on HWY 17! Attached are some pics of the setup. Shocks bolted right up, the only modification needed was with the driver's side ABS mount (which the upper shock mount connects to) and different than the Elise. He was able to modify the old mount along the new mount together (some cutting and tig welding). He ensured to keep the original geometry of the old mount which was great to see. Lastly I'll be ordering a Lotus Elise 1" 5 way adjustable front swaybar made by BWR. Its $325 for the street version and $350 for the track version. Comes with the poly bushings:

    Adjustable Sway Bar - Blackwatch Racing, Lotus Performance Parts

    Rob indicated there's another modification we can do to our stock brake setup, that is to swap out the aluminum brake pistons that are in the calipers with these custom one's he has (which also are vented to help displace heat). Aluminum is better conductor of heat than Stainless Steel and contributes to the brake fading. He said all his race cars have the stainless pistons installed.

    Here's a site that has the pistons so you can see what they look like:
    Vented HP Stainless Steel Pistons

    And lastly, Rob is able to get Tesla parts if you need them, he has the wholesale license where he can order them from Tesla which is great for a one stop shop!

    IMAG0143.jpg

    IMAG0144.jpg

    IMAG0147.jpg

    IMAG0148.jpg

    IMAG0156.jpg
     
  16. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #16 wiztecy, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    Shocks are installed and WOW what a big difference in handling and stability! This is definitely what the Roadster needed... not only that for safety but also for comfort. I now feel like the car is now connected to the road instead of flopping around like a fish out of water. Although there was traffic on HWY 17 tonight I had a few twists and turns I could feel the awesome improvement over the stock setup. The car literally hugs the road now, not only that I don't get that over-rebound spring bounce that I found so dangerous... it was taking my well needed weight off the rear wheels and sending it up in space. What traction do you have there? Friction with air, that's it. The fronts track really well and feel excellent. But it was the back end poor handling that worried me the most with the stock setup, especially having a mid-weighted (mid-engine) vehicle. Once that back end loses traction in a turn Good Luck. Interesting enough the ride is more comfortable, the stock shocks and springs jarred and pummeled the Roadster with every imperfection in the road while every pot-hole and bridge divide felt like depth charges hitting a submarine. That's no longer an issue now... I use to bite my teeth every time I anticipated a bump. The ride is really really nice. I also feel safer at higher speeds on straights... I no longer feel like I'm going to pogo off the road when I'm doing 75MPH+, the car is stable and agile there as well, the way it should have been from the start. I'm super super happy with the Nitron Shocks, Springs, Setup and VERY pleased with work that Dietschwerks performed and could clearly see they have pure passion in the work they do.

    I also was thinking of picking up at least a front Swaybar for the Roadster but Rob said that the springs I have on the new shocks should take care of most of the roll and it really isn't needed. He has an adjustable front swaybar laying around we're thinking of throwing on the Roadster... this would be great for a test comparison and feedback and I'm down for it. I dofeel he's right... especially on the street, that I won't feel a huge difference and that money could be spent on something better. Will find a controlled environment to test both the stock Tesla Swaybar with the new adj. shock/spring setup against the adj. front swaybar... a smooth flat open parking lot with cones sounds like a great place. Although I'd like to test both in an off-camber twisty road where you'd really have the roll effect come on.

    Will drive around with the current spring setup four a few weeks and report back to Rob. He said we can make some adjustments if needed. So that's super cool, I'm sure I'll have a few questions and behaviors I can report back that some minor shock / spring adjustments can clean up.
    As for getting back to the original thread, need to change the title, my alignment feels great! The rear was actually dialed in at a 2.1 camber... I'll report back with that over time. Lots of sensory inputs still need to happen with the car as well as feedback. I have to re-learn the new handling dynamics and also re-learn the breaking point of the car. One thing Rob stressed was to be careful driving with the AD07's on the front... for that those were still original. He noticed tears on the side outer edges that I thought was the rubber rolling but what he's actually verified is due to aging. So my Roadster was built in Apr '09, thats how old that those tires are. He noted that where you'll see the real weakness is in traction and it really shows when you're in the rain. He's witnessed many crashed Lotus Elises with aged AD07's on the front. So just be aware of that. We sat down today talking about other tires, ones he knows are good, sticky, and have a really good longevity. Since I have the 1.5 I told him about matching up the Revolutions of the tire to the AD07 stocks the Roadster has. The 2.x's have more flexibility there since they have tire learning... I wish Tesla updated the firmware so the 1.5's have that... Skunkware anyone? And since I have a 1.5 I'm really going to work hard with Rob on trying to find a better tire than the Yoko AD0x.
     
  17. djp

    djp Roadster 2.0 VIN939

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    Nice report, I noticed the same when I upgraded from the stock suspension to the adjustable suspension. The ride is a lot more comfortable but still firm with great road feel. I'm no longer bracing for every bump and crack in the pavement, and I can take rougher roads at speed instead of dropping down to a slow creep. It was a huge improvement.

    My adjustable front sway bar was installed first and the shocks a couple of weeks later, so I had a chance to compare the sway bars independently from the shocks. The front sway bar on the loose setting made the steering lighter and cornering seemed more controlled and natural. The shocks improved the ride tremendously and were a bigger impact than the sway bar.

    What settings are you running the adjustable shocks at?
     
  18. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    #18 wiztecy, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    Thanks! I believe the shocks are setup on a softer setting... I'll reconfirm tomorrow with Rob. He indicated if I was bobbing up and down allot in the cockpit that we'd stiffen the shocks up some more. Interesting about your take on the swaybar... Rob did mention that I'd feel more under-steer on the Roadster with the new shock/spring setup... that I did. Also the steering is harder to turn... enough to notice. I have to ask him about that dynamics as well... So I'm curious when we play around with an adjustable front swaybar if we can take out that under-steer feeling in the front and how the rest of the car will react to it. One thing Rob stressed about the Roadster and Elises is that you have to keep the power on into the turn and don't let off... if you do you take the weight off the rear wheels and then you lose traction that can lead to the rear breaking loose. That you don't let off the power at all into the turn, try to stay constant, and then right before you break out of the turn and can see your line, accelerate hard. That's the Tesla Roadster's sweetspot!

    Below are the spring rates that were installed (stiffness of the spring itself):

    Front: 550lbs
    Rear 700lbs
     
  19. strider

    strider Active Member

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    Thanks for the update wiztecy. Can you give us a cost breakdown?
     
  20. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    You're welcome, happy to contribute :) The drive into work was more fun and pleasant than ever.... unfortunately on the opposite side (heading to santa cruz) on HWY 17 I saw a smashup of 2 Ferrari's, one Porsche, and a couple Honda's and such.... Appears there was some exotic car rally heading down south (more exotics behind them) and traffic had stopped... due to another accident ahead of them and wham. As I passed I could see a Canary Yellow and Red hood from the Ferrari's crunched and pinched upward... That'd put a dampener on your day.

    I emailed Rob to see if he can give me a breakdown and also a group price if there are multiple people interested in the same setup. I'll reply as soon as I get any info. You can also call him as well and mention that you've been following this thread and you know me. Anything I can help you with please let me know.
     

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