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Alignment shops to AVOID in Seattle = Firestone, Car Tender

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by S-2000 Roadster, Jan 18, 2015.

  1. S-2000 Roadster

    Apr 10, 2009
    My Roadster just had about $1,000 worth of alignment work done, and I'd like to share the negative experiences to save others the potential grief. I did not pay this money out of pocket, and I didn't deal with these alignment places directly. The body shop handling repairs on my car used insurance money and handled the appointments, so I didn't always have the alignment report but I did have the displeasure of discovering the subsequent problems on my own. I mention this latter bit because it's possible that things might have gone differently if I'd been a direct customer (but they could have been even worse!)

    Firestone on Westlake somehow managed to botch the alignment royally. Despite having done hundreds of Roadsters - because they're across the street from the original Tesla Motors dealership - they returned my car to my body shop with several specifications in red on the alignment printout, but said nothing. The car felt wrong, I found the alignment report in the glove box where it seemed "hidden," and eventually something broke loose on my suspension. In their defense, it turned out that one or more of my suspension parts were wearing out and needed to be replaced, but my body shop said that any alignment technician with experience should have known that something was wrong. Needless to say, we decided to take the car elsewhere after replacing the parts, but Firestone has already charged the full amount and never said anything about there being issues with the final alignment. Maybe they're only capable of handling minor alignment issues, but they should have made it clear that the car was beyond their abilities. They earned my anti-recommendation by not being transparent about the level of service provided. The customer should not have to find out this sort of thing on their own.

    Car Tender then managed to do an even worse job. They got the car after some new Lotus Sport suspension pieces had been installed as upgrades, but they left the car in worse shape than Firestone. Looking at the alignment printout, 8 of their 16 check points were in red! I could tell that the car was seriously worse than before. Every time I hit an uneven bump on the road, the car would steer violently to the left. With all of this Pacific Northwest rain, I was in significant danger of an accident with all of the freeway construction and uneven road surfaces. Before the work, Car Tender bragged about having "racing" experience, and even made a big deal about asking for my weight, claiming that they would dial in the suspension settings for my individual mass. After I got the car back, these "race" claims fell flat. Again, I did not deal with them directly, but suffered the consequences. The next alignment shop actually confirmed that the job was not done correctly at all. I almost suspect that Car Tender had the car sideways on the rack. Not only does Car Tender earn an anti-recommendation for failing to mention that they made the car worse, they get the worst possible score because it was actually dangerous to drive the car in the condition that they left it.

    By the way, I have had positive experiences with other alignment shops in the area, mostly Bellevue, with prices ranging from inexpensive ($91.43) to very expensive ($491.51), so it's not just the exotic shops that can handle a Roadster. I don't want to sully the names of the good shops by even mentioning them in the same thread as Firestone and Car Tender.

    p.s. Thanks to folks here on this forum who answered my alignment questions. I learned a lot about the Lotus suspension that our Roadsters inherited, and it's clear why the bump steering was so bad (but not why some shop would take hundreds of dollars and not do their job).

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