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Checked Alignment: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Dreamin, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. Dreamin

    Dreamin Member

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    #1 Dreamin, Oct 19, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
    Car
    MS60, with 19" wheels and coil suspension. The car didn't feel stable at freeway speeds so I got the alignment checked.

    The Ugly
    Car had almost a half inch of total rear Toe Out... this is a dangerous amount of rear toe out. This much toe out causes the rear to steer the car under acceleration and braking. The car has felt unstable since the first day I got it. The number of alignment problems with this car is getting scarey high... Tesla needs to look into this and take corrective action.

    The Bad
    Based on a few posts here, I had assumed that coil suspension cars had closer to -1.2 deg of camber in the rear. Well, my car has -1.9 deg of negative camber. Looking forward to wearing out my rear tires in 8,000 miles like the cool air-suspension, 21" wheel guys! Not sure why there is such a variance in rear camber on these cars?!

    The Good
    Caught this before it caused an unsafe incident and before it destroyed my rear tires. It's a completely different car after the alignment. Stable, confidence-inspiring, very happy with straight-line performance and handling!

    Conclusion
    If your car feels: Floaty, unstable, steers itself, sways, fishtails... please get your alignment checked. I believe all these problems are related to alignment.

    Alignment
    Went to my local custom alignment shop: I sat in the car while they aligned it (so it's aligned to my body weight).
    In the front I went with a hair toe out. Basically zero toe, but front toe out helps with turn-in response. I was planning on running more negative camber in front, but once I learned how high my rear camber was, I decided to stay conservative with camber in front, and plan to rotate my tires often.
    In the rear, went a little heavy with toe-in: ~3/16" each side. With this, I shouldn't get any toe-out under hard acceleration nor braking. In the words of lolachampcar, "More rear toe-in will add straight line stability at the expense of range and, to a lessor degree, tire wear." Given the hot-mess my car has been since I got it... i'm all-in for straight line stability.

    Highly recommend this shop for anyone in the Los Angeles, CA area.

    EPSON003.jpg
     
  2. DIL

    DIL Member

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    Very useful information. Thanks for posting!
     
  3. Fonzie

    Fonzie Member

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    awesome thread
     
  4. jerry33

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

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    It's easy for the alignment to be knocked out during transit. This problem affects all makes of cars.
     
  5. Chipper

    Chipper Active Member

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    Although I am certain this is true, I would think it would also be very easy to conduct a quick alignment check when the car arrives at the SC? With the proliferation of these reports it would seem a smart preventative measure to assure a quality product at delivery.
     
  6. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    OMG, that is huge toe out. I'm surprised the rear of the car was not doing all the steering for you :)

    For anyone with some Spiderwire or equivalent fishing line and some free time you can check your own toe reasonably quickly.
    Tesla Alignment
    If you do not like what you see, you can then take it to any competent four wheel alignment shop.
     
  7. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Two vehicles ago I had a car where the stock rear camber range was -1.9 to -2.3, and the factory was delivering nearly all cars on the high end of that range. I ended up keeping it around as a beater, and it has 120k on it now. Just put on the third set of tires at 100k. So I agree, camber alone doesn't necessarily destroy the tires (note that I rotated the bidirectional tires religiously).

    With so many extremely bad factory alignments, Tesla should be investigating this. While poor factory alignments aren't limited to Tesla, this is such an extreme case... at the very least when one is as far out of spec as this they should offer to pay for the alignment or something. Even the car I mentioned above eventually had a recall with new control arms that slightly reduced the camber (though I never had them installed).

    Perhaps more importantly, how quickly do they drift back out of alignment. Do we know? I kind of wonder if once the toe is corrected if it's back out of spec in a few thousand miles. Or does it hold rather well once aligned properly?
     
  8. jcaspar

    jcaspar Member

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    Would be interesting to see if there is any correlation with alignment problems and cars that are shipped. I am hoping with a factory pickup I can avoid this problem.
     
  9. jerry33

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

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    That would be a good idea. I'm not sure it's being done though. Also you want it spot-on, not just within-specs.
     
  10. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    My car's "wandering" started close to same time as the 12k / yearly maintenance, so I just had 'em look at it and correct at the service center.

    Fixed it wonderfully.
     
  11. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    You'd think they'd make it part of the new car prep cycle on every vehicle arriving, like getting it detailed (though some people have reported sub-standard detailing jobs as well). How much is involved in checking alignment?
     
  12. swegman

    swegman Member

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    Why not just have the Tesla Service Center do the alignment? That is what I did. My toe was way off and they corrected it. I have the service plan and they old me alignment checks are included in the plan.
     
  13. strider

    strider Active Member

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    So our annual is coming up. I will ask the SC to look at the alignment. The specified ranges seems really wide. Are there ideal settings I should demand them adjust to?
     
  14. hoopty_yo

    hoopty_yo Member

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    Wow, that rear toe was bad. Toe out on the rear is bad in any car. That would definitely make it unstable. That -1.9 rear camber isn't too terrible. Good for handling, not great for tire wear. Have to pick your poison. I have attempted to align many BMWs because of tire wear complaints. -2.5 was common and in spec as I recall. Usually no adjustment without a kit, but that's another story.
    I do have a question about the front cross camber. It appears that the split is going to the right. Does the vehicle drift right when you let go of the wheel? I usually did "road crown" alignments in this area. Also, is there a caster adjustment on this car?
     
  15. Dreamin

    Dreamin Member

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    #16 Dreamin, Oct 19, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
    Yes, I was going to title this post,"...So THAT's what a HALF INCH of rear TOE OUT feels like..."
    Very unsettling indeed.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I plan on 'nail-polishing' (marking) my toe adjustment bolts. Will post pics.

    - - - Updated - - -

    No issues with using a Tesla SC.

    i went to my alignment shop because (1) I trust them, I've been using them for years for both my street and tracks cars, (2) I didn't want the alignment just 'in-spec' - I wanted it set exactly to my specs, and (3) I wanted it aligned with me in the car (to my body weight).

    - - - Updated - - -

    The car drives straight as an arrow. I spend most all of my time in the HOV / fast lane. I'm guessing this lane is crowned to the left in Calif, so I left the cross-camber alone (before vs after alignment).

    I believe there is a front caster adjustment. I normally tell my alignment guy to "max out caster" as I like that heavy resistance / returns to center steering feel with high caster. But I am now running 9" front wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sports and the steering is already very heavy. So I left caster alone.
     
  16. hoopty_yo

    hoopty_yo Member

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    Thanks for the response. My next question was going to be if you drive in the left lane, so that's answered.
    For Gizmotoy's question about how long the alignment lasts - it should be a long time, but we always recommended having it checked a couple times a year. That may be a bit much, but it is cheaper than tires and if you notice abnormal wear, it's already too late.
    The vehicle will toe out on the front as the suspension settles and camber generally goes negative under compression (IFS 4x4s being the exception), so the alignment will change with age and of course wear of control arm bushings.
     
  17. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    #18 lolachampcar, Oct 20, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
    Funny thing is that the SCs do not need to throw every car on the rack to do QC. Just get an old fashion toe bar (one for 21s and one set for 19s) and slip it under the car in front of and behind the rear wheel. It would take a whopping 3 minutes for two guys to do this during the PDI! Tesla is smarter than this. They really should not have let this one slide as long as they have.


    I just emailed Ownership.... This is stupid.


    Oh, and when I say old fashioned toe bars are cheap-
    Longacre Racing - Online Catalog: Electronic Wheel Scales, Gauges, Pyrometers, Chassis Setup and More!
     
  18. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    A year or so is a good guess on how long it should last, but I'm interested in how long it does last. Having owned more than one car that refused to hold an alignment, I wonder if the toe on these gradually drifts or if its just not being aligned well at the factory/is pulled out during shipping.

    Dreamin's test should tell us which it is.
     
  19. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    This is very good information. I had the "floaty" freeway sensation and also noticed the kind of squirrelly feel under hard acceleration too. I left it until my 12,500 mile inspection where they also replaced the drive unit. I assume they did an alignment (I asked) but haven't received my service summary e-mail yet. I'll find out tomorrow when I take my 45 minute freeway drive to work.
     

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