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I recently had wheel alignment done on my 2001 Honda Civic, and since I
don't know much about wheel alignments, I thought I would ask a question
or two on this forum.
The scoop is this: a few month after I bought the car, the steering became
sloppy. Going in a straight line at highway speeds, the car would drift
slightly left and right, especially when there was wind or small bumps in
the road. The steering wheel felt stiffer, too, and less precise.
I often check tire pressure so I could rule out that possibility. The
dealerships claimed that all steering components were ok. So, just last
week, I decided to check wheel alignment (under warranty, since I am still
Here is the before and after printout I got from them.
The format of all lines is:
ACTUAL, BEFORE, [SPECIFIED RANGE], in degrees.
2001 Honda Civic
Front left tire
Camber: -0.3 , -0.3, [-0.8, 0.8]
Caster: 1.2, 1.2, [0.6, 2.6]
Toe: 0.02 (again, everything is in degrees), -0.02, [-0.12, 0.12]
SAI: 14,1, 14.1 
The alignment helped, but not too much. There is still a lack of stability
at highway speeds. In addition, the steering wheel is now off-center by
about 1/3 of an inch (which I heard was a common problem with alignments).
I'd like to go to another dealer and do yet another alignment, but I would
like to be prepared this time. The questions are:
1) Regarding the alignment above, did the dealer do a good job? Do I need
another alignment? What would be a good alignment for better straight-line
stability, without increasing wear on the tires too much?
2) Should I be worried about the right camber being out of spec (-0.9
degree vs. the allowable -0.8 degree)? I know camber is not adjustable in
these cars (but can be fixed by replacing parts). I have been extremely
careful with the Civic and have not hit anything to cause the camber to
change. The car hasn't been involved in any accidents. Should I ask the
dealer to try to fix it, or is it not a big deal?
3) If I need another alignment, can you recommend a dealer in the San Jose, CA
Your alignment settings were fine to begin with and all were within factory specs (allowed ranges).
This shop that did the wheel alignment didn't align anything.
If you notice, all your "after/actual" specs are only .01 or .02 different. All they did was lean on a couple of tires or take the readings again so it recorded slightly different settings that was it.
The problem with stability which I 've noticed in my '01 Civic EX coupe is the SHOCKS! They suck and they deteriorate fast. I noticed the TOE went to 0 on one tire in the back. Tell them you want the other tire set to 0.0 as well. 0 toe in the back helps with stability (don't worry about the range, those toe ranges will ruin your tires faster and make the car more unstable). Have them set the rear left tire to 0 as well, but the biggest factor in stability is shocks and springs. Our shocks are for the dogs. Honda really screwed up with those. I think I 'll be left with no alternatives but to spend the $500 on the Konis plus labor, plus $150 for springs, probably $1,000 after all is said and done and it SUCKS! My '97 Civic had 140k mi. when I sold it and it solid on the highway with the orgininal shocks & springs. The '01+ suspension just plain sucks.