View Full Version : Wheel Alignment Problems

14-02-2004, 07:45 PM
A general question about wheel alignment please folks.

Our 323 Astina – base model 19 months old – has started a tendency to pull to the left. Dealer did a wheel alignment at the last service (one month ago) and made it worse. I complained and took it back a week later.

They spent seven (7) hours – yes I was there – loosening and retightening suspension in accordance with instructions from Mazda HQ and did three 4 wheel alignments. It is marginally better but will still exit the left side of the road in 3 seconds. :evil: Complained again and they want me to bring it back again so the Mazda man from HQ can drive it.

I’m half expecting the Mazda man to tell me they’re all like that or Mazda was trying to emulate a Kia Rio or some other BS but I’d like to be armed with some facts.

Has anyone heard of any alignment issues with the 2001+ Mazda 323?

Anyone have facts, or know where I can get them, on the relationship between Toe, Camber and Caster and this tendency to pull left?

Cosmo Dude
14-02-2004, 07:59 PM
Most cars are designed to gradualy drift to the left (or in LHD to the right) just in case you nod off when you're driving you don't endanger other road users (you just kill your self)...
This should happen gradualy over a km or so not in 3 seconds.
If you have a base model with non directional tyres you could try moving them around from wheel to wheel as a previous wheel alignment issue could've scrubbed your tyres in an odd fashion.

BTW, welcome to AstinaGT I hope you enjoy your time here. Feel free to avail your self of our amenaties and join in our activities...

14-02-2004, 08:20 PM
Thanks for the reply and welcome CD. Yes it should tend to drift left but not try to exit stage left rapidly.

I get the feeling from what I "think" I understood from discussions at the dealer that this might be a broader issue with the later models and seems to surface at about 15,000 - 20,000 km.

Cosmo Dude
14-02-2004, 08:36 PM
try the tyre thing anyway,
At worst I'm wrong and you can tell me so
At best Mazda will have to admit they're wrong and you can try them on for a new set of front tyres.

Any one else with a simalar experience please feel free to post

14-02-2004, 09:50 PM
The dealer swapped the tyres around (side to side and corner to corner) during the 7 hours they stuffed about with the car, so it looks like that had no effect. :(

15-02-2004, 11:11 AM
JBT: I have the exact same problem.. since day 1, my car has pulled to the left (brand new SP20, plated may 03).

Anyway... I told them at my 1,000KM service, I was told it was a feature of the suspension, (Car reacts to the road and amplifies any gradient in the road surface, really? why doesnt it ever pull to the right? No road ever leans to the right, oh well)

I told them the same thing at 10,000KM service I was told that I was running with low tyre pressure.. (I was like really, but I check that, maybe a dodgy thing at the servo.)

I told them the same thing at 20,000KM service I am told it is MY FAULT! :evil: Why? Because I have new springs (40mm lower) and I have 18" wheels. So I screwed it! :evil:

I have been having running arguments with service, mazda HQ melbourne! but their solution? Put everything back to original then they will look at it! :evil:

WTF! I told them why didn't they do a wheel alignment check on it at 1,000KM or 10,000KM??

Because whoever test drove it thought it was good enough!! :evil: :evil: :evil:

I told them, from day 1, I could never let the steering go, my car would start to exit stage left! but their answer "You should always hold the steering wheel"

So I don't know what else to do. I did get wheel alignment, and still no fix. I have been pointed that it maybe a caster problem!

And on top of this the Mazda HQ guy had the nerve!! :evil: :evil: to tell me. "Why didn't your mag/suspension place check the caster and point it out to you straight away".

I was like :shock: WTF your mazda service didn't do it.. yet you expect everyone else to do it! get the FU*K away from me, you hypocrite! :evil:

anyway.. the saga continues!

15-02-2004, 11:18 AM
oh yeah, another thing (sorry about this rant :wink: )

The guy at mazda hq said, well you can't argue that they should have done a wheel alignment, as it is the same as arguing that the doctor should have done something different for you stomach ache. err.. I am thinking its more like if you think you have a broken arm or fractured arm, the doctor says don't worry about an X-Ray even though its the way to be sure about things!

If you are having problems pulling to the left or with the suspension settings, I cannot think of a better way then checking with a full wheel alignment.

15-02-2004, 11:27 AM
thats crap! (that iit doesnt track right). most cars should be set up to stay in a straight line on roads with a slight camber to the left.

there should be enough play in the factory adjustments to get this right.

i'd say go see another dealer ad tell him of your problems with xxx dealer and see if he'll do you a good deal. or go somewhere else and get them to do it and present mazda with the bill!

15-02-2004, 11:32 AM
I went to bob jane T-marts for a quick check.. and he told me sounds like a caster problem, and ozzy tyres had told me that the caster seems like a problem.

When I told the service department this, the response was.. ah.. don't go to those places they don't know what they are talking about! WTF :evil: justpissesmeoffmoreandmore! ... breathe....

Cosmo Dude
15-02-2004, 12:06 PM
If you were in Melbourne I'd sugest taking it to Traction tyres, they sell race and rally tyres as well as chassis setup. they would have the knowledge to do the work and advise on the best solution. You need to find a local tyre/suspension place who can do the same for you, most Bob shops will just align to what the computer tells them which is OK for the average family truckster but not good when you actualy have a problem.
Another solution may be the Pedders $14 check, I don't know if they check caster, give 'em a call it's cheaper than a wheel alignment.

Cosmo Dude
15-02-2004, 01:24 PM
Caster (for those who have heard the term but not under stood it)

Caster may be defined as the tilting of the spindle support centreline from true vertical, as viewed the side of the vehicle.
When the spindle is tipped so that the support centreline intersects the roadway at a point (lead point) ahead of the actual tire contact point, the caster is called POSITIVE. Tilting the spindle so that the support centreline strikes the road behind the tire contact point produces NEGATIVE caster.
The spindle support centreline may be assumed to be a line drawn through the centre of the spindle ball joints or through the centre of the kingpin where used.
Caster either positive or negative, is measured in degrees from true vertical.
Positive caster tends to assist the wheels in maintain straight ahead position.
Many manufacturers specify negative caster. The steering axis inclination angle will provide sufficient tracking stability despite the lack of positive caster.
Always set caster exactly as specified. Make certain both are alike within 1/2 deg. Due to the normal (hump in centre) of most roads, handling is often improved by deliberately setting the driver’s side caster to 1/2 deg. less (when specs call for positive set ting) or 1/2 deg. more (when specs call for negative setting) than that used on the passenger’s side.

Taken from 'AUTO SERVICE AND REPAIR' Stockel/Stockel

15-02-2004, 01:28 PM
pedders is good, and they need the car for less than an hour....

yeah they can tell you the caster, camber, spring rate, damper rate, and something else... i think they check the alingment in the same step

15-02-2004, 03:54 PM
Because whoever test drove it thought it was good enough!! :evil: :evil: :evil:

Unfortunately that is the attitude adopted by most car manufacturers these days in regards to their service deptartment.. If you take your car in to be looked at, in this case Mazda, they will only service/repair/ whatever it to Mazda's satisfactory standards not the customers satisfactory standards. A sad fact unfortunately, unless you specifically tell them that you want to have XXXX as the final outcome and you won't except anything less..

Mind you having said this, I recently had my car serviced for the first time here at the Ballarat dealership and the Head Service guru really looked after my car. Great service and they rotated the tyres and gave the best balancing job that the car has ever had in the time i've had it. Very happy.


15-02-2004, 04:07 PM

So, I'm not the only one. Sorry to hear about the the line of absolute ****e you've been spun there preeman80. :( The funny thing with me was that after 7 hours of their stuffing around and test driving, they ask me to take it home and call them to let them know how it goes. Don't they road test the freakin' car???

Thanks for all that info Cosmo Dude.........I'll be going in armed with that knowledge.........and a few rounds of 50 cal. :twisted:

More news. I've had a talk to the wise ones at Fulcrum suspension and it seems there is an issue going on here. They reckon thet've had a few cars from dealers in there and the problem seems to be in some factory fault with the cross member - didn't say whether it was position (caster perhaps???) or some other problem. They have fixed the cars under warranty. The symptoms and time frame for this to happen are consistent with the problem we're having.

Let's see what Mazda Man has to say when we meet on Friday. :roll:

Cosmo Dude
15-02-2004, 04:15 PM
Part of the problem is (and I understand why) preeman complained at the regular service intervals...
If he had complained at 1000km, 2000, km, 3000km, 4,5,6,7,8,9000km they would've gone out of their way to get the problem fixed as having a car back so many times for free work just does not make financial sense and the other customers may get the wrong idea about the dealers competency.
JBT just take the car back and don't accept it until it's fixed, don't wait on site for it to be fixed, leave your phone number and be prepared to take it for a test drive and leave it there over night several times until your happy

16-02-2004, 05:09 PM
wowzer I cant believe the BS they are spinning you guys....I had this same problem too...unfortunately my cars out of warranty now :evil: and I'm left with this wackness. Would a replacement caster kit like the whiteline fix it?

Cosmo Dude
16-02-2004, 05:48 PM
It's an industry thing, I had a leak in a fuel rail on a work Commodore, I was told that they tested and couldn't find a problem. When I started the car and a petrol puddle formed under my engine, straight back in and straight to the service manager to tear him a new one :x , I had a courtesy car while they fixed it ..|..
Had the same BS on many warantee claims with many manurfacturers

16-02-2004, 07:35 PM
yea.. whiteline caster kit may fix it

17-02-2004, 05:03 PM
Most of the time its the tyres that make it pull to one side! Never had a problem if the tyres are new! But if they have done 10k with a bad 4wa the tyres will be screwed causeing the car to pull to one side! Then u do a wheel alignment and it still pulls, but the car is mechanicaly correct, then its the tyres that have worn on an angle causeing it to pull! U just leave it set up correctl and they tyres will wear flat again which will make the car drive straighter after a couple of thousand k's!

Remember to check tyre pressures, wheel bearings, diff bearings, sticking brakes,spring hights etc! All easy stuff!

18-02-2004, 12:34 PM
most of the time in bad cases its cause the wheels arn't attached....

folled by half cooked brakes, wheel bearing, and then broken arms (whats wrong with going through the terrigal causeway at 130km???)

18-02-2004, 12:46 PM
ummm... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

20-02-2004, 12:34 PM
So here is the result for those who are interested.

The MAN from Mazda (Qld) Head Office met me at the dealership today. He took a look under the bonnet and, after noting where the top strut cam plates were, said the car would pull to the left with such settings. Looks like things got completely muddled by the dealership at the last rectification attempt. :(

He then took the car to the dealership wheel alignment area and personally supervised a full correct alignment. After the alignment he brought the car to me and we went for a short drive – beeeyoooodiful! :D

He is still not completely happy with the dealership equipment and suspects it may be out of calibration. To double check the car and the dealership equipment calibration, he has arranged a further complete alignment check of our car at Fulcrum Suspensions on Monday. :D

I think the way the dealership and Mazda (Qld) have gone about getting to the bottom of this problem is terrific and has shown an absolute commitment to quality. Count me as :D :D :D :D

20-02-2004, 12:37 PM
good to hear! :D