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2006 Pontiac Vibe AWD - improper rear wheel alignment?

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New User

Apr 2, 2016, 1:52 PM

Post #1 of 3 (842 views)
2006 Pontiac Vibe AWD - improper rear wheel alignment? Sign In

Vehicle Details
  • 2006
  • Pontiac
  • Vibe AWD
  • 100,000 KM / 62,000 miles

We recently purchased a used vehicle. The purchase agreement was to put the vehicle in alignment.

On the day of purchase, the vehicle had not been aligned so it was done while my wife waited to finalize the transaction. The alignment report (see below - Dealer Alignment Report) shows the before and after. Their mechanic said to fix the rear alignment, he removed the four winter wheels in the back.

The vehicle was purchased and a few days later my son noticed the vehicle was pulling. We took it to our mechanic and they noted both rear alignment bolts are seized in the bushing. They worked on the left rear wheel: heat, penetrating oil, double-nut + impact tool, etc. It remained seized. They told us to repair it, they'd have to cut off the bolts, get new bushings, etc etc. Big bucks! Attached is their alignment report - see Our Mechanic Alignment Report below.

As our original agreement was with the dealer to have it aligned, we took it back to the dealer for the repair. We were suspicious about how they originally got the vehicle in alignment though.

The dealer agreed to let me watch the alignment process. The mechanic was able to adjust the rear left wheel (I believe the work our mechanics did on that wheel eventually paid off and the bolt finally gave). The right rear wheel's bolt remained seized.

While I was observing, the dealer's mechanic also tried: heat, double-nut + impact tool, air ratchet. It didn't work. Prior to this, he told me he could try to put the wheel into alignment by using a long torque bar and locking the wheel in place. I told him I didn't like this idea because that seemed to be a lot of stress on the system. I also told him it seems it'd be easy for the vehicle to get out of alignment again. Also, when he showed me how he would do it, I could see the rear right of the vehicle lifting!

While he continued to wrestle with the problem, he finally said we have to cut out the bolt, order new parts, etc. He talked to the parts person and they were on the way to ordering parts.

I went to chat with my wife about what was going on and that's when things went sideways.

The manager talked with us, then went and spoke to his mechanic for 30-45 minutes. The manager comes back and says, the vehicle is now aligned. Hmm. Let me show you.

We go to the bay and the mechanic stated he used 'the stress method' to put the wheel in alignment. That is, using a long bar, he turned the bushing bolt, got the wheel to align and locked it in.

I'm thinking that's how the original alignment was done and that's why after a couple of days it became out of alignment again.

Am I right to be nervous about this method of putting a wheel in alignment? What possible issues can arise from putting a wheel into alignment in this way?
Thank you!

Dealer Alignment Report

The front right wheel's Toe was out of specification but it was brought back in.
  • Rear:
    • Camber (Left / Right)
      • Initial: -1.14 / -1.40
      • Specification (min / max): -1.48 / 0.02
      • Final: -0.90 / -1.21
  • Toe (Left / Right / Total)
    • Initial: -0.04 / 0.28 / 0.24
    • Specification (min / max | total: min / max): 0.00 / 0.20 | 0.00 / 0.40
    • Final: 0.14 / 0.13 / 0.27
  • Thrust angle
    • Initial: -0.16
    • Specifications (min / max): -0.10 / 0.10
    • Final: -0.01

Measurements in degrees.

Our Mechanic Alignment Report
  • Rear:
    • Camber (Left / Right)
      • Initial: -0.95 / -1.06
      • Specification (min / max): -1.48 / 0.02
      • Final: -0.84 / -1.07
  • Toe (Left / Right / Total)
    • Initial: -0.13 / 0.35 / 0.22
    • Specification (min / max | total: min / max): 0.00 / 0.20 | 0.00 / 0.40
    • Final: -0.15 / 0.31 / 0.16
  • Thrust angle
    • Initial: 0.24
    • Specifications (min / max): -0.10 / 0.10
    • Final: 0.23

Measurements in degrees.

Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Apr 2, 2016, 2:31 PM

Post #2 of 3 (832 views)
Re: 2006 Pontiac Vibe AWD - improper rear wheel alignment? Sign In

I don't think bending stuff using a pry bar when there is an adjustable eccentric is the correct way to correct toe in the rear. Why can't the bolts and eccentrics be replaced, so proper alignment adjustment could be done? Using a torch on something like that will probably cook the rubber inside the control arm bushing, which could throw off your toe.

Your mechanic could probably get the bolts, control arms, and eccentrics off a salvage yard vehicle if you don't want to pay dealer part prices.

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on Apr 2, 2016, 2:32 PM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Apr 2, 2016, 4:59 PM

Post #3 of 3 (822 views)
Re: 2006 Pontiac Vibe AWD - improper rear wheel alignment? Sign In

OK - no bending stuff for this is first. If the shop can't deal with stuck bolts @ 10 years old the vehicle must be a real rust bucket already or not powerful enough air tools.

Notes: The alignment isn't worth a damn if you load the vehicle up like 4 complete wheels w tires will show different than without them. If you just drove in with all passenger seating occupied it would read differently then with none.

IDK - How do the "Winter" wheels look and treadwear on them now? Nice and even or can you feel what I call "saw-toothing" by hand or see it on what should be marked wheels where they were!

Everything will change tow including tire pressure, tire wear, full or low on fuel, driver's weight while checked or not and I'm not kidding.

What messes me up is why these adjustment bolts are that bad in the rear already? I live in a rust belt and know that game too well but it shouldn't be that hard with the right tools which I think are lacking somehow.

A super strong air wrench and correct impact sockets and knowing how you can get those to at least move without heat for these things made of much stronger steel than common nuts and bolts around a vehicle,


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