Alignment/tire wear problem

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Dustbucket, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. Dustbucket

    Dustbucket Guest

    The front tires on my 1994 Civic EX coupe are wearing unevenly. The
    inside edge (2-3") of both tires has worn down almost to the belt.
    I'll be getting new tires and a 4-wheel alignment in a couple of days.
    However, I'd like to be a bit more informed about what might be causing
    the problem, and be prepared if the alignment guy says I need major
    suspension work.

    So, any ideas what might be causing the problem? And, if I can't get
    the alignment done at the place I buy the tires, should i get the
    alignment or the new tires first?

    details: tires have been properly inflated for the most part, no work
    done to the front end recently (save for new front brakes), no hitting
    of curbs or major potholes recently, first time this car is having an
    alignment done.
    Dustbucket, Nov 25, 2005
  2. Dustbucket

    jim beam Guest

    from what i've seen, your generation of civic doesn't have a higher
    frequency of busting out the lower wishbone bushings. if that's
    happened, your toe will be off, hence your tire wear. get under the car
    and check the bushings where the wishbone attatches to the body. it's
    pointless replacing tires & adjusting alignment if the bushings are gone.

    bushing replacement is usually done by replacing the whole suspension
    arm, but if you google this group, you should find the bushing part
    numbers if you have access to the right tools and the desire to save a
    few bucks.

    if the bushings are ok, just replace the tires & have an alignment done.
    you should be fine. beware, most shops i've been to are not very good
    at getting it right first time on hondas - the rear always seems to
    confuse them, [and on a honda, the rear is critical]. make sure you get
    a warranty on the alignment work and keep taking it back if the tires
    show /any/ signs of uneven wear. you can tell by looking at the run
    line on the tread at the shoulder. it should be in the same place
    relative to the same tread features on both sides of the tire.
    jim beam, Nov 25, 2005
  3. Dustbucket

    jim beam Guest

    DOES have a higher frequency... spell checker error. sorry!
    jim beam, Nov 25, 2005
  4. Dustbucket

    Elle Guest

    I am pretty sure only the toe of the front suspension can be adjusted on the
    94 Civic (as well as most other Civics). If camber or caster (the only other
    two alignment settings) are off, then a suspension part is bent, worn, or
    damaged. You can google and find many web sites that discuss toe, camber,
    and caster and how their being out-of-spec may affect tire wear. For
    (notice that this site says inner tire wear indicates out-of-spec camber)

    Does anyone else drive the car? If so, could they have hit something?

    Keep checking back for input here, but I would feel very confident ordering
    only a front alignment. If the shop is worth its salt, it will take a few
    minutes and see if anything is obviously amiss with the rear suspension.

    Get the new tires first, then have the alignment done.

    For an overview of your Honda's suspension, steering, and alignment, go to . On the left, click on "Repair Info," then "Vehicle Repair
    Guides." Click on car year, make, and model, etc. Go to the section on
    suspension and steering, etc. The drawings should help you to discuss this
    with your shop.

    My 1991 Civic with 172k miles has never had an alignment done. Tire wear is
    even. I drive pretty conservatively but sometimes on back country roads.

    I for one would welcome an update on what the shop finds. Good luck.
    Elle, Nov 25, 2005
  5. Dustbucket

    SoCalMike Guest

    id guess excessive toe-in.
    SoCalMike, Nov 25, 2005
  6. Dustbucket

    Jason Guest

    This question is for the original poster (OP). Did you buy the car new or
    used. I once heard a story of someone in my home town that purchased a
    used car that appeared to be in perfect condition. He could not keep the
    front wheels in alignment and had to replace the front tires about every 4
    months due to the serious alignment problem. He done some research on the
    car and found out that the former owner had wrecked the car as as result
    the frame of the car was bent. After the person (that wrecked the car) had
    the car repaired, he realized that the frame was bent due to the alignment
    problem. He traded it in on another car. Somehow,the car ended up in my
    hometown. The person placed new tires on front of the car and traded it in
    on another car in a large city near our home town. He warned everyone in
    my hometown not to buy the car.
    Jason, Nov 26, 2005
  7. Dustbucket

    E Meyer Guest

    I would say this is an extremely likely scenario. With the advent of
    "un-adjustable" suspension angles that seems to be a side-effect of
    McPherson strut suspensions, suddenly many cars get this way and nobody
    knows how to fix them.

    I found an honest frame & alignment shop some years ago when I had a Ford
    truck with the twin I beam suspension that had to be bent to correct the
    alignment. Every used car I buy goes straight to them as soon as I get it.
    Since it is a frame shop, they have the equipment and expertise to do
    whatever needs to be done. They can replace parts, adjust whatever is
    adjustable, or literally bend it back into spec if necessary. Usually the
    bill is less than the tire shop places charge for a simple toe adjustment.

    I think everybody should find such a place.

    In answer to the other question above:

    If you have the alignment done while the old tires are still in place, it
    gives the tech a good idea what the problems are just by looking at them.
    If you do it this way, make sure to tell them to align it to spec and not to
    make any adjustments to compensate for the behavior of the worn tires.

    If you wait and have it done after the new tires are on, then it might take
    them longer to find all the problems because they won't have the clues from
    the old tires about what is going on in the suspension. But with the new
    tires in place, they can also make additional adjustments to compensate for
    any anomalies in the new tires.
    E Meyer, Nov 26, 2005
  8. Dustbucket

    jim beam Guest

    not so easy! where are you? i'd /love/ to know about a place like
    that! i've asked around here in the bay area many times about a small
    castor angle issue on my civic, and no one wants to know - they're only
    interested in the >$3k crash rebuild work.
    jim beam, Nov 26, 2005
  9. Dustbucket

    E Meyer Guest

    I'm in the Dallas, Texas area. This particular place calls itself a frame
    and alignment shop (specifically "Dallas Frame and Alignment"). Their
    specialty is frame straightening which I guess qualifies as crash repair (as
    opposed to rebuild). No body work, no engine work, just frame and
    suspension stuff. There are several such places around Dallas. I'm sure
    something like this must exist in other places.
    E Meyer, Nov 29, 2005
  10. Dustbucket

    Dustbucket Guest

    I'm the OP of this thread. I finally had the suspension inspection
    done after getting some new snow tires put on. The verdict?

    damaged/worn/loose right lower ball joint

    Over a year ago, I did a tranny oil change at a Honda dealer where the
    technician informed me that the ball joint was a bit loose. I thought
    I would be selling my car within a few months so I chose to ignore
    it.....then I forgot about it.....then the inside of my front tires
    were being worn to the belt. My rear tires were wearing a bit unevenly
    too so it was prudent to get the 4-wheel alignment.

    My frame and alignment shop, I think, is one of those gems that an
    earlier poster discussed. It seemed quite old-school, and eminently
    fair and honest. I patronized them once before about 5 years ago after
    a mishap doing donuts in an empty snow-covered parking lot. They've
    been around forever (and they look it--no fancy pantsy interior or
    exterior), do no advertising, and always seem to be busy. However,
    they don't have state-of-the-art computer alignment equipment. Perhaps
    having skilled technicians more than compensated for this shortcoming?
    No matter, i have tight steering, stable handling and my car tracks
    dead even down unbevelled roads. I'm happy!

    Thanks for all the input and advice here!

    obligatory factoid: Toe is the most important alignment adjustment on
    the vehicle for preventing tire wear. An incorrect toe measurement of
    1/8 inch is equal to driving a car one mile and having the tire dragged
    sideways eleven feet. Too much toe and the tread is soon scraped off!
    Dustbucket, Dec 3, 2005
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