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I just replaced all 6 rod ends on my '71 Alfa Spider. I brought it to the shop to get aligned, and I gave them my workshop manual specifying the track rod lengths, and the different tierod lengths. The car was also in their alignment machine's system.

I get the car back a few days later and it tracks nice! Problem is, the steering wheel is 90 degrees off to the left (if I centered the wheel, the car would pull hard right). I bring the car back for them to fix it, and they say that they can't do anything; that they do not do steering geometry and that it is my job to set up the steering geometry before getting it aligned.

I feel these gents just made the error of not centering the wheel properly before aligning it (and if they couldn't get the thing aligned then, they should have just told me). I paid cash, so no real recourse, but I want to write a bad review of them to warn others. Beforehand, though, I'd like to do some innocent until proven guilty justice and see what all you Alfa experts think. Disappointing considering the shop was recommended by a good friend, and they have over 20 years experience doing this stuff.

I'm tempted to just bring it to another shop, but I want to make sure they don't do the same thing. As much as I like to spend money, throwing good money after bad money is silly.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Yeah, sounds like they done screwed it up. See here:

https://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/suspension-steering-brakes-wheels-tires/686582-tech-tip-check-your-101-105-115-toe-alignment.html

Usually the steering will be slightly off after the initial alignment but (a) 90 degrees is a LOT, and (b) doing the final steering straightening is part of a proper alignment.

Personally I've given up on shops around here and have started doing my own toe alignments. Had one shop that used to do it right but all their experienced folks left.
 

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No, no and no.

The steering wheel position/ alignment should not be out at all after a proper alignment.

There is no way the geometry is that far out other than laziness on the part of the shop.

Here is my suggestion. Find center of the steering box and set the wheel there. Set your + bias on the track rod. Perform a string alignment using a tight string from the back to set center using steering rod ends.

Go to another shop.
 

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Rout incompetent boobs. Go somewhere else competent and tell them who's work they need to redo. You'll probably get the "roll-eyes" or "dumbasses" whispered under their breath.

Never accept a car back from a shop when the work is obviously incompetently done. And certainly not pay for it. Document with pictures.
 

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I agree that the steering wheel should be centered when the car is driving on a straight & level road.

Is the steering box centered? Ignoring the steering wheel spokes for the time being, jack up the front end and turn the wheel to full lock then count the turns to full lock the other way. Half way between is where the steering box is centered. Does this position correspond to where the steering wheel is now when driving straight? If so, the steering arm (#12) likely needs to be re-positioned onto the steering box. Certainly does seem like something an alignment shop should be capable of doing (but perhaps at an additional cost?).
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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The left and right ends of the steering range are set by the stop bolts, not the box. So that’s not really a good test.

I really doubt the pittman arm is off, they just messed up the tie rods.
 

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I really doubt the pittman arm is off, they just messed up the tie rods.
I agree. But checking that the steering box is centered won't cost anything. It is possible a PO/PG (Previous Garage) messed up the arm at the bottom of the steering box.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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My point is you can't check if the steering box is centered by turning the wheel back and forth in the car. The limits are set by the adjustable stop bolts on the chassis, not by the box itself. The box should never hit its internal limits.

Technically the last step after aligning the car is to set those stop bolts to get the proper max left/right steering angles.
 

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I get the car back a few days later and it tracks nice! Problem is, the steering wheel is 90 degrees off to the left (if I centered the wheel, the car would pull hard right). I bring the car back for them to fix it, and they say that they can't do anything; that they do not do steering geometry and that it is my job to set up the steering geometry before getting it aligned.

You got rolled by a service writer who is making excuses for his shop doing a bad alignment. This is common with bad shops who specifically hire service writers who are skilled at lying to customers. The claim that an alignment doesn't include "steering geometry" is pure BS. His job was to make you go away without bringing a "come back" to his alignment rack.

As others have commented, it has become increasingly hard to find good alignment shops. Even when the alignment racks are laser and computer enhanced, your typical alignment tech can't be counted on to do a good job. The very best place to get your Alfa alignment done is an Alfa shop that builds and maintains race cars and has an alignment rack (they do exist). Another good choice is a tuner-car or rock-crawler truick shop that does suspension mods. Similarly, a good body-shop that does frame streightening will also be able to do proper alignments. Of necessity these kinds of shops have to have someone who really understands how to do alignments. Be sure and take a copy of the Alfa alignment specs with you and go over each step (in particular make them understand the track-rod measurements which are critical) with the alignment tech before you let them touch your car. If the alignment guy wants to argue with you go to another shop.

Also, maybe it's just me, but I really don't like to have my Super worked on by a shop that won't let me observe the work being done. If I get the "insurance won't allow us . . ." excuse I leave. (Ever wonder why this insurance rule only seems to apply to customers and never to Snap-On guys?)

The tuner-shop I last used had a great alignment guy who immediately commented on the adjustable upper control arms on my Super and then called the other mechanics over to look at my Alfaholics exhaust system. I knew I was at the right place. He did a great job and then drove my Super around the block to make sure the steering wheel was centered. Alas, he left that shop and was replaced by a guy I wouldn't let put wheels on a child's wagon let alone work on my Alfa. When I insisted on telling him what I wanted the guy actually became belligerent that I would dare to tell him how to do his job. I left.
 

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My point is you can't check if the steering box is centered by turning the wheel back and forth in the car.
I agree. But one can certainly check if the steering box is approximately centered. If it is about 90* off then I'd investigate the arm at the bottom of the steering box.

OP - where are you located? There are good shops that know how to properly align our cars. Knowing where you be might get you some good leads. You can go to 'Tools' -> 'User CP' and enter a location.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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I agree. But one can certainly check if the steering box is approximately centered.
No, you can't. That test tells you nothing about the pitman arm position.

The stop bolts are set AFTER the alignment is properly done to get equal left/right on the steering wheel. If the steering isn't centered in the test that you're poroposing, all it tells you is that the bolts aren't properly adjusted. Also, this all only works if the steering rod lengths are set in spec, which we already know they aren't.

Trust me: I've played around with it enough. The steering rotation to the left & right limits on my '91 were WAY different: it was because the alignment shop had messed the rod lengths and the stop bolts were set wrong. I did the job right and now it's perfect.

That's almost certainly what happened in this case: no need to fark with the pitman arm.
 

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Pitman arm prob has a mark to correspond with shaft. Likely was not touched.
 
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