Diffcult alignment choices, need some help. - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Camry 3rd & 4th Gen (1992-1996 & 1997-2001)/1st Gen Solara (1999-2003) Toyota Camry Discussion for years 1992-1996 & 1997-2001, as well as Solara discussion for years 1999-2003. Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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post #1 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Diffcult alignment choices, need some help.

My car was in an accident last year and the front passenger side alignment was off even after alignment. (I replaced lower control arm and ball joint before alignment.) The camber was 1 degree too negative, i.e., the top of the wheel tilts toward the cabin for 1 degree more than the mid point of accepted range. Another consequence is that the caster on that wheel is 0.8 degree too straight. See the attached picture for details. At that time, the shop owner told me that either that strut or the knuckle was bent. He thought the more likely culprit is the strut. So I recent replaced all the 4 struts and 4 end links recently. I also replaced a slightly faulty wheel and balanced all 4 wheels at Costco.

Now I am debating whether and where I should bring my car to do another alignment. So first whether I should do it? I observed that all the bolts attaching the strut to knuckle was very strict. There seems to be no leeway for alignment shop to play with without adding a camber bolt. So should I do an alignment? And should I buy a camber bolt first and then go to alignment shop? How do they charge for installation of the camber bolt?

Second, Pepboys near me charges $130 for lifetime alignment ($180 minus $50 coupon). The shop I used to go to charges $70 each time. I am debating whether I should use the indy shop again. The pro and con is obvious. I am just not sure about chain store like Pepboy's quality of service. Any suggestions on where to go to get it done?

Finally, I am not sure that the symptom that bothers me the most is related to alignment. The car used to make a rhythmic sound once speed is over 40mph. The sound is hard to describe, sounds like one wheel is not balanced or something like it. After I replaced the struts, it is better, but it will still come back around 60-70 mph. So is it really related to alignment at all? I feel that this is the only time I need to find a REALLY good mechanic to take a listen. Noise and vibration related to suspension is VERY hard to track down. I probably finally need help from a very good mechanic. Anybody can recommend one in SF bay area? Thanks a lot.
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2001 Toyota Camry 2.2L LE w/ Solara strut tower brace, Whiteline RSB, Moog links, KYB Strut Plus, Avalon 16'' wheels and 205 60 R16, 134k
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post #2 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 12:44 PM
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There is movement/play between the knuckle and the strut in fact camber can be tweaked by loosening the bolts when the car is on the alignment rack. You should get a proper 4 wheel alignment.

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post #3 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 01:16 PM
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Stock, there is very, very little camber alignment possible on these cars, we're talking half a degree. Seeing your before and after, I believe the shop did all they could. Caster is not adjustable (without uncommon aftermarket caster kits). Camber bolts will get you in spec, but you have to remember to torque those correctly as they like to work themselves loose over time. Instructions say to install the bolts in the upper hole, but in my experience you'll get more adjustment by sticking it in a bottom hole on a Toyota. Shop may charge extra to install camber bolts as they have to take a wheel off to do that (not necessary otherwise for alignment).



For the 60-70mph vibration, something is out of balance or out of round. Assuming the tires are balanced well and the wheels are not terribly bent (if they are, rotating the wheels should move the vibration to another corner), get yourself a Machinist's Dial Indicator (<$20 from HF) and measure the runout on the rotor and the hub face. If it's more than 2-3 thou out of round, you will have issues. I would guess it's more likely that the hub got bent than the whole knuckle.



I've heard enough of stories about "lifetime" alignment shops. I'm sure there are good ones somewhere out there, but I take my car to an $80 alignment indy shop. Even then, they know that I'll need more than just the "toe 'n' go" service, so they charge me $100 (which I'm fine with for a good alignment), and I work with the tech to get the car aligned to the specs that I want.
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post #4 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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There is movement/play between the knuckle and the strut in fact camber can be tweaked by loosening the bolts when the car is on the alignment rack. You should get a proper 4 wheel alignment.

Thanks. If you need to make a choice, would you go with an indy shop with decent reputation, or a major chain for their lifetime alignment? Our cars are old. Wheel bearings, tie-rod, axle etc all might need to be worked on. So lifetime alignment sounds enticing to me.


Also I cannot FEEL any vibration. I can only hear it. For a car to make that rhythmic sound, I am not sure negative camber is responsible. Lots of guys modify their cars to have negative camber for racing or just for the look. They should not hear that kind of noise, right? That makes me thinking about wheel bearings. Is it possible the bearings were damaged during the accident?

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post #5 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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For the 60-70mph vibration, something is out of balance or out of round. Assuming the tires are balanced well and the wheels are not terribly bent (if they are, rotating the wheels should move the vibration to another corner), get yourself a Machinist's Dial Indicator (<$20 from HF) and measure the runout on the rotor and the hub face. If it's more than 2-3 thou out of round, you will have issues. I would guess it's more likely that the hub got bent than the whole knuckle.

Like I explained, all four wheels are good now and they are balanced recently. Rotors are petty new. Only 10k miles. Can you explain how hub can be bent? I guess I need to search youtube video to find a sound that sounds similar to mine. Very frustrating.

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post #6 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 01:29 PM
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... That makes me thinking about wheel bearings. Is it possible the bearings were damaged during the accident?
Sure is possible - anything severe enough to affect strut or knuckle - is certainly enough force to affect the wheel bearing.
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post #7 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 01:58 PM
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Thanks. If you need to make a choice, would you go with an indy shop with decent reputation, or a major chain for their lifetime alignment?
I have ONE guy that does my alignments at an indy shop, same guy every time. I get to talk directly with him versus a chain where it could be anyone or a guy that gets fired next week.

I've never seen a bent hub or knuckle only a broken one. A bent strut sure that's common enough.

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post #8 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Sure is possible - anything severe enough to affect strut or knuckle - is certainly enough force to affect the wheel bearing.

Okay. From alignment, camber was too negative, which means that the passenger side strut was pushed toward center line of the car. Caster was too straight, which means that the same strut was pushed toward the back of the car. Suppose the strut mounting holes are not deformed, replacing the strut should have solved these issues.


If the noise is directly related to speed, it is unlikely that camber and caster are directly responsible for the noise. It is more likely that something rotating was damaged. The wheels are balanced already. What's left are rotor, hub assembly, wheel bearings and axle. Rotor is pretty new. Since I don't experience any vibration when braking, can I rule out rotor? For three items left, seems wheel bearings is the weakest one. The next step is to verify the bearing is still good by



1. Rocking the wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock position to see any play
2. Make big turns on highway to see whether the noise shows up when right turn or left turn? It should be more obvious on left turn, right?


Anything else I should pay attention to? Thanks!

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post #9 of 37 Old 04-16-2019, 07:32 PM
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I guess it's all academic, until the vehicle is re-aligned w/ the new struts installed to verify that was the damaged component. Whoever did your last alignment appears to have modern alignment equipment, based on the report you posted. @71Corolla does bring up a good point - a smaller independent shop, even if they are not running the latest equipment (ie: can generate that fancy report) may not 'push you out the door' as quick, vs. a larger shop / chain that is doing 2-3 alignments an hour.

I'd do what @slavie recommends, move RF wheel to the back to see if vibration follows the wheel, and DIY (or have the shop do) a Dial Indicator run-out on the wheel hub, if any doubt it was damaged also. re: rotor - since you replaced it after the accident: that wouldn't be my first 'suspect' of the cause of vibration.

Making sure the caliper slide pins are free / greased / not binding, doing a 6/12 and a 3/9 wheel check for any play issues, and doing a tie rod / steering rack movement check for play wouldn't be a bad idea, and are relatively quick checks you can do.
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post #10 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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I guess it's all academic, until the vehicle is re-aligned w/ the new struts installed to verify that was the damaged component. Whoever did your last alignment appears to have modern alignment equipment, based on the report you posted. @71Corolla does bring up a good point - a smaller independent shop, even if they are not running the latest equipment (ie: can generate that fancy report) may not 'push you out the door' as quick, vs. a larger shop / chain that is doing 2-3 alignments an hour.

I'd do what @slavie recommends, move RF wheel to the back to see if vibration follows the wheel, and DIY (or have the shop do) a Dial Indicator run-out on the wheel hub, if any doubt it was damaged also. re: rotor - since you replaced it after the accident: that wouldn't be my first 'suspect' of the cause of vibration.

Making sure the caliper slide pins are free / greased / not binding, doing a 6/12 and a 3/9 wheel check for any play issues, and doing a tie rod / steering rack movement check for play wouldn't be a bad idea, and are relatively quick checks you can do.
Sure. I shall check all of them carefully when I have time. It is just that after considering all the possibilities, the bearing seems to be the most fragile one to fail.

I just finished watching some videos on how to change the bearing. Man, it is a manly man's job. How I wish that we can change the whole hub assembly by removing three bolts. What is the easiest way to do this in our Camry?

Given the difficulty, is it a good idea to pull a hole knuckle in good condition from junk yard and just put it on my car? That will make life a lot easier. Or can we buy a full knuckle with bearings and hub assembly?

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post #11 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 11:49 AM Thread Starter
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I actually can find a full knuckle with everything by Moog on RockAuto for about $200. That will save me a lot of hassle. A good quality wheel bearing and hub assembly set is about $70. If I replace the full knuckle, I can also rule out hub assembly and knuckle deformation as well. That is almost everything except for the rotor which I am very confident with.

After I replace this $200 item, it almost seems that the car has to work well. There is nothing else to fail except the strut tower, correct?

$200 sounds a lot. But I do not have to buy a press, a torch. (I do have a sliding hammer.) I am wondering whether it is a smart thing to do

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post #12 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 12:47 PM
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I actually can find a full knuckle with everything by Moog on RockAuto for about $200. That will save me a lot of hassle. A good quality wheel bearing and hub assembly set is about $70. If I replace the full knuckle, I can also rule out hub assembly and knuckle deformation as well. That is almost everything except for the rotor which I am very confident with.

After I replace this $200 item, it almost seems that the car has to work well. There is nothing else to fail except the strut tower, correct?

$200 sounds a lot. But I do not have to buy a press, a torch. (I do have a sliding hammer.) I am wondering whether it is a smart thing to do
For what it's worth, when I was in the same situation - slid off the road sideways putting high load on the wheel, had same time of vibration at 70+, especially when in long sweeping turns on the highway that side was loaded - I replaced everything but the hub and knuckle. New wheels, tires, rotors, ball joints, brake pads, calipers, wheel bearing, control arm bushings. Did not have a problem with alignment, so the issue was not tied to alignment. Every new part the vibration changed a little, but it was still there. I never measured the runout on the hub at that time because nobody suggested it.

Your issue may be different, but this was my very frustrating experience. Also, you do not need a torch to replace the wheel bearing. Finally, the bearing can be replaced in situ with this or similar, if you decide to go down that path:
https://www.harborfreight.com/front-...ers-63728.html
No press required.

Good luck!
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post #13 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Did you finally fix your problem? So all noise disappeared after you replaced the bearing?


Can you find a good youtube video on how to do this using the HF tool? By in situ, do I have to disconnect strut from knuckle, or do I have to disconnect ball joint from knuckle? If either, that will be fantastic.


But I think I will replace the hub anyway. It is 18 years old and will be further mangled when I remove the inner race from it. So just put a new one in should be fine. The whole set at RockAuto is $70. Should be a Moog hub and a National bearing. If there are better brands, please let me know. I know Timken is a popular choice for hub. Not sure about bearings. Seems SFK is a made-in-Japan brand in the old days. Not sure now. Any recommendation will be great!


I have been listening youtube bearing noise for a long while. I can hear the sound, my steering wheel is loose and when I make swiping right turn, the sound is minimal. When I make swiping left turn, the sound is more obvious. Seems to be bearing. I shall check the wheel play right now.



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Originally Posted by slavie View Post
For what it's worth, when I was in the same situation - slid off the road sideways putting high load on the wheel, had same time of vibration at 70+, especially when in long sweeping turns on the highway that side was loaded - I replaced everything but the hub and knuckle. New wheels, tires, rotors, ball joints, brake pads, calipers, wheel bearing, control arm bushings. Did not have a problem with alignment, so the issue was not tied to alignment. Every new part the vibration changed a little, but it was still there. I never measured the runout on the hub at that time because nobody suggested it.

Your issue may be different, but this was my very frustrating experience. Also, you do not need a torch to replace the wheel bearing. Finally, the bearing can be replaced in situ with this or similar, if you decide to go down that path:
https://www.harborfreight.com/front-...ers-63728.html
No press required.

Good luck!

2001 Toyota Camry 2.2L LE w/ Solara strut tower brace, Whiteline RSB, Moog links, KYB Strut Plus, Avalon 16'' wheels and 205 60 R16, 134k
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post #14 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 01:59 PM
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After I replace this $200 item, it almost seems that the car has to work well. There is nothing else to fail except the strut tower, correct?

$200 sounds a lot. But I do not have to buy a press, a torch. (I do have a sliding hammer.) I am wondering whether it is a smart thing to do
No there is still the CV Axle, and the RF axle carrier assembly in play there as well.

But do you want / or need to change them out at this point? No. ... Just something to keep in mind, -if- the vibration is still there, post-repair & alignment.

Nice! .. Actually $200 for a complete knuckle assembly, including new bearing and hub - is less than what I paid for the eBay Astro-branded "Hub Tamer" knock-off bearing puller kit, extra bearing for the forcing screw, and el' cheapo hub puller. ( "Plug-and-play" sounds very nice. .. Heck, I gotta check that out. ) .. I'd say that's pretty darn smart.

re: RF camber adjustment - there are aftermarket Camber adjustment bolts, even Toyota sells them, based on the amount of needed offset ( "1 dot / 2 dots / 3 dots" ), --- which should get that side back into spec. That's a question (discussion) for the alignment shop folks, so they have the camber bolt available, at time of alignment. The bolts are cheap, less than $10 bucks at the dealer, IIRC.
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post #15 of 37 Old 04-17-2019, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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What is RF axle carrier assembly? And what is RF camber adjustment?


I just checked that the front passenger side wheel has no play at 12 and 6 o'clock. It has a bit of cluck at 3 and 9. But the drive side front wheel is exactly the same. So I am not even sure what is going on. Anyone can explain? Even if the passenger side tie-rod is shot, the driver side should not clunk a little. I also spined both front wheels and I did not hear any special sound.

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