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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 03-20-2011, 11:30 AM   #1
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Proper alignment procedure. OEM wheels needed?

I searched on two forums and couldn't come up with an answer to my question. What is the proper procedure for doing an alignment on our cars? Specifically wheels. A local shop told me that I have to have my OEM 17s on my car in order to have the alignment done properly. Is this true? Must I remount my OEM wheels or can I get an alignment with my 19s on?

Also just to double check and list it out for others, the proper procedure is (correct or add if I'm wrong):

Full tank of gas
67 kg in front seats, seats in center positions
67 kg in center of rear seat
25 kg in center of trunk

anything else?

Last edited by CokMinusTheS54; 03-20-2011 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 03-20-2011, 11:44 AM   #2
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I had to sit and give this some thought. OEM specs give the exact camber/caster needed for the wheel to sit parallel to the road with suspension/weight. It's possible that changing the wheel size and weight would make it difficult to give a proper fitment... I'm not sure what size tires you are using but generally the tire diameter decreases with an increase of wheel size so there is zero net change in overall size. Weight is a different story.

On the other hand, even if they don't have a spec sheet to go by they normally have leveling equipment fitted to each wheel to determine how it sits with all weight/suspension applied - so if it's still sitting too far one way, they should simply be able to adjust it in the opposite direction to even it out.

Long story short, I would bring it to a more upscale shop - preferably a dealership - with more sophisticated equipment. They should just be able to punch in the specs and align from there...
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Last edited by viceversa; 03-20-2011 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 03-20-2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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Hmm I sort of follow what you are saying, however the guy mentioned it was due to tolerances being much less forgiving with the larger wheels. That they would have to be "more precise." That the stock 17s would be easier to get within spec. I kind of got the drift from him that it was harder with the larger wheels because they had to be more accurate and precise in doing the alignment (more metal = less play?).

He quoted me $140-180 to do the alignment so I'll take it elsewhere anyways.
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:17 PM   #4
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I have 19's on my 325ci. I took mine with the 19's to a firestone shop and had it aligned. The highest spec they could pull up on the computer was for 18's. They got it in spec for them and I have had no problems with irregular wear. I had 2 options on payment... A one time alignment for around 70 or pay 140 for lifetime. I opted to go with the lifetime. I decided on this so if I ever upgrade my suspension they can adjust it and I don't have to pay. I take my car there at least 3 times a year. I figure that I paid for it why not use it. I realize that it nay be overkill but the tech recommended at least to do it twice a year. I also get a printout of before and after specs so I can compare what they did. I also keep all the specs to compare to how off they get. At firestone you can go to any one of their shops and they pull your info up from your phone number. I just didn't like the idea of paying once and being stuck with what they did. What if the tech was lazy and just did a half as~ed job, I would not be able to get it redone, this way they have to do it right or I could just come back and make them do it again... Just my 2 cents :-)
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:03 AM   #5
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I think if their alignment rack measures the angles of your wheels, then wheel size shouldn't matter. But if they measure the distance between the front or back edges of the wheels to determine toe-in/toe-out, then wheel size does matter. So ask if they're entering toe specs in degrees or in inches.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:15 PM   #6
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wtf, most places go by angles wheel size shouldnt matter. trust me theyre probably giving you sh1t, i got quoted 180 for an alignment because i had 19s and they're "more difficult to align on the machine," take it somewhere else
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:21 PM   #7
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I got quoted 220 for an alignment because my wheels are satin black and it's a soft finish, so they have to use special tools.

I said "Your mother has a soft finish, and I used a special tool on her also."
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CokMinusTheS54 View Post
Also just to double check and list it out for others, the proper procedure is (correct or add if I'm wrong):

Full tank of gas
67 kg in front seats, seats in center positions
67 kg in center of rear seat
25 kg in center of trunk

anything else?
I would just bring it in for alignment in the state the car is driven in 97% of the time... with 205lbs in the drivers seat.

What's the point of aligning your car to a state it's rarely in?
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