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Discussion Starter #1
I have an interesting problem and could use some advice/technical info. Hopefully a Toyota mechanic reads this, or someone that would know these answers. Here is my situation.

Last month, my FJ was involved in a collision. Someone pulled out in front of me on a snowy road, and I hit the brakes, and slid right into them. The impact to the FJ was the passenger side, both doors and the rear wheel. As soon as I drove home from the scene, the steering was all over the place. Something was obviously damaged in the suspension. I had a hard time keeping it going straight in the snow. The steering was very loose feeling and the entire chassis was swaying back and forth. It was dangerous to drive it.

I used the insurance company's body shop and they repaired the bodywork, but claimed to not find a problem with the alignment. I was told so many lies by this shop that I could not keep it all straight. I'll sum it up...they told me that they sent it to a Honda dealer that they partner with and had the alignment checked twice. They told me that it checked out and it must be the tires. Yes, my tires are getting old but I did not have this issue before the impact. I kept telling the shop this but they would not listen. Today, I asked them for the alignment numbers and they gave them to me. I will post it below.

I drove from the body shop when I picked it up, straight to a Toyota dealer to talk to them about it. I'm bringing it to them Monday for a diagnostic, and my insurance said that they will cover it no problem if Toyota finds crash damage. The Toyota service manager walked out to the FJ and immediately noticed that while standing behind it, you can see that the right rear wheel is toed out. It's visual to the naked eye!

In the numbers below that the Honda dealer performed, it looks to me as if the front and rear are out of range. The rear Toe appears to be way off on the right side. (the wheel that was hit) Does anyone reading this know if this toe out number is enough to cause this kind of steering instability? I know that there are other measurements too that they did not perform. I know that it's non adjustable, but it seems like I am dealing with a whole lot of incompetence here between the Honda dealer and the bodyshop. Does anyone here know enough about alignment to know if these numbers are a concern? Oh, also, the steering wheel is turned to the right when going straight now. Notice the castor on the front...I can't believe that this shop is trying to blame the tires, and refusing to listen to me.



My insurance company is working with me, but I am very frustrated over this situation. I would like as much knowledge as I can gather in this situation, that's why I'm asking you guys for help. Toyota is looking at it Monday, but I would like an expert opinions here before I take it in.
Thank you in advance! :cheers:
 

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That right rear definitely looks out of whack. Looks like something got bent. Maybe the axle housing? Bent links would throw both sides out of alignment right? A bent wheel or axle flange would cause the wheel to wobble and not always be pointed the same direction.

As long as the insurance is covering it, I'd let the dealer figure it out. If they can't get it fixed right after a few tries, talk to the insurance company about buying you a new FJ.
 

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I'd be looking at the axel housing. Mine was bent after a guy t-boned it. Drove like a roller coaster on crack. Insurance (his) paid for the repairs.
 

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I agree with snafu and brian. Bent axle housing. Keep on them. :mecry:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's definitely bent. I wanted to know if anyone could tell me what the numbers mean on the alignment sheet. Is -1.21 on the right rear toe a lot? Does this indicate a toe out? You can see that the wheel is out at the front if you stand behind the vehicle, so I'm trying to figure out if that is what these numbers are telling me.
Insurance has assured me that they will cover it, I'm just trying to get my facts in order before I go to the dealer with it tomorrow.

Thanks!
 

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out of spec toe will eat up tires with a quickness and -1.21 toe is hella out of spec. IIRC negative is toe in, with that number you should be able to spot check the RR pretty easy. it should stick out like a sore thumb, well in this case stick in (front turned in towards the cab)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I'm finally getting the problem resolved. It's been over a month and through three shops, now I just dropped it off at the fourth shop. I was referred to this shop and told that they are very good.

As soon as I took it in and showed them the alignment numbers, they immediately said that it was way out of spec. It does indicate a toe out and that is what you can visually see. The front of the wheel is way out from the rear. My insurance adjuster approved a new axle, (not used!) and it will be put on this week.

I'll back up and tell the missing part of this story so far...After I picked it up from the first horrible shop, I took it to a Toyota dealer because I figured it would be logical to take it to them and they would have the alignment specs and should be able to see the damaged axle...right? Well, I was wrong big time. They saw the alignment numbers that I brought to them, and listened to my explanaition. I even showed them that it was visually out of alignment. So, they talk me into buying new tires first thing. Then they do an alignment and tell me it's done. I go pick it up, and ask to see their alignment numbers before I even drive away. Their number show the same toe out on the rear, but they just aligned the front and said it should be fine.

I drive it away and it's still dangerous to drive. The steering is all over the place, so I go back and ask them to explain to me what they did and why they aren't fixing the problem that is so obvious! They basically say that they don't know what to do and that I should go to their bodyshop to get it on a frame rack and check out the frame. They don't even check the axle out!!

So I go to another shop who tells me immediately that my axle is damaged. Good grief, I've now been to four shops before I can find anyone who will listen to me. Two shops that did an alignment job didn't even know what the rear toe number meant!! One of those was the Toyota dealer who was happy to sell me tires and realease a vehicle that is dangerous to drive.

When it is finally fixed, I am writing a letter to each shop that I have dealt with. The multiple levels of unprofessional service is mindboggling. I am especially frustrated with the treatment from Toyota. :mofo:
 

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Sad - with all the fancy measuring machines nobody can figure out what the numbers mean.

Oh well, glad you're finally getting it fixed. You should go to that dealer and tell them you want your money and old tires back (if they were still decent). If they've already disposed of them, they should give you the new ones free or at least at a huge discount.
 

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Doesn't surprise me.
Spent 3 hours at the Toyota dealership on Saturday for a 10K (oil change/tire rotate) and a couple of warranty items that were verified on the service drive before writing it up.
In the end I got nothing done on the warranty work (no problem found) and an oil change. I was told they didn't have "time" to do the other stuff.
If I was brought in to that dealer to fix the problems I saw Saturday I would fire probably everyone I dealt with.

I blame Toyota and the dealers mostly. Toyota pushes this "express" bull**** so hard they have 2 oil monkeys working on the same car at once and neither knows what they are doing. They don't pay techs for warranty diagnosis so you get techs that don't want to spend time to fix warranty problems at all.
Dealers overpromise and underdeliver 24/7.
They hire inexperienced techs that don't have pride in their work. The japanese don't have these issues as they are educated better and have pride in their work so the double team express BS works there.

It's all a numbers game. I've worked at over a dozen dealers in my career and I haven't found one yet that was a leader in customer service and had their business together.

If I saw an alignment problem come into my shop I'd be inspecting the suspension throughly and for sure would have noticed a bad axle. The selling tires thing is just what dealer do (blame tires first) then they pull the ol' (must be the frame/accident/etc)
Idiots. .
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's too bad that it comes down to protecting the bottom line by sacrificing customer service. It's a formula that obviously works for them because the general public is uneducated about what they are buying, and what it takes to maintain it. Most of the time, they can sell services or goods because the customer doesn't know any better.

I do plan to ask for at least a partial reimbursement for the tires. Since I like to create a big file of paperwork, I have the inspection sheet from the Toyota dealer that shows that my tire tread was not out of spec yet. I plan to really drive it home that they sold me tires, then released an unsafe vehicle. I find it humorous that I had to stand face to face with the service manager, and a mechanic and tell them what the problem was, but they still didn't know what to do about it. Furthermore, they don't even know what their own alignment numbers even mean...very confidence inspiring there people.

Along this same line of thinking...I went to NAPA to buy an air filter for my FJ, and I had the guy start trying to sell me a K&N. He proceeded to tell me that it was much better performing and would improve my mileage, etc. I was persistant in telling him that I was not interested, but he continued. Then he asked if I was changing my filter on every oil change, because I needed to. It was at this point that I lost it.

I had to then explain to him that everything he was saying was very false. I explained to him that I work in Research and Development with filtration. A K&N is nothing more than a "rock catcher" and only slightly works if you keep it good and oiled. It's just a wide open media and should not be used for anything that you want to last. Race engine applications are great but not a chance in hell on my daily driver. I use K&N on my personal race engines, but that's because they are expected to be rebuilt. Furthermore, changing an air filter too soon will cause problems. Air filters become more efficient as they load up until they reach their capacity. Changing your filter on every oil change is just releasing lots of particles into the engine not only from a new unloaded media, but from the particles that get disturbed and fall into teh intake from the change over.

After I started explaining that this is what I do for a living and that he was selling something that was damaging, and had no knowledge of what he was talking about, he became very upset with me. Honestly, I tried very politely at first to decline his offer of the "high performance filter", before I started dropping the knowledge bomb.

I realize that the previously mentioned filter is popular on this board, and I do not want to engage in a debate of the benefits/ disadvantages of using said filter. Everyone is free to buy and use what they want to, and I am not here to discredit anyone's product. Don't take offense if you like this filter please! (Was that P. C. enough?)
 

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I hope you get all this straighted out. You should definitely file a complaint with Toyota on the stealership. My buddy works for SE Toyota and they do track the complaints that each dealer receives and grades them on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I hope you get all this straighted out. You should definitely file a complaint with Toyota on the stealership. My buddy works for SE Toyota and they do track the complaints that each dealer receives and grades them on it.

Really? Interesting. So, should I contact Toyota directly? I plan to write a letter to the General Manager at the dealership, but would love to also talk to Toyota directly. I didn't think of that until you posted.
 

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Along this same line of thinking...I went to NAPA to buy an air filter for my FJ, and I had the guy start trying to sell me a K&N. He proceeded to tell me that it was much better performing and would improve my mileage, etc. I was persistant in telling him that I was not interested, but he continued. Then he asked if I was changing my filter on every oil change, because I needed to. It was at this point that I lost it.
Good to know! :cheers:
 

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Along this same line of thinking...I went to NAPA to buy an air filter for my FJ, and I had the guy start trying to sell me a K&N. He proceeded to tell me that it was much better performing and would improve my mileage, etc. I was persistant in telling him that I was not interested, but he continued. Then he asked if I was changing my filter on every oil change, because I needed to. It was at this point that I lost it.

I had to then explain to him that everything he was saying was very false. I explained to him that I work in Research and Development with filtration. A K&N is nothing more than a "rock catcher" and only slightly works if you keep it good and oiled. It's just a wide open media and should not be used for anything that you want to last. Race engine applications are great but not a chance in hell on my daily driver. I use K&N on my personal race engines, but that's because they are expected to be rebuilt. Furthermore, changing an air filter too soon will cause problems. Air filters become more efficient as they load up until they reach their capacity. Changing your filter on every oil change is just releasing lots of particles into the engine not only from a new unloaded media, but from the particles that get disturbed and fall into teh intake from the change over.

After I started explaining that this is what I do for a living and that he was selling something that was damaging, and had no knowledge of what he was talking about, he became very upset with me. Honestly, I tried very politely at first to decline his offer of the "high performance filter", before I started dropping the knowledge bomb.

I realize that the previously mentioned filter is popular on this board, and I do not want to engage in a debate of the benefits/ disadvantages of using said filter. Everyone is free to buy and use what they want to, and I am not here to discredit anyone's product. Don't take offense if you like this filter please! (Was that P. C. enough?)

Great post and great advice.
 
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