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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I installed lower control arms. Went to two VW dealers for alignment. They couldn’t do camber alignment.
One said the problem is the steering knuckle, the other said subframe has to be moved. (And he didn’t know about the alignment holes smh!)
Attached are before and after from two dealers.
The car is slightly pulling to right.
 

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Theoretically the front end has only toe-in and toe-out adjustment, however moving the subframe will change the camber angles. Caster angle is completely dependent on the integrity of the upper and lower control arm bushings and ball joints.
If camber angle cannot be adjusted you need to start looking at other things. Bushings and ball joints on the upper and lower control arms, wheel bearings and finally sub-frame bushings and sub-frame position. The slightest slop in the wheel bearings will produce more of a negative number on the camber values. For example: .002" of wheel bearing play will net you approx .12 degrees more of a negative camber on a 16" wheel.
Unless you have 'upgraded' to the aluminum steering knuckle I have a hard time believing the original cast iron knuckle is the problem. Not impossible but not probable.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you Andreas.

1-)The car started to pull to right after I replaced the right lower front control arm.

Before, it drove dead straight with the old original control arms.

2-) I had to loosen the rear subframe bolts to wiggle out the control arm. Also I had to replace the right bracket that holds the sway bar. So I had to replace all the bolts.

Question: should I loosen the rear bolts as well as the front to adjust the subframe using the dowel pins in the holes?
 

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Thank you Andreas.

1-)The car started to pull to right after I replaced the right lower front control arm.

Before, it drove dead straight with the old original control arms.
OK, so it drove straight before. That's good.


2-) I had to loosen the rear subframe bolts to wiggle out the control arm. Also I had to replace the right bracket that holds the sway bar. So I had to replace all the bolts.

Question: should I loosen the rear bolts as well as the front to adjust the subframe using the dowel pins in the holes?

Actually what I would do...
Try finding an Indy mechanic that is willing to listen to you and tell him your story exactly as you've done here and see if he will monkey around with the sub-frame for you.
With all the alignment apparatus hooked up to the car, he can tweak the sub-frame as needed to get the desired results.

I forgot to mention before, the (3) bolts on top of the strut tower that hold in the strut assembly, those bolts can be loosened to tweak the numbers just a bit if needed. This only gives finite adjustment values. but sometimes that's all that is needed to be within spec.

All of the stuff I've mentioned was done on my 2004 GLX. When I pulled the engine/trans the first time, I removed the sub-frame for inspection purposes and it needed just a hair of adjustment to get the numbers to come into spec.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I found a pair of adjustable upper control arms in the junk yard. I can easily install new bushings in them. Would they solve the camber issue?
 

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I found a pair of adjustable upper control arms in the junk yard. I can easily install new bushings in them. Would they solve the camber issue?
Yes they will.

Depending on what shop you go to, they might charge you extra for an enhanced, performance, advanced or whatever they want to call it.
Just keep in mind that not all places will be able to deal with those adjustable uppers. Do your homework and check to make sure the shop can handle that type of alignment and make sure they are a reputable shop.

When I put the SPC uppers on 2004 GLX it took a while to find someone that would do it, and then the shop that did it, took them (2) times to get it right.
 

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Looking at the first results, your camber is not that far off. Shifting the subframe should be able to center it. I would try AP’s suggestion without adjustable upper arms, because I think the pull is solvable without them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you Andreas.
I think I am going to adjust the subframe myself. The mechanics at those dealers didn’t even know there were aligament holes. So honestly I don’t trust them. I will take the car to a competent VW indyshop for alignment after I adjust the subframe.
Question: am I supposed to loosen the rear subframe bolts too in order to align the holes?
Also. I saw in a video that the VW lug wrench fits right in the holes for alignment as opposed to buying the special VW pins for 60$.
I have two lug wrenches.
 

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Doing this without all the measuring apparatus on the wheels makes it a big guess, that's why I mentioned just letting the front end tech handle it.
But if you want to give it a shot here are some guesstimates.

Yes you'll have to loosen all 4 bolts on the sub-frame, but not much just enough to move by prying on it. You don't want it to move when you tighten it down.
Based on your readings from the reports you'll need shift the sub-frame towards the passengers side of the car. It won't take much so it'll be a guess. By my rough calculations, you need to move it about .100" (just shy of an 1/8") towards the passengers side.
If you poke the lug wrenches into the alignment holes you should be able to see if what I say is accurate or not. If the sub-frame is out of alignment by 1/8" you'll be able to see that when inserting the lug wrenches into the alignment holes.
 

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Thank you brother. So do you think the values are not that off to create a pull to right?
Not saying it won't cause a pull to the right, doesn't take much for that to happen.
What's your toe-in toe-out at? That can cause a pull to either side also.
 

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I'm betting the farm that if you/your alignment tech tweaks that sub-frame just a bit and dials in that toe-in toe-out you should be good to go.
As long as all your other bushing and ball joints have good integrity you should be able to have this resolved relatively easy. With that being said I'll stand by my statement above.
 
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...
Also. I saw in a video that the VW lug wrench fits right in the holes for alignment as opposed to buying the special VW pins for 60$.
I have two lug wrenches.
I used my 14mm deep sockets with a long extension. It fits, both Craftsmen and Kolbalt brands.
 

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I used my 14mm deep sockets with a long extension. It fits, both Craftsmen and Kolbalt brands.
Many a people have done that also. Depending on what brand you have the sockets are different sizes, but all work just as effectively as any VW VAG tool costing big coin.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update:

I called the VW dealer I took my car to that the alignment is no good, the after values are worse than those before and the car till is pulling to right. Having called three times on different days, left my number, I could't get hold of the service manager, whom i was going to ask for a refund. It was evident that they were avoiding me. So, I reached out to VW America and complained. They took it very seriously. Finally, Mr. Ben, the service manager, called me and told me that they did toe alignment so it should look ok. I explained to him that camber values are now worse and they needed to align the subrfame through the alignment holes, about which Mr. Michael, the mechanic, had never heard before. He asked if i could bring my car to them for subframe alignment. I kindly refused saying that I am not comfortable with anyone there touching my car as I am not sure they are equipped with knowledge to do any kind of work on it. He said he understands me.
Thanks to VW America, I got my $110 back today.
 

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FWIW, this is how we use to align my racecar when I had it (1978 Pontiac Firebird). If any of it can be adapted to do what you need, feel free.


  • First you need a level spot, preferably concrete
  • Sweep it off and pull the car straight on.
  • Get some cotton twine and 4 anchor points to tie it to (we used concrete blocks or jack stands)
  • set your anchor points at the 4 corners of the car, 2 a couple of feet in front, and 2 a couple of feet behind
  • Tie the strings to the anchor points, running parallel to the sides of the car. I would recommend setting the strings near the height of the items you want to adjust.
  • (The most time consuming part)Find points on the car that are symmetrical on the left and right side and measure out to your strings. The goal is to get the strings perfectly parallel with both the car and each other. Find body points, dead center of the wheels, and measure line to line at the front & rear of the vehicle. Adjust the anchor points to get them an equal distance from the car and perfectly parallel to the car. When finished you should have the same measurements at the front and back, along with on each side at equivalent points (rear center Left wheel to rear center right wheel, etc) Once the strings are set up, Put up the dogs and small children, & Do Not Trip over them, or you will be repeating this.

The strings become a reference point to measure points you intend to move on the front end, We would use the strings to set the toe end. I had a tool that went on the front hub that would tell me Camber. My thinking that if you might be adapt this by setting the front on jack stands with the sub frame unloaded and the tires off the car, you can loosen the sub frame and use the strings to center it. It might be more work than you want to do, however, lol
 
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