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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know I tend to start a lot of threads, but I guess that's the side effect of owning a previously neglected VW.

I already know my alignment is off in the front because of the pulling to the right. If you center the steering wheel, the car drifts to the right slightly but if I let go of the wheel, it pulls to the right much harder. It makes highway travel tiring, but not the end of the world. But I noticed the other day that both of the rear wheels are facing inward (towards the center of the car) noticeably (I think that's toe, correct me if I'm wrong). All of the rear tires are pretty worn already and I haven't noticed any horrible wear in the rear but it looks concerning.

I've read a couple threads of people who took their car for an alignment and gotten it back with no change or had the shop make an excuse for why they didn't actually do the alignment. Avoiding that sounds nice, so just having information about this would be helpful.

Thanks in advance
 

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When you say the rear wheels are facing inwards, do you mean the tops of the tires are closer together than where they contact the road, or that the front edges are closer together than the rear edges?

If you have a smooth concrete area available, such as a home garage or empty parking garage, you can easily get an idea of the Toe-in alignment situation yourself. What you need is just some string or a length of small, flexible wire, jack-stands, and a measuring device such as a digital caliper. This works for either front or back wheels.

What I do is drive slowly towards my "test area", steering wheel centered, then shift to neutral and stop with the emergency brake only. Starting at one side of the car, place a jack-stand ahead of the front wheel and the other one behind the rear wheel, such that a string stretched between each of them just misses touching the sides of both tires, by roughly the same distance. You may need to place some weight on the stands so they don't tip towards each other as you pull on one of them to tighten the string, which should be at axle-level. At the front wheel, measure the distance from the string, say the inner side of the string, to the outermost part of the wheel rim. Do this at the front, and back, of the rim. The difference between these two measurements can be converted to degrees-of-Toe by also knowing the diameter of the rim, but as a rule-of-thumb, the front-edge measurement should be larger than the rear-edge measurement, but only by say 1/16" inch or less. This is what I do with my B6 A4; actually I set the Toe to zero, and have normal tracking and no tire wear issues. The rear wheels on that Quattro also have a camber adjustment, which I set with a similar method, using a carpenter's square.
 

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If the car is pulling to the right that hard, you most likely have either a bend rear lower control arm or a bad tire. Try swapping the tires in front before anything. There are many places that do a free alignment check, if your numbers look good and the tire swap does not fix the problem, it's most likely the rear lower control arm. You will not be able to see a bend (unless you hit a curb), but it can cause a terrible pull even with good alignment numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well I put a new set of wheels on yesterday (accompanied by a nice set of tires) and a lot of the pulling is gone. While some remains, it's not a chore to drive on the freeway anymore. The driver's side front tire was destroyed. The inside edge of the tire (closest to engine) was completely bald, indicating some bad negative camber. Car is scheduled for an alignment next week so I guess we'll see what the numbers are.
 
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