Sydneys Northern Beaches is a vast and diverse section of Sydney and no automotive blogger is required to inform you of this. With the large and beautiful section of the city we possess comes a plethora of businesses and with that a large chunk of healthy competition. Any industry is kept competitive by the offer of a competitor making the product or service in question, better, cheaper, more efficient or more easily accessible.
The same applies for the automotive industry, literally hundreds of mechanical workshops speckle the map of the Northern Beaches. Not quite as frequently located, but still with a healthy amount of competition, are the wheel and tyre shops. Everything from franchise chains to independently owned tyre shops, down to many small mechanical workshops have their own tyre and wheel alignment equipment. There are a few hundred locations on the Northern Beaches alone where you can land yourself a set of tyres of any chosen quality and a wheel alignment.
The quality and pricing of tyres is a subject for an entirely different blog post but today we intend to address the wheel alignment component. Firstly lets establish what exactly we are talking about.
The wheel alignment is adjustment of the vehicles steering and suspension components, these components allow the angles of the tyres to change. If these angles are out by even a fraction of a millimetre the result is nearly always premature tyre wear.
There are three main adjustments for a vehicle (there are some exceptions to this) they are camber, caster and toe. In many modern vehicles these adjustments can be made to both the rear and the front suspension making up to twelve points of adjustment.
When done correctly the vehicle will wear tyres evenly, handle and behave as intended and give you maximum tyre life. To do these correctly from scratch often requires a highly skilled technician several hours, this is why some wheel alignment quotes can be in the hundreds.
Why then is there such a vast difference in pricing for a wheel alignment from shop to shop? Some shops offer the wheel alignment for free with tyre purchases, some ask a price around thirty dollars and some of the racing professionals quote in excess of $400 for an alignment.
Many shops will not bother with the many adjustments that we previously mentioned. Its not uncommon practice to make sure the car drives straight and adjust toe only. By doing this several alignments can be completed within an hour maximising profits. This method of alignment is nicknamed a “toe and go” in the trade. That should be an eye opener for you, something happens often enough for it to have a nick name.
With such a fluctuation in price we advise buyer beware. Pricing that sounds to good to be true or those of you who like to shop around for the cheapest price under the belief that the four hours of your time you have wasted has somehow saved you $40 is incorrect on so many levels. Firstly whats your time worth? The time you have spent shopping around could have been spent far more constructively, but more importantly the cheap wheel alignment is likely to be a “toe and go” and will chop your new tyres out in a matter of months and you will have to spend hundreds on the tyres again in a few short months time.
On unmodified standard family vehicles this job done properly should cost you around the $100 mark. If you’re paying less than that or it takes less than an hour to do then we advise getting a second opinion.