Wheel alignment/Aftermarket steering wheel installation? - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Wheel alignment/Aftermarket steering wheel installation?

I received my forever sharp steering wheel awhile back.. Recently i went to a friends house (a former mechanic) for help with the installation. He recommended i have an alignment done before the steering install .. i went in for an alignment and the shop informed me that my lower and upper ball joints were bad preventing them to do the alignment .. They quoted a 350$ repair along with the alignment (and extra 50$).. that got me thinking all i wanted was the damn steering wheel installed thats it! money's a lil tight right now so question is can i just install the steering wheel now and get the alignment later? TIA
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 05:43 AM
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Absolutely! Nothing wrong with installing the other steering wheel and do the other stuff later. Wheel only connects 1 way and the alignment shop can center it during alignment if it's off a little.

However, if the BJs are bad, you may want to consider getting those done as soon as you can.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 07:48 AM
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Agree completely with the reply above - the only relation between the wheel and any adjustable parts of the front suspension involving alignment begin with an entirely nonadjustable shaft, and end up with the connection at the tie-rod ends. It would be just as logical to recommend getting an alignment after changing your horn fuse.

There are numerous things about your post that raise question, compelling comment. I'm quizzical why your mechanic friend would recommend an alignment in the first place. Is there something otherwise he noticed about the condition of the rest of the suspension that prompted his recommendation?

Next, what kind of shop did you go to for your alignment quote? A tire or brake or exhaust chain? A real mechanic shop? An alignment specialty only shop? It's important which type. Most shops really hate old cars with dino alignment adjustments like ours and that $50 quote will NEVER NEVER get you more than a rudimentary toe-n-go, ---- which you can dam near do in your driveway with easily purchased equipment. Did the shop visually show you up on the lift their method of testing for bad BJs? You will never get a shop willing to undertake camber/caster real alignment for that price, even if they happen to have the required equipment --- unless of course they charge $15 per added shim. Any shop thinking they can actually perform a full alignment at that price is probably unaware of the correct process and will bugger up things to the point of needing major repair afterward. And by a different shop.

Now, the ONLY way to "upgrade" your work-order is to allege that you have 4 out of 4 bad BJs, which is statistically improbable unless you have other very severe issues, which brings us back to your mechanic friend's initial thoughts. You don't give how long you've had the car to document its history and use, and you don't give mileage to gauge the life expectancy of these type of parts. But, upper BJs seldom give out for a couple hundred thou miles, and even lowers last quite long with periodic lube. The odds of both of the lowers needing replacement at the same time is nil to none. If you needed all 4 BJs, or even any two, you'd be noticing handling difficulties, vibrations, noises.....

So bottomline: 1. Does your car drive just fine now? 2. Ask your friend why he recommended an alignment. 3. Avoid that shop.

And pardon me, - I'm on the 2nd coffee and just getting wound up.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 08:45 AM
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your friend a former repair tech should check out your ball joints. in today's world there are techs out there that don't know how to check ball joints on these vehicles.

a ball joint may have a slight amount of movement that is no big deal.

to check jack up on the lower control arm so you can place a 3-4 ft steel bar under the tire . then you pry up wards as the other hand is on the top of the tire and you feel for any popping ..no popping no ball joint issues.

on these vehicles the front wheel bearings could be a little loose on the wheel bearing nut or the wheel bearing may be needing replacing. I re-pack the front wheel bearings every 30K miles.

to adjust this nut you torque the nut to 10ft lbs then back the nut off until it is loose then you tighten the nut to the next cotter pin slot with a pliers not a wrench so it is snug but not too tight .. then check for the wheel to spin freely and it does not have any wobble.

if the steering wheel now is straight going down the road does not pull , tire wear is even then just put on the new wheel as the old was placed.

also you can use fishing line running from the rear tires to front tires see that the front tires are perfectly parallel to each other . with the steering wheel centered. do this after the new wheel is installed see it is set the same as old.

Last edited by j cat; 10-27-2016 at 08:50 AM.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 08:57 AM
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there appears to be a trend now that free alignment shops are looking for repair work so they tell owners they need all the ball joints replaced ... its a scam when they say all the ball joints are worn .

I just had my impala at the inspection station guy said my ball joints were worn . I just agreed with him and stated I will fix it. checked it all out nothing was worn. I also did not instruct him on how he improperly checked the ball joints LOL !

just put on that passed sticker .

I grease and inspect these front end components every 6 months fall and spring its all perfect.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 12:14 PM
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Get your Suspension taken care of and keep this in mind when it comes time for an Alignment.....

https://www.impalassforum.com/vBulletin/17-suspension/353193-shim-less-society.html

I had to check around at a few shops and verify that their Techs were even familiar with how to align my car. This is a much older technology compared to most of the vehicles they see. Don't be afraid to politely ask if they are familiar with your car and how to align her.

On another note, also ask them if they have Shims, cause I was shocked to find out of the 4 or 5 shops I talked to, no one had any and had to buy my own as mentioned above. Which reminds me, good idea to pick up 4 new nuts that secure the Upper Control Arms to the frame and are typically good for a use or 2. they loose their effectiveness to hold, back off and then you loose the shims along with your alignment. Last time I did, I just picked up the correct nuts at the Dealer.

BTW - If you do have to replace the BJ's, consider that the other pieces are also in need of attention. It may be best to pickup a kit that includes new Idler Arm (This is known to cause problems anyway), Center Link and Tie rod ends with sleeves. Along with that, new bushings would be a good idea as well but this just keeps adding to your repair bill. Sorry about spending your money like that, but with the age and mileage most likely high, you will notice a much tighter feel in the car if you do all of this. Be sure to also stick with high quality parts like Moog or Proforged only....DON'T go cheap on the parts. There are cheaper parts out there but they are JUNK!!!

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'95 Caprice SS conversion - Bonny Buckets - 96 Column, Shifter and Console - 3.73 Gear and Herter tune - Z/28 Cluster - Blazer OH Console - Green/Pink bushings - Chromed Impala Wheels - Eibach Springs and Bilstein Shocks - Corvette Engine Dress - the list goes on and still more to do...it never ends.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 03:49 PM
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You can buy a magnetic adapter camber/caster gauge on ebay for about the cost of an alignment. Once you have used it, you get the next one for free. All you need is a level parking lot to check the camber/caster. The FSM gives you the specs and shim changes to make it right in one step. It only takes about 30 minutes to do the alignment yourself. I also made a set of toe gauges out of aluminum angle stock, some bolts, end caps for the bolts, pop rivets, a two springs and two tape measures.


The easiest and cheapest front end job is to order the upper and lower MOOG loaded arms from Rock Auto, and swap them out. It will change the toe, so plan on setting the toe.


Shims are cheap, and you can get them individually from NAPA.


Installing the wheel has nothing to do with the alignment. Make sure the hole for the horn connector aligns with the one on the column and the wheel will be in the correct place. You may find that there is interference with the clock spring tabs on the inside of the column bezel. You can remove them, because you will remove the clockspring. You also need to put a 2 ohm 10 watt resistor across the airbag connector (yellow) under the dash. The resistor value is imperative. I cut a pigtail off of the clockspring, and made a plug-in connector for the resistor.

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For a parts list, check https://www.impalassforum.com/vBulle...ion-parts.html
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 06:52 PM
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before you touch that steering wheel disconnect the battery ground and short out the removed cables..

YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE THAT AIR BAG BLOW IN YOUR FACE.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-27-2016, 09:27 PM
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The airbag has a safety bar that crosses the leads when the connector is removed. It is recommended to disconnect the battery for about 3 minutes before working on the airbag, but I have never had one go off while removing it. Mine are long gone, so I do not worry about them anymore. As long as nobody bumps the car at the sensors, you should be OK, but I will go with the FSM when giving instructions to someone else.

1991 OCC 461 (.030 over 454) BBC, 3.23 posi, flash to pass, drop spindles & springs, Impala rims, Hydroboost, Recaros, MOMO/wood SW w/QR, custom wood shift knob, Pioneer DEH P77DH
1992 OCC now with 5.7 tbi, DEH P77DH
For a parts list, check https://www.impalassforum.com/vBulle...ion-parts.html
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-28-2016, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate your well informed reply. I'm sorry I forgot to mention the current mileage on the car. It currently has 63k miles on it, I too found it weird when they told me the BJ'S were completely worn. The car hasn't been driven much prior to me buying it.
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