Thrust Angle Questions ? - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thrust Angle Questions ?

Hi All - Didn't see anything regarding this in my searches so hopefully it hasn't been covered already.

I finally got my 285s installed at my local Firestone on Wednesday and went to go pick up the X after work. I made a point to give them the SPC installation instructions that detail how to align the front and keep the ball joints as far as possible from the CB. Not shockingly, they completely disregarded those instructions and my ball joints are as far inward as they can possibly get. Luckily I grinded back the CBs so it's not an issue.

Now to the heart of the question: They let me know that my thrust angle is out of spec (I looked everywhere and can't seem to find what the actually OEM specs are for thrust angle on our trucks) and right now it's sitting at -.3*. They tried to blame it on the adjustable shackles that I installed in the rear a few weeks back and somehow that threw off the angle. I keep all of the alignment papers they give me and back in early June (before any rear suspension changes) it was at -.29* so I know nothing I've done has caused the thrust angle to be off.

Am I crazy to think all they need to do on the alignment machine is to loosen the rear u-bolts to get the thrust angle as close to zero and re-torque before they start doing anything with the front suspension? I don't see how they can consider what they do a full alignment if they don't touch the rear of our truck at all to ensure it's in spec before aligning the front. Maybe I'm not understanding it fully?

My plan is to schedule and appointment with the 4 Wheel Parts store in town and have them do a full alignment to ensure thrust angle is in spec & that the SPC arms are actually aligned per the manufacture instructions. I know it won't be cheap but I'd rather have it done right this time.

Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 12:17 PM
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Most places won't adjust the rear if there's not a part that's designed to be adjustable. The rear of our Xterras don't have an adjustable rear end, so if they charged you for a four wheel alignment instead of a two wheel, you need to say something to them about over charging.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-22-2018, 10:51 AM
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You'll find that the more parts you add that technically should enable a great alignment the worse your alignments will get. Almost all of the shop are only adjusting toe, camber and caster are foreign concepts to them. I can't tell you how much time I've wasted explaining to different shops that I have adjustable cam bolts, UCA's that can be adjust for camber and caster, torque specs, etc. just to walk away with nothing changed on the UCA or LCA and just toe adjusted. It takes time to find a good shop and 4 wheel parts alignment quality varies a lot by location, I'd try to find some solid reviews of the place first to make sure you don't get Firestoned again.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-22-2018, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battousaited View Post
Most places won't adjust the rear if there's not a part that's designed to be adjustable. The rear of our Xterras don't have an adjustable rear end, so if they charged you for a four wheel alignment instead of a two wheel, you need to say something to them about over charging.

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Had the same issue with a local fire stone on my golf. they ONLY do 4 wheel alignments (even if there is nothing to align). They just don't tell you about it when you bring it in, even when you say "I only want a front wheel alignment", then you get the 100+ bill. Of course they woudln't do anything about it, I called corporate, who still wouldn't do anything, but I did let them know what complete and total pieces of poo they are. and I'll make sure they never get mine, any friends, or any of my car club associates business again.

Unless you have the "life time" alignment thing from them (which they never seem to offer around here), it just isn't worth it to go to them. Like you mentioned, they completely disregarded the SPC instructions (not surprised either). I ended up taking my Xterra to the place that always has done my Z (they have a lowered miata shop car which is why I went there, since no one could ever get my lowered Z into camber specs). I felt reassured when they were doing another lifted 4x4. I'd rather pay $85 every time to know it's done correctly.

You can also do the brutal alignment yourself and get it close on the most, but as mentioned, nothing in the rear.
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Last edited by ZheKing; 10-22-2018 at 04:51 PM.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-22-2018, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I have the lifetime alignment from Firestone and up until now it hasn't been an issue since I didn't have the adjustable cam bolts in and had the stock UCAs. Fortunately I didn't "pay" them this time around for the alignment since I have the lifetime, I only ended up paying for the tire install which is nice in retrospect.

Am I correct in assuming that a legitimate alignment shop would be able to fix my thrust angle issues? In my mind all it would take is loosening the ubolts in the rear while the truck is on the alignment rack and getting the readings close to 0° and re-torquing the ubolts to spec.

I'm planning to stop by a few shops around town this week and tell them exactly what I need done and hopefully find a place that won't charge an arm and a leg for it.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-22-2018, 04:01 PM
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I would think the ideal thrust angle would be 0 degrees. At my last alignment it registered at -.12. If yours is really that off I'd lean more towards it being worn out leaf pack bushings, shackle bushings, or a broken leaf pack center pin allowing the axle to shift.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-22-2018, 09:41 PM
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^^this. Look underneath at your leaf pack center pins. Might have a broken one. I’ve seen it happen to 2 Xterra buddies.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2018, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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It's strange because it was at -0.29° at the beginning of June when I got my last alignment and they didn't say anything about it. All I had at that point was the DAAL from PRG without shims installed (installed for little over a year at that point). Fast forward to end of September this year and I just installed the shims with new center pins from advance auto (standard 3/8" x 5" bolts) along with the adjustable shackles & bilsteins and this recent alignment had me at -0.3° so I know the center pins are fine and -.01° isn't a huge change after completely changing around the rear suspension. I also can't wrap my head around the 0.2° it would take to get the thrust angle back closer to spec. In my mind it's just loosening the ubolts with the truck up on an alignment rack and messing with the axle to get it centered and aligned with the frame but maybe there's something more to it than I'm thinking of.

All I can chalk it up to is that my driveway isn't perfectly level (slight downhill and slight decline left to right so I back into the driveway to work on the rear) so trying to get the rear axle back on the leafs is a difficult one man job and I'm sure I don't get it perfectly straight before torquing the ubolts down.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2018, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Update:

Talked with the guy at my local 4 Wheel Parts store and he confirmed my suspicions that I did indeed get "Firestoned". I have an appointment next Tuesday to fix my woes and was assured that fixing thrust angle and actually aligning the front suspension correctly isn't rocket science. I know this alignment won't be cheap but I'll be happy knowing it was done correctly.

Moral of the story: Firestone is great for the simple alignments I would get before adjustable cam bolts & suspension upgrades and I wouldn't hesitate to take a DD there because the lifetime alignment is a great deal BUT if you're looking for quality and confidence in your off-road/exploration rig - you get what you pay for. Lesson learned
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