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Yippee
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I stumbled across several comments from Altima owners who said that their car wanders all over the road, especially on the freeway. “It ain’t just me!” I thought since my car (2015) was new (1,800 miles) it was just the squirrely winter tires that I put on that was causing the drift. Having some alignment experience, I can figure out that the factory toe-in setting is just too conservative, so the setting needs to be more positive. I made a slight adjustment in my garage, and the problem is solved: no more drift on the freeway, even with the squirrely tires. (For those of you familiar with steering, I turned both of the inner tie rods ½ turn out, which makes the tie rod assembly longer. For those who don’t understand, see a wheel alignment specialist to make this adjustment.) The possible downside to this adjustment is increased outer shoulder wear on the front tires, so I will monitor tire wear closely for the next 1,000 miles to see if I have adjusted too much.
 

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I noticed a little wandering as well when I first got my 2014, but within a few months the tires seemed to bed-in and the car tracks very straight now. It also seemed to take a month or two for my new winter tires to bed-in as well.

Before I bought the Altima I test drove both the 2014 Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. If you think the Altima was bad initially, these cars are just plain scary at highway speeds. Their power steering has no neutral or center position and the slightest touch on the wheel sends you to either side of your lane or into the shoulder.
 

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Since I recently lowered my 14 s model and had it alligined I have been commenting to my self how well it drives on the freeway hardly keep 1 finger on the wheel, dident realize before that it did wonder until this change
 

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Altimer
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824 Posts
^^ Completely agree. Doing your own alignment is a bad idea especially adjusting the toe. Unless you have an unlimited budget for tires, get your alignment checked properly.
 

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Yippee
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Day 2 after adjustment: driving the car on the freeway in a heavy crosswind was remarkably stable.
Incidentally, I have several years of professional alignment experience and fifty years of driving. Adjusting the tie rods one-half turn will not produce any radical change in the toe setting and should not produce any dramatic tire wear.
As for taking it to the dealer, I suffered through many months with a new Sentra which ate the tires in 8,000 miles; two separate Nissan service departments told me, "they're all like that, we can't adjust it", and I had to go to arbitration with Nissan. The Sentra finally got fixed when I took it to an independent wheel alignment specialist, which I suggested for the non-DIYers. The specialist will typically charge around $300 for a four wheel alignment, and if you have an existing tire wear problem, that is money well spent. The advice I gave was for those with a drifting problem only. And if getting a little advanced tire wear keeps me out of the ditch, that is also money well spent.
 

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Altimer
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Making this suggestion to an inexperienced forum reader is a possible disaster. If you're experienced, great, regardless, do this at your own risk and to the risk of your expensive tires.
 

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Yippee
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Dear forum readers: if you are not competent enough to change out your brake pads, or replace your battery, or an alternator belt, DO NOT attempt to make this adjustment to your toe setting. Take your car to a professional alignment shop. If you ARE competent enough to do the above repairs, the toe setting procedure is simpler and potentially less dangerous if screwed up than the above tasks.
That being said, I did some simple trig calculations and came up with the following potential change to the alignment based on my suggestion:
1. Tie rod thread is M14 x 1.5, so turning the tie rod 1/2 turn would move the wheel 0.75mm outward at the point of adjustment (tie rod centerline).
2. Radius of the 215/60/16 (stock) tire is 332.195mm (this is the point of rotation, center of the wheel).
3. Point of 0.75mm adjustment (tie rod knuckle) is 200mm from the O.D. of the tire, so you end up with a triangle of 132.195 (adjacent side) and 0.75 (opposite side). To find the angle change you divide the opposite by the adjacent, and the result is .006 degrees per wheel, times 2 (left and right wheels adjusted), for a total toe angle change of 0.012 degrees. The alignment specs for most FWD cars allow plus or minus 0.020 degrees, so this adjustment is very conservative.
 
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