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Discussion Starter #1
In the days after I had the dealer add washers and tighten the axle bolts (very high torque) I noticed the steering wheel naturally wanted to rest a few degrees turned to the right at any speed. I took it back to the dealer and they say nothing in the axle bolt repair would cause the steering wheel to be out of alignment. They said the wheel alignment was perfect which I had verified by a chain automotive shop. The front rims look fine with some minor curb scratches and peeling paint that is common for those wheels. The runs smooth and the car doesn't seem to pull either direction so its doesn't seem like anything is dragging the car to one side or the other, just he steering heel is misaligned.

They even switched the front wheels and it still behaves the same which is puzzling. I suggested putting the rear tires in front but they said that wouldn't make a difference either. I also suggested pulling wheels from a used Volt on their lot but they don't have any used volts..

I am I off base thinking the axle bolt repair could have caused the misalignment? Did the electronic steering somehow get messed up? I am going to have my Indy look at the front rims without telling him which rim is suspect to see if sees a bent rim.


Any comments, ideas, or similar experiences appreciated.


2012 Volt Black
CU51xx - 73K miles
 

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Years ago, I got my BMW 535i aligned, and it pulled to the left. I took it back and they claimed it was perfect and wouldn't do anything about it. I took it home, checked all 4 corners, and it turns out I had a broken spring where the two spring pieces sat on each other with friction only. Needless to say, I've never returned to Beaumont Alignment (they've lost my business for life) and I went ahead and installed new springs, struts, tie rods and control arms.

I worry that torquing your wheels very tight might warp your rotors. Any of these items could cause the car to veer a particular direction.

In fact on an older Deville, it was rear control links with worn bushings that caused the rear end to waggle.
 

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The [car?] runs smooth and the car doesn't seem to pull either direction so its doesn't seem like anything is dragging the car to one side or the other, just he steering heel is misaligned.
In the old days, you could merely lift the steering wheel from the splines on the shaft, shift it one spline to the left and lock it back in place with the nut. Can you no longer do that?
 

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The alignment tech can turn one tie rod in a bit, and one tie rod out a bit to center the steering wheel. Also if a Volt has a slight pull, which the op is not describing, put a tire with more tread on the opposite front corner. The increased rolling resistance will negate the pull.
 

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The alignment tech can turn one tie rod in a bit, and one tie rod out a bit to center the steering wheel. Also if a Volt has a slight pull, which the op is not describing, put a tire with more tread on the opposite front corner. The increased rolling resistance will negate the pull.
Correct about the tie rods - that will fix the position of the steering wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the replies. I did suggest to the service manager that a slight tie rod adjustment is worth a try but he didn't buy it. I am going to talk to him again this morning.
 

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I had the clicking noise when accelerating or decelerating. They put the washers on and I assume used the same nut. I probably should have researchedmore and did it myself since I do a fair amount of work on cars but that is some high torque. They charged a full hour of labor at $160 to do the job. Others here have been charged about $106.

The axle nuts really should be covered by the powertrain warranty of which I only have a few days left. They don't seem to be a wear item and it is just part of the powertrain basically falling apart. Anyone have any good arguments for convincing them it should be covered by the powertrain warranty?
 

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I had the clicking noise when accelerating or decelerating. They put the washers on and I assume used the same nut. I probably should have researchedmore and did it myself since I do a fair amount of work on cars but that is some high torque. They charged a full hour of labor at $160 to do the job. Others here have been charged about $106.

The axle nuts really should be covered by the powertrain warranty of which I only have a few days left. They don't seem to be a wear item and it is just part of the powertrain basically falling apart. Anyone have any good arguments for convincing them it should be covered by the powertrain warranty?
It's covered. Many people have had them done under warranty. And it would have ZERO affect on alignment. Check tire pressures.
 

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You might be experiencing a symptom of the recall letter I got some years ago for 2011/2012 models. There was a problem as I recall with the rack and pinion steering -- it tended to lock off-center. The letter said that if you had the problem they would fix it. But it also said this fix offer existed for the life of the car.
 

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I had the clicking noise when accelerating or decelerating. They put the washers on and I assume used the same nut. I probably should have researchedmore and did it myself since I do a fair amount of work on cars but that is some high torque. They charged a full hour of labor at $160 to do the job. Others here have been charged about $106.

The axle nuts really should be covered by the powertrain warranty of which I only have a few days left. They don't seem to be a wear item and it is just part of the powertrain basically falling apart. Anyone have any good arguments for convincing them it should be covered by the powertrain warranty?
I was kinda hoping you wouldn't say this. There is a protocol, which calls for replacing both nuts. I'd go back and have them fix this correctly. FWIW I don't think the axle nuts are part of the drive train warranty. Unfortunately.
 

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I had the clicking noise when accelerating or decelerating. They put the washers on and I assume used the same nut. I probably should have researchedmore and did it myself since I do a fair amount of work on cars but that is some high torque. They charged a full hour of labor at $160 to do the job. Others here have been charged about $106.

The axle nuts really should be covered by the powertrain warranty of which I only have a few days left. They don't seem to be a wear item and it is just part of the powertrain basically falling apart. Anyone have any good arguments for convincing them it should be covered by the powertrain warranty?
Is the noise a single thunk/pop noise when accelerating or decelerating? If that is the case, the first thing to try is torquing the axle nuts, not messing with the wheel nuts. I paid $160 to have Paula (service advisor) torque my nuts. It fixed the problem right away. I should have bought a proper wrench and socket to torque my own nuts but hindsight is always 20/20.

But if the noise is a repetitive clicking noise that speeds up and slows down with wheel speed, that's a different issue.
 

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It does not take much to change the steering wheel centering. A quarter turn of a tie rod would do it for example.

I have in the past centered my own steering wheel by turning in one tie rod and the other out. 1/4 to 1/2 turn of the tie rod will equate to about a degree on the steering wheel. Use caution as the tie rods will rotate on the ball joint before the nut actually loosens. Use two wrenches and try to mark your starting point using a sharpie so you can keep track of the rotation. It doesn't take much. Be safe as well.

The bent rim thing sounds bogus. You would notice a bent rim right away by simply rotating the wheel and if you have the cast wheels, they really don't bend, they break.
 

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Steering Wheel Misalignment - the vehicle drives straight, but the steering wheel is off either to the left or right. This is usually caused by an improper toe adjustment.

Wheel alignment isn't an easy subject, but a proper alignment starts with locking the steering wheel to center. If the tech did this and properly aligned your wheels you may have a bigger problem.

I would check to see if the car is dog-tracking then.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I was going to take the front wheels off to look at the rims tonight but someone needed the car. I had it at the chain automotive place yesterday to have the steering wheel centering adjusted and I don't think they improved it much if at all. I can always go back there and try again as it won't cost anything. The dealer could have just taken the wheel off and showed me the bent rim but never offered anything like that.

It still drives in such a way that the wheel is noticeably to the right on a leftward slope and barely even on a rightward slope. I'm sure that would annoy most of. I don't think it is pulling left or right, but very slight if at all.

Thanks all for the discussion.

It's been a decent dealer so far and this is the first bad experience but they also did something kind of outrageous that belongs in it's own thread.
 

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Disclaimer: I am not an alignment expert and my default attitude with mechanics is that they will try to scam me because they're paid in a way that incentivizes scams.

I call BS on the dealer's claim that a bent rim put your steering wheel off-center. They are trying to sell you a new rim and then when they install the new rim they will re-center the steering wheel. Pure gravy for them since they sell an expensive new rim with negligible associated labor and get a bonus used rim in perfect condition to resell.

The tell was that they were unwilling to show you the bend or to swap the front wheels with the rear wheels. You also noted your car drives perfectly smooth, yet a bent rim normally causes vibration similar to an unbalanced wheel. And your steering was centered before the dealer effed with your car. If a bent rim threw off the steering then it wouldn't have needed a dealer visit to show up.

Don't go back to that nest of adders. See another dealer and explain the attempted scam so they will have a better idea of how to "fix" the steering wheel centering. Then report the scam to the BBB and every dealer rating website you can find.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
To conclude this thread, I bought new rims from Tire Rack and had my chain place install them and do yet another alignment with the emphasis on getting the steering wheel straight. Psychologically it is hard to convince myself it it perfectly straight be it probably is. The old rims had paint bubbling off so I was happy to see them go. I also sold the car to a family member who took it to another state so I wanted it be good for the long haul for them.

I still have the old rims and may take them dealer for a blind test to see if they can pick out the two front aka bent rims.

They never did quote rims to me. I don't know if the were trying not to be pushy or just trying to claim it wasn't there responsibility.

I have since picked up a mint 2014 Volt with a custom leather interior with less than 20k miles for decent price. Thanks for the replies.
 

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In the old days, you could merely lift the steering wheel from the splines on the shaft, shift it one spline to the left and lock it back in place with the nut. Can you no longer do that?
I wouldn't take the chance with steering wheel position sensors in the columns nowadays.
 

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I still have the old rims and may take them dealer for a blind test to see if they can pick out the two front aka bent rims.
Bent/distorted rims can create a feeling of vibration in the steering wheel, mostly at higher speeds unless it's so severely distorted that you can see it. In that case the steering wheel vibrates at any speed. They won't cause your steering wheel to be off-center.

I don't know if the service advisor is an idiot, or he thinks you are. Either way this is a dead end.
 
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