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Discussion Starter #1
Let me know what you guys think:

I bought a 71 Nova in the summer, and I knew that the car needed an alignment. Before I took it in, it was obvious that the car didn't turn to the right as much as it did to the left. I assumed this would get taken care of with the alignment. It didn't.

Here's what I've determined - the car has as Smith Racecraft front subframe with a Unisteer rack and pinion unit. The steering unit is 2.5 turns lock to lock. It looks like whoever set it up thought it was 3 turns. The wheel turns 1.5 times to the left and one time to the right before locking out.

Does it seem reasonable that my alignment guy should have figured this out?

thanks
 

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1970 Nova SS 350 Brandon, MS
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I would first center the rack (1.25 turns in from either lockout) and then center the wheels with the tie rod adjustments while keeping the rack stationary. Don't forget to add a little toe-in. Afterward, remove and reinstall the steering wheel in the correct orientation.

*** I wouldn't blame your alignment guy, I would blame society as a whole! Our technology has made us much more dumb than we care to admit. Real "alignment guys" (and "mechanics") are few and far between these days...especially when it involves anything outside of bone-stock, factory installed setups.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Normally I'd agree, but this wasn't just an alignment shop. These guys did the alignment and several other things to the car - fixed some wiring, replaced a rear axle seal, and re-did some turbo plumbing.
 

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66 Chevy II, Pontiac powered; 68 &75 Firebirds
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Does it seem reasonable that my alignment guy should have figured this out?

thanks
That is a difficult call. I have never checked with any alignment shop that they would determine the steering gear centered lock to lock. I have also not checked myself. Basically that the steering wheel is centered when the car drives straight.
(On a side note, I once got a car back and the steering wheel was not straight. They straightened it by realigning the steering wheel, and not the steering gear. Driving it back home the steering wheel went out of wack in the other direction. Lost confidence in that shop. The next shop said the steering is all out of wack because a ball joint was about to fall out! The first shop was supposed to check the front end before alignment. I was surprised, as they found and change the bad center link.)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think I'll go ahead and attempt this fix on my own. Let me know if I've got the right plan:

With the car pointed straight ahead, I am going to disconnect the tie rods. Then, I'll re-center the steering so that it'll turn 1.25 revs left and right. After that, I'll adjust the tie rods so that they'll fit back into the steering arms.

Does that sound right? My only issue afterwards should be centering up the steering wheel.
 

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1973 Custom hatchback
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I suggest you take a step back and start with the steering wheel and check your rag joint too. Ignore the wheels for a moment.
check your steering wheel dot and ^ mark for proper alignment then your rag joint ( if your steering system has one). If your steering column rod lines up with your steering wheel mark, lock your steering straight ahead and go to the rag join tand now look at your wheels.

Some rag joints can go in 180 out, although I don't think you have this problem, as you say your steering is only off 1/4 turn?

Once those two items are straight, then you can adjust your tie rods.

I used my lift and sighted the front tires to the back at the axle line with a 4 foot level. I got them equal, pointed slightly into the inside the tread on the inner rear tire ( think of sighting a rifle )

My tires were the same size.
My alignment was spot on when checked at an OLD school shop.

GL.
 
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