This is somewhat of a delayed post, as I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about this. I’ve taken my car to Firestone in the past for alignments, mainly because: all I really need is for the shop to zero out the toe, and they offer lifetime alignments. I had figured in the past this would eventually pay for itself (it never has). With the new MINI though, it seems Firestone has been incapable of getting anywhere close to 0, or even anywhere close to what they can do within the factory spec.
Below is the first attempt at the alignment. FYI, this is with the plastic pin pulled, dampers “pushed” all the way in the center, etc.
Obviously, I wasn’t pleased with these results, and the rear toe was even worse than where it started! It’s like they just put the car on the rack, make sure it’s where it’s supposed to fall, and pull the car off. So, after the first weekend of events, I had them give it another crack:
So basically, Firestone made the alignment worse than where it started – twice. And they didn’t even get the rear left in “factory spec,” which is why they claimed they couldn’t get zero toe to begin with. When I asked the lady about it, she said it was because the machine sways. Whatever. I told them I wasn’t satisfied with the job they had done, and asked for my money back.
So, I received my money back, but the alignment is still trash, and actually moves the car a little toward understeer, with all the positive toe going on. My codrivers have all indicated that the car could use anywhere from a little to a lot more oversteer, so hopefully fixing the toe takes care of some of that. I spoke with Dave@SPS, and he took a crack at the alignment today:
Overall, much cleaner! Not too sure what exactly was going on with the front camber there, but I didn’t worry too much, as nothing was moved from before and it’s essentially fixed – but as you can see, there were good amounts of positive toe in the Before side of the image. Now, pretty solidly zero toe all around. Hoping this will make the car a hair more neutral. If not, will adjust with tire pressures. I’m considering really experimenting this time, maybe starting at 40/40 (ran 34/34 in the past), and maybe going to 38/40, 36/38, etc. to see if anything good can come of it. Big thanks to SPS for helping out with the alignment! Never going back to Firestone again…
About 50 runs have been put on the tires so far – with a little over 30 being on concrete. I’ve had a solid amount of wear happen over the course of these events: I’m about 4.6-4.8mm from absolute bald in the tires last used in the front, and about 5.0-5.2mm in the tires that were last used in the rear. Having a codriver at Rantoul’s first event, and putting about 20 runs on the tires at Rantoul for the autox school, I suspect, is the main driver of the wear. Concrete is just not kind to these tires. A lot of my runs for the year have obviously been front loaded with things like test n tunes and schools to start with, so I’m only moderately concerned about the tire wear so far. I am fairly resolved in accepting that I will need a second set of tires before the end of the year, maybe a shaved set of whatever just before nationals in September. I will keep tabs on it for now.