Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: West Grove, PA
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The nice thing about alignments is that they can check to see if you need an alignment before they do it. So they will only do the alignment if needed - otherwise, there shouldn't be any cost.
I took my car to Firestone and got a "Lifetime alignment" and "Lifetime balancing". This way, I can get my car aligned and my wheels balanced any time I want for no cost. And the "lifetime" services really aren't that much more expensive than the normal non-lifetime services. If you plan on keeping your car for a while, they are definitely worth it.
I can't answer the question about the tires. I've also stuck with the same size that the car came with from the factory. Obviously, if you're getting new tires, don't get the balancing done until you replace the tires (they will need balanced when you get new tires anyway).
I always recommend an alignment when getting new tires as well - you don't want an out-of-alignment car to ruin your new tires! :-) Tires are too expensive!
I like Firestone, because they have the "lifetime" services, they have retail stores all over the place and I can get tires, balancing and alignments done all at the same place. You'll pay a little more for the tires, but it's very convenient. I bought 75k mile warranty Bridgestone Turanza w/Serenity Plus tires there, including full roadside assistance coverage (covers ANY tire damage) for the life of the tire. So I won't have to spend another penny on tires, balancing or alignments for another 75k miles! :-)
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