I have a 2006 Tundra DC 4WD that I bought new back in January.
Around 8,000 miles, I began noticing the passenger side front tire wearing on the outer edge to a significantly greater degree than the other three tires. In fact, the other three tires appeared to be wearing perfectly evenly. This appeared to me as being an obvious problem with alignment.
At the time, I was also experiencing another problem, but one that I did not attribute at that time to alignment. During turns, it "felt" like the truck was in 4WD mode on dry pavement. In other words, it felt like there was a scrubbing sensation on the tires. About the same time I started noticing this sensation, I had also changed all the drive train fluids to synthetic, and since I have a Limited Slip Differential, I thought that I might be experiencing clutch chatter, especially since I had not added the special additive used on LSDs.
Well, I finally decided today at just over 11,000 miles to take the truck into National Tire and Battery (NTB), a local chain that sells tires and does other work such as alignments. I took it to them because they always give you the complete alignment data, both before and after the alignment.
The guy told me the alignment was "way out". He said they don't align these trucks at the factory, and it was rather common for them to be out of alignment when new. Now that I have the truck back after the alignment, I no longer have the "scrubbing" sensation when steering. It appears the alignment fixed that problem. Only time will tell if it fixed the uneven wear problem as well. I had them rotate the tires - Front to back and back to front.
My questions are:
1) I figured that they don't align these at the factory, at least, not in the sense alignment is performed when you take your car in for alignment. But I did assume they must have some method of assuring a newly manufactured car/truck is pretty close to proper alignment when it comes off the assembly line. This is the first time I have ever had a new vehicle significantly out of alignment when new. However, this is also the first pickup truck (and 4WD vehicle) I have purchased as well. Is it really common for them to come from the factory out of alignment? I don't recall ever running over any curbs or potholes since the truck was new.
2) When I have had cars out of alignment in the past, I have never noticed the sensations during steering I felt when the truck was out of alignment. Is the steering on the Tundra such that being out of alignment could cause this sensation, or was I "grossly" out of alignment? Could it be that 4WD trucks are more sensitive to this issue, or could it be the fact that the tires on this truck (17 inch, 265/275, can't remember which) tend to have this issue when out of alignment?
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that the only symptoms I have ever observed on vehicles that are out of alignment are pulling to one side, or uneven wear. I've never had a vehicle "bind" or "scrub" when the tires are out of alignment.