You should have your vehicle's alignment checked if you ever notice a difference in steering and handling, or when you have new tires installed. It is also a good idea to have it rechecked at least once a year AND always after any sort of collision, accident, or even 'hitting a bad pothole on the road.'
What You Need To Know About Wheel Alignments
Your car leaves the factory with the front wheels set at very specific angles, relative to the vehicle’s frame and to an imaginary straight line down the dead-center of the vehicle. These angles are designed by the company’s engineers for the best in handling, steering response, road manners, road feel and ride quality.
The crucial angles include:
- Toe-in, the inward skew of the wheels
- Toe-out, the outward skew of the wheels
- Camber, the inward or outward tilt of the tops of the wheels
- Caster, the fore-and-aft positioning of the wheels relative to an imaginary point behind the wheels
Over time, with enough wear and tear, those angles can drift out of spec. A single hard hit on a curb, pothole or railroad track can be enough to cause problems with wheel alignment, which show themselves as:
- Tendency to pull to one side while driving on straight, uncrowned pavement with no crosswind
- Poor “returnability”…steering wheel doesn’t center itself readily after rounding a corner
- Steering feels clumsy or “heavy”
- Front tires are wearing unevenly along outside or inside edge
That uneven tire wear is due to the fact that one wheel is skewed to one side, constantly “steering” the vehicle in another direction. That wheel is being dragged along by the rest while you drive in a straight line, resulting in the tread being scrubbed off unevenly. Along with tire wear, that costs you money in terms of fuel economy, due to the increased rolling resistance from that tire.
Wheel alignments are done on a piece of equipment called an alignment rack. A technician makes fine adjustments to the steering linkages and takes measurements of the angles relative to the frame and rear wheels until the front tires are back in spec again. The result is a vehicle that drives like a new car again!
What Are The Benefits of a Four Wheel Alignment?
- Tire Installation
- Tire Balancing
- Tire Repair
- Tire Rotation
- Air Conditioning Repair
- Service Brakes
- Exhaust Repair
- Oil Lube & Filter Change
- Power Steering Repair
- Transmission Service
- Air Filters
- Belts & Hoses
- Cooling System Repair
- Drive Lines
- Electrical Systems
- Engine Diagnostics & Repair
- Monthly Checklist
- Preventative Maintenance
- Wiper Blades
- Wheel Alignments