The Importance of Wheel Alignment

 


Why is wheel alignment important?


It is important to protect your investment of new tires for you vehicle. Proper wheel alignment will play a crucial role in prolonging the life of your tires as well as important suspension components.


Misaligned steering systems will cause uneven wear of your tires, along with steering problems such as the vehicle pulling to one side or vibrations.


How do you know when you need an alignment?


It is usually easy to tell when a vehicle requires an alignment and there are a few inspections you can make at home before bringing your vehicle in for an alignment.


Tread wear


A quick visual inspection of your tires is the first sign of a poorly aligned steering system. Uneven tire wear will be easy to spot if a vehicle is out of alignment.


Steering wheel position


If the steering wheel of your vehicle isn’t straight it can be a sign that you need an alignment. Typically the wheel will be off centre to the left or right.


Vehicle pulling to one side


While driving the vehicle you will feel it being pulled to the side where there is an improper alignment and this will cause you to constantly correct the vehicle's steering wheel while driving.


Tires squealing or skipping


The most noticeable sign of an improper alignment is when the vehicles wheels are squealing or skipping while driving. This can also be seen while reversing the vehicle and can be felt in the steering wheel.




What is measured during an alignment?


The three major measurements that are inspected during the alignment consist of camber, caster, and toe. When the three of these measurements meet manufacturer's specification your tires will wear evenly increasing their life and saving you time and money. Along with proper tire wear, your vehicle will handle correctly providing you with more confidence while behind the wheel.


 

What is Camber?


Camber, when viewed from the front of the vehicle, can be described as the “Tilt” of the wheel. This tilt can result in Positive Camber (+) when the top of the wheel is pointing outward and Negative Camber (-) when the top of the wheel is pointing inward.


Effects of Camber


  • Excessive Positive camber can result in premature wear of the outside edge of your tires.

  • Excessive Negative camber can result in premature wear of the inside edge of your tires.


What is Caster?


Caster, when viewed from the side of the vehicle, is the measurement of the steering axis (Typically the strut assembly) compared to the vertical axis. Most vehicles have positive caster which helps to keep the tires straight and allow for the wheels to return quickly after turning. Positive Caster (+) is when the steering axis is behind the vertical axis. Negative Caster (-) is when the steering axis is in front of the vertical axis.


Effects of Caster


  • Vehicles with improper caster angles will cause premature tire wear and increased steering effort.

  • Correct caster measurements allow for increased stability, especially when at higher road speeds.



What is Toe?


Toe, when viewed from the front of the vehicle, is when the tires are pointed inward or outward to each other. Correct toe plays an important role in tire life and steering input. When the tires are pointed in towards each other this creates Positive Toe In (+). When the back of the tires are pointed towards each other this creates Negative Toe Out (-).


Effects of Toe


  • Misaligned toe adjustments will cause premature tire wear and will cause the vehicle to steer differently.

  • Vehicles are generally aligned with positive toe in, this allows the wheels to become straight when moving along the road.


     

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Categories: Service