4 Wheel Alignment Explanation!

March 21st, 2017 by

Alignment basics

When your alignment is off, your tires are not pointing in the same direction. This will affect 4 things:

1.   Steering

2.   Suspension

3.   Safety

4.   Durability of tires

 

How do vehicles lose their alignment?

Wheel Alignment can be thrown off by:

1.   Port holes

2.   Hitting a curb

3.   Bumping into concrete parking stalls

4.   Wear & tear – rubber components start cracking and socket joints becomes loose as the vehicle ages

 

Are there any warning lights to indicate alignment problem?

No, there isn’t. The best solution is to get it checked regularly.

 

 

What is camber, caster & toe?

Camber

Camber Information

Consequences of camber misalignment:

1.   Premature tire wear on one side of the thread

2.   Pulling problem to the more positive camber

Reasons for camber misalignment:

1.   Vehicle involved in accident

2.   Springs sag causing change in ride height

3.   Ball joints or other attached parts are worn or defective

Do you know: The camber on most front wheel drive vehicles is not adjustable. Worn out parts will need to be replaced in order to adjust the camber back to its original manufacturer settings.

Caster

Caster

Consequences of caster misalignment:

1.   Problems in straight line tracking, vehicle will pull to the less positive caster

2.   Poor returnability of the steering wheel when it spins back to the straight ahead position

3.   A caster too positive will result in a heavy steering

4.   A caster too negative will provide lighter steering but vehicle will wander and have difficulties keeping in a straight line

Do you know: Caster has no effect on tire wear. Caster is also not adjustable for most front wheel drive vehicles. Parts will need to be replaced in order to achieve manufacturer settings.

 

Toe

Toe

 

The vehicle’s toe is the most critical alignment settings that affect tire wear. A slight misalignment of the toe will result in a reduction in tire life.

For minimum tire wear and power loss, the wheels of a vehicle should be pointing straight ahead. So why most vehicles have their front wheels toe-in? This is to ensure directional stability

1.   Increase toe in can reduce oversteer, steady the car and enhance high speed stability

2.   Increase toe out will reduce understeer and free up the car

 

 

 

What happen if I don’t get my wheels aligned

1.   Spending a lot more on tires as they wear a lot faster

2.   Poor handling of vehicle

 

How will wheel alignment help my vehicle?

1.   Optimal drivability

2.   Longer lasting tires

3.   Smoother drive

4.   Keep your wheels pointed in the right direction

5.   Requires less energy to keep going hence saving fuel

 

What’s the relationship between alignment and tire wear?

Ideally, tires should wear evenly across the thread. Poor alignment causes uneven wear and can shorten a tire’s life by thousands of kilometers. Crucial steering and suspension parts might be affected as well. To minimize the frequency of tire change and better fuel efficiency, have your wheel alignment checked.

 

How often should you get your alignment checked

We recommend an alignment check with every other oil change. A lot happens over the course of 10,000 km. With the vast amount of potholes on the road in Massachusetts, your alignment would be thrown off even faster. The longer you wait for an alignment, the more damages will occur.

Tire Wear Information

Do vehicles have different types of alignment specifications?

Different car models have different alignment specifications which are determined by the manufacturers. We use a special computerized alignment machine that is pre-loaded with every vehicle’s alignment specifications. Once the vehicle type is determined, the high tech and precise measuring begins.

Why is it so hard to determine if the alignment is off?

We cannot view a misalignment purely by the naked eye. With technology, we are able to diagnose the symptoms and signs of a misalignment which will have a huge impact on tyre life.

Symptoms of misalignment

However, there are some noticeable signs of misalignment:

1.   Vehicle pulling to the left or right

2.   Uneven or rapid tyre wear

3.   Steering is crooked when driving straight

Capability of the wheel alignment machine

1.   Measure and set all 4 tyres to the settings of the manufacturer

2.   Provide the most accurate reading available

3.   Settings of all vehicles are pre-loaded in the system

Process of wheel alignment

1.   Inspect steering and suspension system, including tyre condition and air pressure

2.   Place vehicle on alignment rack, mount and calibrate sensors

3.   Print out initial alignment settings

4.   Adjust camber, caster & toe angles

5.   Print out final alignment readings

6.   Road test vehicles to make sure alignment is not off

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