Wheel alignment, also called tire alignment, helps your tires last longer and perform correctly. In addition to that, tire alignment can help keep a vehicle from pulling to one side and make handling smoother while driving.
When a mechanic measures alignment, the angles are described in tenths and hundredths of inches or degrees. Even a small misalignment over time can cause additional or uneven wear to your tires. Whether you need tire repair service or four-wheel alignment from professionals, Kwik Kar would be happy to help.
Never having an alignment done on your vehicle will only lead you to spending more money on tires. Without the correct alignment, your tires are going to wear down at a much higher rate. You may also begin to notice that your vehicle drives differently over time. You will find that it doesn’t handle as well as it did before, and in more extreme cases, it may even make it challenging to keep control of the vehicle entirely. While this is all horrible, it’s also altogether preventable if you have your wheels aligned when it is needed.
There are a number of ways in which your tires can prematurely age. These include camber wear, feathering, and heel/toe wear. Feathering is what is defined as tires with tread on one side that is smooth but tread that is sharp on the other side. This is typically due to improper toe alignment.
Camber wear shows up as more wear on the outside or inside of the tread, as opposed to the center. This is based on the camber being improperly aligned.
The final type is heel/toe wear which is when one side of the tread blocks has worn more quickly than the other. This can be caused by a lack of rotation or under-inflation of the tire.
If your tires exhibit any of these abnormal patterns, you should have a tire technician look at your front end or four wheel alignment. You should do the same if you notice problems with steering or pulling while driving. Get professional assistance from our ASE certified technicians for steering wheel alignment to enjoy smooth and safe driving experience.
An alignment check should be done on a regular basis of about 5,000 to 6,000 miles. A good tip for remembering to get it done is to schedule it with your oil change every other time you visit the mechanic for that service. In the time between, your car is likely to have experiences knocking against the curb, driving over potholes, or traveling down dirty stretches of road. Each of these things has an impact on how your tires sit on the road, which makes for alignment issues.
The technician who is checking your front end or four-wheel alignment will be looking at a trio of things. These include the camber, toe, and caster of the wheel.
The camber is the outward or inward angle when viewing the tire from ahead of the vehicle. If there is too much of an angle in either direction, this is known as positive or negative camber. It shows that there is some alignment issue that will need adjusting. Things like ball joints and ball bearings can be contributing factors to misalignment of the camber.
When looking at the toe, the mechanic will be looking at the outward or inward alignment but from above the vehicle. If the tires are angled in toward the body of the car, this is called toe-in alignment. Toe-out alignment is when the wheels angle out away from the body of the car. Either of these things means an alignment is required.
Finally, the caster is considered. This relates to how the angle of steering axis shows up when looked at from the side of the vehicle. With a positive caster, this axis is going to tilt toward the driver. With negative caster, on the other hand, the axis will be leaning away from the driver.
Your vehicle’s steering and suspension system helps ensure that you’re able to control the car while on the road, and that your ride is comfortable. In order to achieve those goals, the system relies on a wide range of components, many of which are responsible for more than one duty. Over time and through normal use, your steering wheel alignment and suspension system can degrade. This can result in reduced performance, premature tire wear, an uncomfortable ride, and other problems.
You’ll find that the components in your car’s steering and suspension system vary depending on the type of system in general (power steering or rack and pinion, for instance). For the average vehicle, it might include the following:
All of these components work together to ensure that you can steer your car, and that your ride quality is good.
A wide range of potential problems could occur with your steering and suspension system, including:
These are just some of the potential issues that you could face with your steering and suspension system. The most common issue is a lack of proper steering wheel alignment, which leads to premature, incorrect tire wear and can affect your handling on the road. If the situation has extended to tires, get your vehicle back on track with our tire alignment services.
Should I Drive If I Suspect a Steering and Suspension System Problem?
The answer to this question is “it depends”. If you do not feel comfortable driving the vehicle, our recommendation is to have it towed to our shop for an inspection and repairs for steering wheel alignment and/or suspension system.
Ideally, you will have your vehicle’s steering wheel alignment checked once per year to ensure that misalignment does not lead to premature tire wear. During this time, and during regular maintenance and services, a trusted mechanic should inspect the components of your steering and suspension system, including the power steering rack, the power steering pump and fluid level, the condition of your shocks/struts, the condition of the tie rod bushings, and more.