Doing Tire Alignment regularly comes with some serious perks, but it is often neglected by most car owners. Better fuel efficiency, smoother ride, and improved safety are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy after your wheel alignment.
Most vehicle and tyre manufacturers recommend having your vehicle’s wheel alignment checked every 6 months or 10,000km – whichever occurs first. It is also recommended to have an alignment carried out if you hit a curb or pothole, as this can cause suspension and steering damage and also throw out the wheel alignment.
A wheel alignment service can consist of a front-wheel or a four-wheel alignment, depending on your vehicle type. The common alignment angles are camber, caster, and toe.
Caster is the angle at which the front suspension is positioned in reference to the vertical position. Caster is only set on the front suspension of your car. This angle cannot be seen by the eye but must be measured with the correct alignment equipment. Caster is only set on the front suspension of your car. This angle cannot be seen by the eye but must be measured with the correct alignment equipment.
Camber is an angle that is set, which you can actually see when looking at some vehicles. Camber is the tilt of the top of the tyre according to how it sits on the road.
If you are looking at the wheels on a vehicle, having the top of the tyre tilting in towards the vehicle is class named as negative camber, and if the top of the wheel is tilting out from the vehicle, this is known as positive camber.
As a rule, most vehicles are set to neutral or slightly negative camber, to allow for even tyre wear, although some sports cars will allow for slightly more negative camber, to increase the handling characteristics at higher speeds.
Having too much negative camber will wear the inside of the tyre more quickly, and having too much positive camber will cause the outside of the tyre to wear more quickly.
Toe angle is the most commonly needed alignment adjustment. Toe angle is the straight-ahead position of the tires. If you think about walking with the toes on your feet pointed inwards, this would be considered toe-in. If your feet are perfectly straight, that would be zero toes. If you pointed your feet outwards that would be toe-out.
This angle can be set on the front and rear of most vehicles and it’s typically set fairly close to zero, or straight ahead.
Having too much toe – either in or out – can cause instability at higher speeds, and substantially increased tyre wear, as the vehicle is ‘fighting’ against the excessive angle of the tyres.
Look out for the following indicators:
- Uneven tread wear
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right
- The steering wheel is off-centre when driving straight
- Steering wheel vibration
After a wheel alignment
Once a wheel alignment is performed the vehicle will be test-driven to make sure it drives straight. Your car may also require the steering angle sensor to be reset to centre, to allow for the correct functioning of the stability control system.
Getting periodic wheel alignments will increase your tyre life, maintain the handling of your vehicle and find small problems with steering, suspension, and wheels before they become costly repairs!
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