Does your car pull to one side? Are the tires worn excessively, or make weird squeaky noises? Does the steering wheel vibrate, and do you have to constantly keep steering your car to travel straight ahead? These are the symptoms that your car is out of alignment.
Many handling problems can be corrected by an alignment – with all the system components properly aligned, road shock is more efficiently absorbed for a much smoother ride.
A wheel alignment or tire alignment is a manual adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension system. During an alignment, a tire and auto professional will tweak different suspension components to restore them to their correct setting. Adjusting your car’s suspension system can improve overall handling, prevent issues with steering, and help your tires last longer.
The three main parts that are checked and adjusted during an alignment are:
Camber: The inward or outward tilt of your tires when you look front on.
Toe: The inward or outward angle when you view your tires from above.
Caster: The angle of your steering axis when viewed side-on.
The car wheel alignment is of two types:
Front Wheel Thrust Alignment: This method ensures that the front wheels are aligned to the centerline of the vehicle. However, because the front wheels are not referenced to the alignment of the rear wheels the steering wheel may be off-center. For vehicles without any rear suspension adjustment, the front wheels are aligned to the thrust angle of the rear wheels, ensuring that the vehicle tracks straight and the steering wheel is centered.
Front & Rear Wheel Alignment: For vehicles with adjustable rear suspension, all four wheels are aligned to the geometric center of the vehicle, ensuring that the vehicle tracks straight ahead and the steering wheel is centered.
How often should I get a wheel alignment?
- Wheel alignments are usually conducted as part of your regular scheduled servicing.
- When replaced a part of your steering or suspension recently
- Driven over a large bump or experienced a sudden jolt when driving.
- Been involved in an accident that caused you to jerk your breaks.
What are the signs of misalignment:
- Squealing tires
- Unusual sounds when driving
- Pull to the side when steering
- Tires wearing down quickly or unevenly
- Your steering wheel is not centered when you’re driving straight
How long does a wheel alignment last?
There is no set amount of time that a wheel alignment is guaranteed to last for. This is because misalignment can happen from something as simple as hitting the curb or driving over a pothole. For this reason, it is recommended that you have a wheel alignment twice a year or every 10,000km (whichever comes first).
What happens when one drives with bad wheel alignment?
Misaligned wheels can cause issues with fuel efficiency, increased tyre wear, and impact on safety and handling. Since the tyres aren’t correctly aligned they tend to drag more which means the vehicle needs more fuel to get moving. Misalignment also leads to rapid tyre wear and the need for early tyre replacement.
Is it necessary to get an alignment with new tyres?
It is strongly recommended that you have a wheel alignment when you have new tyres put on your vehicle. An alignment helps to extend the life of your tyres and keep you safe on the road by ensuring all tyres meet the road at the correct angle and are properly centered. This means better fuel mileage, increased longevity of your tyres, and better handling and response – essential for your safety, and the safety of others on the road.