How important is wheel alignment?
Think of it this way: Research indicates that the average vehicle is driven about 12,000 miles per year. A car with a toe angle misadjustment of 0.34 degrees (only 0.17 inches) out of specification will drag the tires sideways for more than 68 miles by the end of the year!
What are the symptoms of a vehicle with incorrect alignment?
Have your vehicle checked if you notice:
- Excessive or uneven tire wear
- The vehicle pulls to the left or right
- Feeling of looseness or wandering
- Steering wheel vibration or shimmy
- Steering wheel is not centered when the vehicle is moving straight ahead
How often should I have my vehicle aligned?
Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation noted in your owner’s manual. As a general rule, have your wheel alignment checked every 10,000 miles or at least once a year.
The importance of Total Alignment:
- Reduced Tire Wear: Improper alignment is a major cause of premature tire wear. Over the years, a properly aligned vehicle can add thousands of miles to tire life. Most tires are replaced prematurely due to adverse wear.
- Better Gas Mileage: Gas mileage increases as rolling resistance decreases. Total Alignment sets all four wheels parallel, which along with proper inflation, minimizes rolling resistance.
- Improved Handling: Does your car pull to one side? Do you constantly have to move the steering wheel to keep your car traveling straight ahead? Many handling problems can be corrected by Total Alignment service. With all the vehicle components aligned properly, road shock is more efficiently absorbed for a smoother ride.
- Safer Driving: A suspension system inspection is part of the alignment procedure. This allows worn parts to be detected before they cause costly problems.
Wheel alignment is the position of the wheels relative to your car. When properly aligned, the wheels point in the right direction. Without proper alignment, the wheels resist your steering commands, as well as each other. Alignment also affects gas mileage and tire wear. If your tires are pointed in different directions, they fight against each other and can cause tread wear.
Computerized alignment equipment is used to measure all alignment angles on today's cars. These include both adjustable and non-adjustable angles. (Non-adjustable angles require repair or replacement of the suspension component.) The most common adjustable angles are:
This refers to the tilted direction of the wheels toward or away from one another when viewed from the top. Toe is the most critical tire wearing angle. Tires that "toe-in" point toward one another. Tires that "toe-out" point away from each other.
This refers to the tilt of the wheels toward or away from one another when viewed from the front. Wheels that tilt in toward the vehicle have "negative camber." Wheels that tilt away from the vehicle have "positive camber."
This refers to the angle of the steering axis in relation to an imaginary vertical line through the center of the wheel when viewed from the side. "Positive caster" is the term used when the vertical line is tilted back toward the rear. If it's tilted forward, we call it "negative caster." The proper caster angle stabilizes your car for better steering.
This refers to the relationship of all four wheels to each other, as well as their relationship to an imaginary center line that runs from bumper to bumper. The term "thrust line" refers to the direction in which the rear wheels are pointed. Thrust angle is correctable on cars with adjustable rear suspensions. If your car has a non-adjustable suspension, thrust angle is compensated for by aligning the front wheels to the rear wheels.