WHEEL ALIGNMENT BASICSPosted on: 06, June, 2014
Watch out for that pot hole!
Proper wheel alignment preserves your vehicle’s safety and tire tread life, and doing so will ensure handling and maintain correct tire contact with the road.
Some forgetful or new drivers only do this when they buy new tires. However, proactive drivers remember to have their tire alignment checked between tire purchases too.
We often find that many drivers skip this key auto maintenance step. Not doing so can cause problems because driving over common obstacles on Fort Bend County roads like the car-swallowing pot hole in the picture above or speed bumps or curbs can throw off your vehicle’s settings.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
- Tires will wear unevenly if the wheels aren’t adjusted properly. Tread life will be extended when everything is set-up correctly because your tires will distribute the load equally between them. Tire balancing also plays a role in tire wear.
- A wheel alignment service will keep your car operating properly and save you money on auto repairs. Driving road imperfections and debris puts more stress on your steering and suspension systems. This makes these systems work harder and could cause them to wear down faster or break down needlessly.
- A bad alignment will make your tires work harder. In turn, this places a higher load on the engine and reduces your gas mileage. The impact on mileage is small but it will increase a lot as you rack up the miles.
- Because your tire and steering systems are related, your car might drift to the left or right if the settings are off. Ultimately, this will mess up your handling, reduce automobile safety and lower vehicle performance.
WHAT SHOULD BE CHECKED?
A wheel alignment involves three main measurements: camber, caster and toe. A technician targets certain standards for each of these elements using special equipment.
- Camber refers to the tilting of the wheels inward or outward when viewed from the front of the vehicle. If the wheels tilt outward at the top, the camber is positive (+). If the wheel tilts inward at the top, the camber is negative (-).The amount of tilt is measured in degrees from the vertical. Camber settings are important because they affect directional control and tire wear. If the camber is wrong, the tires will wear faster on either the inside or outside edges depending on whether they are tilted positively or negatively of course.
- Caster is the tilting of the uppermost point of the steering axis either forward or backward when looked at from the side of the vehicle. You have positive caster is if the line angles forward and negative caster if the line angles backward.Caster affects your steering, but not tire wear. Typically, you’ll notice if the caster needs to be corrected when you turn the vehicle because of change in the way the steering feels.
- Toe measurement isn’t just about your front wheel alignment. Instead, it reflects how much your front and rear wheels are turned in or out when viewed from the front of the vehicle. If the wheels are turned in, the toe is positive (+). If the wheels are turned out, the toe is negative (-).Toe makes sure the wheels roll parallel to each other. Improper toe adjustment causes premature tire wear and creates steering instability.
This overview helps explain why wheel alignments should be a regular part of good auto maintenance. To make your car safer to drive, easier to handle, and to save money have your it checked at least every 10,000 miles by an ASE Certified technician.
Since 1988, First Tire & Automotive has been proudly serving quality auto repair to drivers in Fort Bend County. If you have any questions about your tire services or any other car maintenance service, feel free to contact one of our friendly experts today.