The Importance of Computerized Wheel Alignments
One of the most important factors to ensuring your tires get the most life that they can is a proper wheel alignment. A vehicle that is properly aligned will give a smooth and comfortable ride that
will be free of any pulling that can occur when alignment
is off. No matter whether your vehicle is a front wheel drive or a rear
wheel drive, with the sophistication of vehicles today it is of utmost
importance that a good four wheel alignment is conducted on an up to
date alignment system periodically to guarantee the best perforce for
your vehicle and the most life for your tires.
When a vehicle is being aligned it is actually the suspension that is being adjusted and not the wheels and tires.
That said it is very important how those wheels and tires are directed
and angled once the job is done. Four different elements go into a
proper wheel alignment and these include the caster, the camber, the
toe, and the ride height and these components break down as follows:
- Caster: The part of the suspension that supports
the tire and wheel assembly is called the steering axis and the camber
represents the angle of this. Caster is defined when looking at the side
of the vehicle by drawing an imaginary line between the center of the
upper and lower ball joints forming an angle with true vertical and can
be defined as positive or negative. Caster is an important factor when
it comes to the stability of the vehicle at high speeds and the overall steering feel.
- Camber: If you are looking from the front of the
vehicle the camber is the outward or inward tilt of the tire. These
tilts can be described as positive if tilting out or negative if tilting
in. The camber is the factor that determines how much of the tire tread
will be in contact with the road while the vehicle is in motion. Camber
can be set according to the behavior of different drivers and often a
driver will adjust their camber to be negative so that cornering is
made easier and a highway driver will adjust the camber to be more
positive as very little cornering is done and instead there is more of a
straight path being driven.
- Toe: If you are looking at the vehicle from above,
the toe is described as whether or not the fronts of the tires are
farther (toe out) or closer (toe in) apart as opposed to the rears of
the tires. Toe settings will vary between front wheel drive and rear
wheel drive vehicles.
A front wheel drive vehicle will require a toe out setting because the
wheels will pull in towards each other when the vehicle is in motion.
Rear wheel drive will require a toe in setting as the opposite is true.
The idea behind setting the toe in or out is so that there is zero toe
that occurs while the vehicle is in motion.
- Ride Height: This is the distance between the road
and the frame of the vehicle. This is the standard reference point that
is used for all alignment settings so if you get your vehicle raised or
lowered or goes with a bigger or smaller tire then you have to be sure to immediately get a four wheel alignment to be sure of a proper ride.
The uneven wear of your tires is a direct result of bad alignment. Bad alignment can also cause your tires to wear at a much greater pace
than if your vehicle had the proper alignment. If at any time you begin
to notice an uneven wear pattern on your tires you are in need of an alignment.
See us for all of your suspension and alignment needs.