When it comes to our cars, oftentimes we pay so much focus to our engine and its connected parts that we forget about our wheels. They are just as essential as the engine for getting where we need to go. The wheels can also affect your car’s braking ability, ride quality, performance, and fuel economy. Poor wheel alignment is directly linked to issues with steering response, handling, tire wear, and maneuverability. Below, let’s answer the common questions about wheel alignment and how you can tell if your vehicle’s wheel alignment is in need of servicing.
Importance of Wheel Alignment
To be safe and roadworthy, your vehicle needs to perform precisely. Overtime, wheels can become misaligned, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as driving habits and road conditions. In general, your car’s front wheels are more likely to develop alignment problems, but rear wheels are not immune either. Correct wheel alignment will vary between vehicles. Cars with a four-wheel suspension need a different alignment procedure than older wishbone suspensions. Wheel alignment helps ensure your vehicle’s wheels are in the correct position for optimal performance and safety.
Types of Bad Wheel Alignment
There are a variety of different ways your car’s wheels can become misaligned such as:
- Negative Camber: When the wheel is tilted inwards.
- Positive Camber: When the wheel is tilted outwards.
- Toe In: When the wheels point inwards.
- Toe Out: When the wheels point outwards.
- Negative Caster: When the steering axis is behind the vertical.
- Positive Caster: When the steering axis is in front of the vertical.
Why Wheel Alignment is Important
When your wheels are out of alignment, you will likely notice that a series of problems will start to develop which will be noticeable when driving. You will find that your vehicle will list or pull to one side. Should you let go of your steering wheel when you have poor wheel alignment, you’ll notice the vehicle will immediately start to steer to the left or right depending on the type of alignment issues you have.
Good wheel alignment ensures that your vehicle is safe. We can all agree that a vehicle that constantly wants to pull in one direction is an accident waiting to happen. Poor wheel alignment can also impact the way in which your car grips the road, as the wrong part of the wheel will likely be interacting with the road surface. This can be particularly dangerous when driving in severe weather conditions such as heavy rain or ice when maximum grip is needed.
Accurate wheel alignment also prolongs the life of your tires and helps your car perform optimally. When the wheels are properly aligned, the part of the wheel that has tread is making full contact with the road, as intended. This means that the wheel will be able to last much longer than a wheel which is being forced to work, using parts of the wheel lacking in tread. Because the wheel is also able to grip the road correctly, this will increase the performance of your engine. The traction will support the output from the engine, which not only means better performance but also increased fuel economy.
Getting your Wheels Aligned
Wheel alignment should only be undertaken by a licensed professional, as specifications for correct alignment vary from manufacturer as well as between models. You should always have your wheels aligned after replacement, as this is a time when they can slip out of the correct alignment. It is also important to have your wheel alignment checked after a minor collision to rule out sudden misalignment. Hitting a curb can be far more damaging to your wheels than just scraping your rims, so be aware and come into our service center today to check your alignment.
Franklin Automotive, will make sure your car’s wheels are properly aligned. We will also inspect your tire health and provide suggestions on how to reduce tire wear in the future. We gladly service the communities Hoover, Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Inverness, Cahaba Heights, Greystone, and Birmingham, AL. Contact our friendly customer service team today to speak to us about how we can help you.