Symptoms of Misaligned Wheels
- Uneven Tire Wear
- Vehicle Pulls Sharply in One Direction
- Slight Pulling
- Rapid Tire Wear
- Steering Wheel Vibration
- Crooked Steering Wheel
- Noisy Steering
- Squealing Tires
Why does your vehicle need an alignment?
If you are noticing some uneven tire wear, handling problems, or a crooked steering wheel, it may be time to check your vehicle’s alignment! If left unchecked and uncorrected, you can cost yourself more money in repair bills in the long run. Ignoring these signs can make your alignment issues worse. You will find yourself pulling on the steering wheel more to keep the vehicle straight, and your Monday morning commute will begin to feel even longer.
Continuing to drive with a bad alignment can reduce the life of your tires, trigger driver-assist warnings and begin to tax other components like wheel bearings.
Even if you are not experiencing some of the above symptoms, most auto manufacturers recommend getting your alignment checked every 10,000 miles or 12 months (whichever happens to come first).
Your vehicle’s alignment settings will change naturally through daily driving as you roll through a pothole or catch the end of a curb as you make a turn.
Just because you have not been in any accidents with your vehicle does not mean the alignment sustains original specifications. We have even seen cars come directly from the dealer barely in spec.
It is always a wise investment to have a routine alignment done with your oil change service.
What does it mean when my alignment is in, or out, or “spec”?
Vehicle manufacturers supply an alignment specification. These specs consist of the ideal numbers for the preferred angle of the wheels. These numbers are for camber, caster, and toe. These are the three main things to account for in your vehicle’s alignment.
Toe: Toe refers to the angle your vehicle’s wheels are on based on the centerline of your vehicle, looking top down. Too much toe in either direction can cause poor handling, vibrations, and excessive tire wear.
Camber: Camber is the inward or outward tilt on your vehicle’s wheels when looking straight on from the bumper. This adjustment affects your tires contact patch. Too much camber in either direction can cause excessive tire wear.
Caster: Caster is the most difficult to understand, but it is the slope of the steering axis. Motorcycles are an example of something with a high amount of caster. The front-wheel protrudes past the front of the frame to allow for better stability and increased handling. Most automotive manufactures require some amount of positive caster.
It is essential to look at all points of adjustment when you perform an alignment. Changing one variable can have a direct effect on the others, one modification without double-checking the rest after can still leave you with a miss-aligned vehicle. Chain garages tend to focus primarily on toe, which is quick to adjust and has the most direct effect on steering wheel position. Just adjusting toe will not be enough to save your tires in the long run!
Protect your tires and your pockets
“Every inch a vehicle is out of alignment is equivalent to dragging the tire sideways at 100 feet per mile!” says Hunter Engineering. “This creates dangerous driving conditions and places unnecessary wear on tires.”
Don’t let your miss-alignment and the New England roads get the best of you and your tires. Contact us today to set up your appointment!
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