Because wheel alignment entails fine-tuning the angles of the suspension system so that the wheels are literally oriented in the appropriate direction, it is also known as suspension alignment.
When suspension parts are replaced, if there are obvious signs of misalignment (such as the steering wheel being cocked to one side when the vehicle is going straight or if the vehicle consistently pulls to one side), or in cases of uneven, rapid, or severe tyre wear, wheel alignment isn’t usually listed as a regular maintenance item.
When replacing tyres, alignment is often recommended, especially if the original tyres wore out early or unevenly. Why not make sure a misaligned suspension won’t affect the life of your new tyres if you’re spending $500 or more on them? The tyres will be subjected to undue stress if the wheels aren’t turned in the appropriate direction, which will hasten wear.
Hitting a pothole or a curb can cause alignment issues, but worn or damaged suspension parts like ball joints, springs, and tie rods can also cause them. For example, worn springs on an older car will lower the ride height and alter wheel alignment. As a result, before choosing whether a wheel alignment can cure your problem, you should evaluate the suspension system.
An alignment assessment is also recommended for a vehicle that has been in an accident, especially if the impact was in the front, or that has gone off-road unintentionally. The majority of automobiles require four-wheel alignment, while others just have the front wheels adjustable.
What can be modified depends on the vehicle, but an alignment can involve camber, toe, and caster adjustments. When looking at the car from the front, the camber is the inclination of the wheels. When looking down from above, toe-in indicates the front of the wheels angle inward, and toe-out means they angle away from each other.
The angle of the front suspension, which controls the pivot point of the tyre as the driver turns the steering wheel, is referred to as caster angle. The caster angle can be positive (towards the front), neutral (towards the centre), or negative (towards the back) (negative caster). The amount of aggressiveness with which the steering wheel aligns itself after a turn is determined by the caster angle.
Don’t try this at home because these changes are measured in fractions of an inch and require specialist alignment equipment and training.
Indicators of Problems with Wheel Alignment
Your steering wheel’s center is not straight
A misaligned car is frequently indicated by a crooked steering wheel. Dead center is how your steering wheel was intended to be used. Verify the alignment of your steering wheel while you are traveling along a straight road. Checking to see if the logo in the middle is centered is an easy approach to spot this.
Your vehicle pulls to one side or the other
One of the simplest symptoms to spot is when your car pulls to one side while you’re driving. While a minor pull to the left or right is typical, if you find yourself continuously steering to stay straight, there may be an alignment issue.
Exceptionally Rapid Tire Wear
One of the best indicators of car problems is tire wear. The interior and exterior of the tire should wear out at the same rate. You can see abnormal tire wear right away with your own eyes or with the help of a skilled professional. Similar to how a car shakes, unusual tire wear may point to a number of problems, including wheel misalignment.
Vibration of automobile or the steering wheel
Your car or steering wheel shouldn’t vibrate so much that you can feel it in your hands when you’re accelerating. When your car shakes while you’re driving, it could be a sign of several different problems, one of which is a misaligned set of wheels. To determine if the reason is a misalignment or another issue, an ASE-Certified technician would need to diagnose the problem.