Wheel alignment, also known as ‘tracking’, is a mechanical adjustment that ensures the wheels of a car are properly positioned in relation to each other and the road’s surface.
It involves adjusting the angles of the wheels to manufacturer-specified settings, allowing for customised vehicle performance and safety. Alignment not only influences a vehicle’s performance but also the longevity of your tires and safety on the road.
How is wheel alignment done?
Wheel alignment can be done by looking at your vehicle’s alignment components. Mainly, the camber, toe and caster.
What is camber?
Camber refers to the vertical tilt of the wheels when viewed from the front or rear of the vehicle.
What is caster?
The caster angle influences the steering balance and stability of the car and refers to the forward or backward tilt of the steering axis.
What is toe?
Tyres can be ‘toe-in’ (facing inwards) or ‘toe-out (facing outwards)’ when looking at the parallel alignment from directly above the car.
Why is wheel alignment important?
“What is wheel alignment?” is a common query asked by car owners wanting to familiarise themselves with tire alignment. But what makes it such a crucial mechanical adjustment? Well, proper wheel alignment is essential to your vehicle’s overall performance. For example, correct alignment can improve your car’s handling and manoeuvrability. Your vehicle will respond better to steering inputs, making it easier to control. Each journey will be smoother than the next, and the lifespan of your tyres will be maximised.
Misaligned wheels exert uneven pressure on the tires and cause them to wear down faster in certain areas. By aligning the wheels, you can avoid premature tire replacements and save money in the long run.
What are the signs of incorrect wheel alignment?
If you’re worried about incorrect wheel alignment, keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Vehicle pulling: If you notice your vehicle drifting to one side, especially when driving on straight roads, your toe, camber, or caster angles could be uneven.
- Vibrations in the steering wheel: Misalignment can cause vibrations to travel through the steering wheel while driving. If your wheels are misaligned, these wheel vibrations will be more prominent at higher speeds.
- Uneven tire wear: Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear patterns. Inspect your tires: if the centre remains relatively untouched and the inner and outer edges are showing excessive wear, this can indicate camber or toe misalignment.
- Squealing tires: Improper alignment can lead to tire squealing, particularly when taking turns. This occurs due to excessive tire scrubbing against the road surface from misaligned toe angles.
- Poor handling and responsiveness: If you notice that your vehicle isn’t responding quickly to steering input or feels ‘loose’ on the road, your wheel alignment may be negatively affecting your car’s handling.
How Often Should Wheel Alignment Be Done?
We recommend wheel alignment once every 1 to 2 years, however, the frequency of your wheel alignment could increase depending on various factors, including your recent trips and the vehicle’s specific requirements.
As a general guideline, you could have a wheel alignment check performed:
- When getting new tires: Whenever you get new tires fitted, it’s also a good idea to have a wheel alignment check done: this will ensure your new tires wear evenly and last longer.
- After hitting a large pothole or curb: Hitting a significant pothole, curb, or any other substantial road hazard can knock the wheels out of alignment. In such cases, we advise having the alignment checked immediately.
- If you notice uneven tire wear: If, while inspecting your vehicle, you notice an uneven wear pattern on your tires, it’s time to take it in for a check.
- As recommended by the manufacturer: Every car is different: some manufacturers may recommend frequent wheel alignment checks based on the make, model, and age of your vehicle. Consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to determine their recommended interval for wheel alignment checks.
Now that you know what wheel alignment is and why it’s so important, don’t forget to book your vehicle in for a check! Contact Customise Your Wheels at email@example.com or call 07966795444 for more information on our wheel alignment services.