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Understanding Wheel Alignment For Safe Driving

Wheel Alignment

Your car is made up of a system of parts and when one part is broken or damaged, it can affect your vehicle's overall performance. One of the most neglected problems in your vehicle is incorrect wheel alignment. When this happens, it only takes a short time before other parts of the vehicle are affected, such as tire and suspension.

When is Wheel Alignment Needed

Wheel alignment or tire alignment refers to the vehicle's suspension adjustment and not the wheel or tires themselves. Proper wheel alignment is adjusting the tire's angles with how they make contact with the road to prevent uneven tire wear. When you bring your car to an auto repair shop, a mechanic checks three things: Toe alignment angles, caster angle, and camber.

  1. Toe alignment. This refers to the extent to which your tires turn at an inward or outward angle when viewed from above.
  2. Camber. Camber refers to the inward and outward tilt of the tires when viewed from the front. Camber misalignment is also known as positive camber and negative camber and is indicative of improper wheel alignment, which involves adjusting.
  3. Caster. This refers to the angle of your car's steering axis when viewed from the side of the car. A positive caster means the steering axis tilts toward the driver while a negative caster tilts toward the front vehicle.

Causes of Improper Wheel alignment

There are several scenarios that could contribute to improper wheel alignment such as small collisions, hitting a curb, and sudden or sharp impact. Encounters with uncovered manholes or pothole damage could also seriously damage your car's suspension affecting fuel efficiency.

Factors to Consider During a Wheel alignment

Wheel Balancing vs. Wheel Alignment

As explained earlier, wheel alignment has nothing to do with the wheels themselves but the vehicle's suspension. However, you need to have all four wheels perfectly balanced for a smooth drive, and wheel balancing fixes this issue.

Every wheel is different even if they are in the same car. It is actually impossible to tell whether your tires are perfectly balanced just by looking at them. This is where tire balancing comes in. This process uses high-precision machinery to spin the tires and wheel at the same to check which spots are heavier.

Whenever you purchase new tires, balancing should be part of the installation process. This prevents uncomfortable vibrations when you drive. If the technician does not mention balancing services during tire replacement, ask about it.

Proper Alignment

Misaligned wheels mean that the car is not at its optimum performance, thus compromising safety on the road. Misaligned wheels cause crooked steering wheel, and excessive tire wear or you may experience your car pulling to one side of the road. When this happens, you should have your wheel alignment checked.

Steering Wheel

The most common question is, should the steering wheel be aligned after wheel alignment service? The answer is yes, your steering wheel should almost always be straight after wheel alignments. When you experience an off-center steering wheel, have it checked at an auto repair shop near you. Probably one of the common mistakes that mechanics make is not checking steering response after getting your tires aligned.

Tire and Wheel Assemblies

Tire and wheel assembly or TWA can be balanced in two ways- static or dynamic. When the TWA assembly is statically out of balance, the rotating tire will bounce. On the other hand, a dynamically out-of-balanced TWA causes the tire to wobble. When a TWA is dynamically balanced it is also statically balanced, but it is not the same with the opposite. A balanced TWA minimizes premature tire wear and driver vibration problems.

Wheel alignment cost

If you have not had your wheels aligned after 6,000 miles or after 6 months, it is time to go to your trusted auto repair shop to have your wheels and tire alignment. A local repair shop usually provides guarantees and warranties for these types of services so you don't have to worry.

If you think that getting a four-wheel alignment is expensive, the thought of skipping it might cost you more for repairs in the long run. It can also be dangerous for you and other drivers on the road.


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