What You Need to Know.
There are many elements that are important to keep in mind when ensuring you have a safe drive. No driver wants a vehicle to act in an unpredictable manner, because it makes reacting and coping with various road hazards even more of a struggle. One of the most important aspects is to make sure your vehicle is driving straight and true. Do you have to drive with your steering wheel turned to the side just to keep your vehicle strait? Do you find that your vehicle pulls to the left or right? Are you noticing that for some reason, one of your tires is wearing down faster than the others? Looks like an alignment is in your immediate future!
Why Is an Alignment Important?
The process of a wheel alignment is the process of adjusting your vehicle’s suspension. Over time, uneven terrain and other factors can lead to your vehicle’s alignment being off. The alignment of your vehicle’s wheels can dramatically affect its handling performance. Proper alignment adjustments will ensure that your tires are angled correctly, making optimal contact with the road. In addition to getting your tires rotated, most customers will go for a tire alignment after buying new tires. Alignments can come in either two-wheel or four-wheel varieties based on the type of vehicle that you have. There are different types of angles that should be kept in mind when aligning your vehicle:
- Caster Angle – This is a type of angle is usually the angle in which front suspension is positioned in relevance to the vertical position. Caster angle helps a steering wheel return to a centered position after turning and helps with stability at high speeds. This angle is too small to be seen with the eye.
- Camber Angle – This angle refers to the “tilt” of a tire in terms of where it sits on the road. An inward tilt towards the inside of a vehicle is referred to as a negative camber, while an outward tilt towards the outside of the vehicle is called a positive camber. Too much of either can cause excessive wear on either the inside or outside of your tires.
- Toe Angle – The most commonly needed alignment adjustment, toe angle refers to the strait ahead position of your wheels and tires. Properly aligned vehicles shouldn’t have too much of either an inward-toe or outward-toe position.
Common Signs of a Bad Alignment.
Vehicle’s with poor alignment are said to be “off their track,” which is your vehicle’s ability to drive on a strait and even course. When your vehicle has its wheels out of alignment, you’ll be able to notice through several distinguishing characteristics. Here are just a few of the signs you will need to keep in mind:
- Drifting – Vehicles with an uneven alignment will begin to “drift” outside of their normal track. Some vehicles, depending on which wheels are out of alignment, will often drift to either the right or left. The more your vehicle drifts, the more effort you must exert in order to keep it driving in a safe manner. Some manufactures have their vehicle wheels set to a certain amount of “sway” to them, but any excessive pulling to one side should be an immediate concern.
- Abnormal or Uneven Tire Wear – Even the best tires will wear out over time. But if one tire becomes more abnormally worn compared to the others, this often means that the vehicle’s tires are not aligned properly. Uneven wear can lead to further handling problems, and to more frequent tire changes.
- Excessive Tire Squealing – Often if something is wrong with your vehicle, you will hear it as well as feel it! Problems with your vehicle’s alignment are no different. If your vehicle’s tires are squealing during normal driving conditions more than they should, this could also be a sign of poor alignment.
- Steering Wheel Vibrations – When your vehicle has a bad alignment, you’ll feel the inconsistency of that alignment in your steering wheel. The uneven nature of your tires on a driving service will transmit vibrations through the steering column. While several problems could also be behind steering wheel vibrations, an incorrect alignment is one of them.
Here’s How Pat’s Can Help!
When on the road, you’ll want your vehicle to act exactly how you expect it to. That includes making sure it’s driving straight and not deviating unexpectedly. Our Hunter alignment machines are accurate and will ensure your vehicle drives as straight as an arrow. When a vehicle needs an alignment, the certified professionals at Pat’s will first ensure that our machines are set to accept your type of vehicle through our alignment computer. After being driven up onto our alignment rack, our mechanics will user laser technology to give us the exact measurements of where your wheels need be. Depending on your vehicle’s factory recommendations, we will then guide your suspension to the exact specifications that you’ll need for the best performance. Finally, our certified crews will test drive your vehicle to make sure your vehicle is behaving the way it should before giving the keys back to you.