The Importance of Wheel Alignment for Your Vehicle’s Handling and Safety
At Automotive Solutions, we know that keeping your car in good working condition is essential to your safety on the road. One of the most important aspects of vehicle maintenance is ensuring that your wheels are properly aligned. Not only does proper alignment improve handling and performance, but it can also prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your tyres and suspension.
What is Wheel Alignment?
Wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of the angles of the wheels to the manufacturer’s specifications. This ensures that the tyres make proper contact with the road surface and that the vehicle drives straight and true. Three main angles are adjusted during a wheel alignment: camber, caster, and toe.
Camber refers to the inward or outward tilt of the wheel when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Too much positive camber will cause the outside of the tire to wear more quickly, while too much negative camber will cause the inside of the tyre to wear more quickly.
Caster refers to the angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side of the vehicle. Proper caster alignment improves stability and steering feel.
Toe refers to the angle of the wheels when viewed from above. Proper toe alignment ensures that the tyres point straight ahead, not “toed-in” or “toed-out.”
Why is Wheel Alignment Important?
Proper wheel alignment is important for several reasons:
- Improved Handling and Performance: Proper alignment ensures that your vehicle drives straight and true, which improves handling and performance. This means that your car will be more responsive to your inputs, and you will have better control over it.
- Increased Safety: Proper alignment also improves safety by reducing the risk of accidents. When your car is properly aligned, it is more stable and predictable, which means that you are less likely to lose control in an emergency situation.
- Longer Tire Life: Proper alignment also extends the life of your tyres. When your tires are properly aligned, they wear more evenly, which means that they will last longer.
- Improved Fuel Efficiency: Proper alignment can also improve fuel efficiency. When your car is properly aligned, it experiences less rolling resistance, which means that it requires less energy to move forward. This can result in improved fuel efficiency and lower operating costs.
How is Wheel Alignment Done?
Wheel alignment is a complex process that requires specialized equipment and knowledge. At our company, we use state-of-the-art alignment machines to ensure that your wheels are properly aligned. During the alignment process, we adjust the camber, caster, and toe angles of each wheel to the manufacturer’s specifications. We also check for other issues that may be affecting your vehicle’s handling and performance, such as tyre pressure, suspension wear, and steering components.
Tracking vs four-wheel alignment
Tracking and a complete four-wheel alignment are both methods used to ensure proper wheel alignment on a vehicle, but they differ in the scope of adjustments and precision.
Tracking, also known as front-end alignment, focuses on aligning the front wheels of a vehicle. It primarily involves adjusting the toe angle, which is the angle at which the tyres point inward or outward when viewed from above.
Tracking is a basic alignment procedure that aims to ensure that the front wheels are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the road surface. It helps to prevent uneven tire wear and steering issues caused by misaligned front wheels. However, tracking does not address critical alignment angles such as camber and caster, which can affect overall vehicle performance and safety.
On the other hand, a complete four-wheel alignment, also known as a full alignment or wheel geometry, encompasses the alignment of all four wheels of a vehicle. In addition to adjusting the toe angle, it also involves changing the camber and caster angles. Camber refers to the inward or outward tilt of the wheels when viewed from the front of the vehicle, while caster refers to the angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side. These adjustments ensure all four wheels align correctly to the manufacturer’s specifications, improving handling, stability, and tyre wear.
While tracking is a quicker and less expensive alignment option, a complete four-wheel alignment offers more comprehensive adjustments and is recommended for vehicles that require precise alignment. It is particularly beneficial for vehicles with independent rear suspensions or those that have undergone suspension modifications. By addressing the alignment of all four wheels, a complete four-wheel alignment ensures optimal performance, safety, and tyre longevity.
In summary, while tracking focuses solely on aligning the front wheels, a complete four-wheel alignment includes adjustments for all four wheels, addressing camber, caster, and toe angles. The latter provides more precise and comprehensive alignment, improving vehicle handling, safety, and tyre life.