Causes of Bad Wheel Alignment
Alignment problems sometimes seem like they come out of nowhere. One day your car is fine and the next you are sawing the steering wheel back and forth trying to keep it between the lines. Most likely, you just did not notice the issue until it became too big to ignore. The cause of your problem is most likely one of these three occurrences.
- Pot Holes
- Cumulative Wear on Suspension and Steering Components
When a good shop aligns your wheels, they will also check for any damage to the suspension or steering components to make sure whatever brought you in doesn’t happen again.
How Alignment is Measured: Camber, Toe, and Caster
At MasterTech, we perform a computerized alignment check which evaluates the following factors against the factory recommendations for your vehicle.
- Camber: If you look at your car from the front you can sometimes notice an inward or outward tilt of the tires. This is called positive or negative camber. Camber issues often are the result of worn bearings or ball joints.
- Toe: Toe is the measurement describing the angle of your tires. With the steering wheel straight, both front tires should be pointed directly ahead. Any variation is a problem with the toe.
- Caster: A bit more complicated, caster refers to the angle of your steering axis and can either be positive or negative. Every vehicle has a recommended caster to help with cornering, ride stability, and general steering.
All three of these factors contribute to alignment issues differently, and all three should be checked when wheel alignment is performed on your car.
Front End Alignment
A front end alignment adjusts the angles of the front two wheels only. Many vehicles do not have adjustable rear wheels, making a four wheel alignment unnecessary. Still, the technician should be checking that the rear wheels line up with the front wheels when performing any adjustment, including a front end only service.
For vehicles with four-wheel independent suspension, all four wheels should be aligned during service. So should any front wheel drive car with adjustable rear wheels. When all four wheels are making contact with the road at the proper angles, your car handles better and drives more smoothly. This is especially important for four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars.
Many cars have complicated suspensions made up of control arms and bushings for the rear wheels, making rear adjustment necessary at times. For these vehicles, rear wheel alignment is definitely a necessity.
Tire Balancing May Reduce Tire Wear
Tire balancing is another way to improve the way your vehicle drives. Once a tire is mounted on a wheel, it must be balanced to ensure the entire wheel rotates evenly. A computerized balancing machine spins your tire and determines how much weight to add to take out any wobble. Occasionally these weights come detached while driving and are lost. If this happens, stop in, and we will get you balanced in no time.