Alignment adjustments are extremely important to the safety of the car. Improper alignment of a car’s wheels can lead to premature tire wear.
How long does a wheel alignment take?
Wheel alignment, with all angle adjustments operation described below on all 4 wheels, takes between 25 minutes to 40 minutes at most, depending on what type of car you have.
In four-wheel-drove cars, it takes a little longer between 35 minutes to 1 hour at most because there is a lot more work involved.
This operation is very important from the safety point of view of the driver, passengers, and also of the other drivers in traffic. Also, it prevents irregular tire wear, provides a better grip on the car and reduces fuel consumption.
As long as your wheels are in a correct position, and by that I mean if they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other, the tires will wear evenly.
If the wheels are misaligned, the bearings can be damaged and even the control of the car can be lost.
Why wheel alignment is necessary?
Detect any misaligned, worn, or defective parts by checking the alignment of the wheels. As a result of this setting, tire wear is minimized, fuel consumption is reduced, steering is safe, and braking is effective. The car can even lose control if its wheels are out of alignment.
When wheel alignment is needed?
A bad road or a pothole can affect the alignment of the wheels. You should do this also whenever you climb a high border at speed or when you hit other significant obstacles.
When the steering wheel does not react correctly to your maneuvers in turns, as well as when the car pulls left or right while you keep the steering wheel straight, you should inspect it.
Whenever there is uneven tire wear, when changing tires, or when you hear a rattle even at low speeds, it is essential to check the wheel alignment.
Difference between wheel alignment and wheel balancing
They are not related, but sometimes they are confused. In order to adjust the parallelism or alignment, the angle of each wheel must be adjusted in order to become perpendicular to the ground.
The purpose of balancing a wheel is to allow it to spin at certain speeds without vibrating.
How important is weight distribution when adjusting angles?
There are some aspects to be followed when checking the wheel alignment:
The camber angle
A wheel’s angle when viewed from the front or rear is called an angle. You might not know that the wheels on your car are not perfectly vertical; they have a slope, and the camber angle is the angle made between the axis of the wheels and the vertical. When this angle is too large, uneven tire wear occurs.
There is only one angle that adjusts to any car without special auxiliary devices and is determined by the difference between the distance between the front and the rear wheels on the same axle. As a result, this angle influences the car’s behavior in turns.
The toe angle is positive when the front parts of the wheels are closer, which gives the car understeer in turns. If it is too large, the tires will be worn starting from the outer parts.
A negative toe angle is when the rear parts of the tires are closer. This results in a curvature overshoot and if it is too large, the tires will wear from the inside to the outside.
To ensure the general balance of the mechanical forces, a rear-wheel-drive car often has a positive convergence angle, and those with front-wheel-drive have in most cases a negative convergence angle.
A straight line perpendicular to the ground and the axis of rotation of the wheel are separated by this angle. It ensures stability at high speeds and the angle of turning.
The camber angle can only be improved by replacing parts such as spindles, lower arm, upper arm, or shock absorber.
Basically, adjusting the wheel alignment consists of adjusting parts of the front and rear suspension, operations that are performed only in specialized workshops that have special machines strictly for this operation.
It is also important to distribute the weight that acts on the vehicle when performing the angle adjustment operation. The car can be used without passengers and cargo, but it greatly influences the correct adjustment of the wheels.
Overloading or doing such things when empty means that the compression on the elastic elements of the suspension is variable. This implicitly results in a variable position of the wheel elements.
What needs to be checked before alignment begins?
Therefore, the adjustment is made by taking into account the car user’s manual regarding the load when performing the alignment operation.
Depending on the current mode of use of the car, loaded with three passengers for example, or loaded with four passengers and luggage, the wheel alignment is adjusted correctly.
So, when you go to a workshop, it is important to give these details to the mechanic who deals with the wheel adjustment, depending on how many passengers you know that are usually traveling in your car and what amount of load it has.
Before adjusting the angles, the tires must be checked for the correct pressure.
How much does a wheel alignment cost?
Wheel adjustment is a very simple operation for a specialized service. Prices range from $50- $200, depending on the repair shop you go to.
Therefore, as you have already figured it out, wheel alignment is important from many points of view. Check the tires out regularly and adjust the alignment, if need be.