Why wheel alignment is important?
Adjusting the wheel alignment is extremely important both for the safety of the car and for the costs involved in ignoring this technical aspect. Incorrect adjustment of the wheels of the car leads to premature tire wear. 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. The bearings can be destroyed and even the control of the car can be lost.
Why wheel alignment is necessary?
Wheel alignment is checked to identify certain incorrect settings, wear or even defective parts. This adjustment minimizes tire wear, reduces car fuel consumption, ensures safe steering and allows for effective braking. The existence of major disruptions in wheel alignment can even lead to the loss of control of the car.
When wheel alignment is needed?
It is advisable to check the alignment when the driver has hit a pothole with the wheels, you climbed a high border with speed or other obstacles that could affect the wheel assembly. Also, it is advisable to check it when you notice that the steering wheel does not respond correctly to the maneuvers you make in turns, but also when the car “pulls” left or right when driving and you keep the steering wheel straight. Also, it is necessary to check the wheel alignment when you find uneven tire wear when changing parts such as pivots and even when changing tires and you hear a rattle on the tires even at low speeds.
Is there a difference between wheel alignment and wheel balancing?
Sometimes there is confusion between these two operations, but they are not related to each other. Adjusting the parallelism or alignment consists of adjusting the wheel angles to become perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Instead, balancing a wheel allows the wheel to spin without vibrating at certain speeds.
How important is weight distribution when adjusting angles?
There are some aspects to be followed when checking the wheel alignment:
- – The camber angle. This term refers to the angle formed by the wheel when viewed from the front or back. If you did not know, the wheels of your car are not perfectly vertical, they have a slope, and the angle made by the axis of the wheels with the vertical is called camber angle. Uneven tire wear occurs precisely when this angle is too large.
- – Toe angle. Toe angle is the only one that adjusts to any car, without special auxiliary devices and defines the position of the wheels seen from above and is given by the difference of the distance between the front and the rear two wheels on the same axle. 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 an understeer in turns. If it is too large, the tires will be worn starting from the outer parts. We are talking about a negative toe angle (divergence angle) 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.
What about the caster angle?
Caster angle expresses the difference between a straight line perpendicular to the ground and the axis of the pivot of rotation of the wheel. This is the basis of the stability at high speeds and the angle of turning. Its adjustment is almost impossible (theoretically), 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 services.
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. Excessive loading or performing this type of operation with an empty car implies that the compression on the elastic elements of the suspension is variable and implicitly leads to variable positions for the wheel elements.
What needs to be checked before alignment begins?
Therefore, the adjustment is made taking into account the car manufacturer’s manual regarding the car loading when performing the wheel adjustment operation. Depending on the current mode of use of the car, loaded with two passengers for example, or loaded with five passengers and luggage, the wheel alignment is adjusted correctly.
So, when you go to a specialized service, 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 on your car and what amount of load it has.
Before adjusting the angles, the tires must be checked for the correct pressure.
How long does wheel alignment take?
The angle adjustment operation takes between 20 minutes and 40 minutes, depending on the car.
This operation is very important for the safety point of view of the passengers, but also of the other participants in the traffic, as it can lead to particularly serious accidents. Also, it prevents irregular tire wear, provides a better grip on the car and reduces fuel consumption.
How much does wheel alignment cost?
Wheel adjustment is a very simple operation for a specialized service. Prices range from $ 50- $ 100, depending on the service you go to.
Therefore, taking care of your car wheel alignment ensures you a car that will run safely. Do not forget! it is good for the wheels to spin on the road, respecting all the important elements and rules of physics so that it is safe for you and the other road traffic participants. Of course, we want this, and for our safety, we must take care of this aspect. Drive safe!
Featured image by Mike Peel (mikepeel.com)