Vehicle wheel alignment plays a critical role in how your car or truck drives. The angle of the tires can change how the car goes down the road, and if the alignment is off far enough, the vehicle can wander badly and be hard to steer in corners.
Signs Of Alignment Issues
Many times the first sign of alignment issues with your vehicle is a change in the handling. If the vehicle is wandering, pulling to one side, or not turning corners well, you may need a wheel alignment and front suspension inspection.
As the front suspension parts wear, they can allow more movement in the steering and suspension system, allowing the tires and wheels to wander out of spec. Typically this starts as a minor misalignment, but if it goes unnoticed, it can worsen with time, causing poor handling. Regular vehicle service and inspection can help because the tech will check the front suspension parts, and wheel alignment issues can be corrected before they become a problem.
Tire wear is also common with wheel alignment issues, and the biggest difference is that the tires on the front of the vehicle will nearly always wear erratically. One edge of the tire may wear while the other does not because the tire is angled in or out instead of sitting correctly on the road surface. Not all tire wear is due to wheel alignment issues, but wear that doesn't occur across the entire tire needs to be investigated.
Camber And Toe Adjustments
Correct wheel alignment is essential because it keeps the camber and toe of the front end where they should be. The toe is the angle at which the front edge tire is pointing in or out. Proper toe often aligns the tires toward each other slightly, but the angle can vary from one car to the next.
The camber setting is the angle that the tires lean in or out from top to bottom and can affect wear on the inner or outer edge of the tire. Too much positive or negative camber can make the car very hard to handle, making the car feel like it is driving on a slippery surface.
In both cases, the best way to ensure the settings are correct is to put the car on an alignment rack and measure the front end carefully. If the wheel alignment is off, the tech can use the computer targeting system on the alignment rack to determine how much adjustment is necessary and bring the alignment back to manufacturer specs if the suspension parts are all in good shape.
To learn more about wheel alignment, reach out to an auto shop.