Wheel alignments may not be the first thing that springs to mind when getting in your car, but it is something that motorists need to be aware of and take very seriously. Issues with wheel alignments can create all kinds of issues and can make the car dangerous to drive, but fortunately, issues can be easy to prevent and spot when you know how.
What is Wheel Alignment?
So, what exactly is wheel alignments? Essentially, alignment is an adjustment to a vehicle’s suspension which is what connects the vehicle to the tyre. In addition to an adjustment of the tyres, this also refers to adjusting the angles of the tyres so that they make contact with the road properly. A good comparison is to think about how someone stands will affect their entire body, such as where their feet are positioned and at what angle their feet are. The main areas that a mechanic will check when aligning wheels are:
Camber – The inward or outward angle of the tyre when viewed from the front
Toe – The extent to which the tyres point inward or outward when viewed from above
Caster – Caster angle balances steering with steering axis towards the driver known as positive caster and steering axis tilted towards the front of the vehicle called negative caster
Wheel alignment is hugely important in terms of safety and performance, so it is important that you know how to spot symptoms that could indicate misalignment. The most obvious symptoms relate to the steering and include the car drifting to one side while driving straight, the steering wheel not returning easily after a turn and a steering wheel that is crooked or vibrates. Other symptoms are uneven tyre wearing and a squealing sound coming from the wheels.
Causes & Dangers
There are also a number of reasons why wheel misalignment might occur. Usually, this occurs due to a sudden jarring or heavy impact, which can occur through an accident, driving over a pothole or bumping into a curb. Other causes include parts becoming worn over time and height modification without changing the suspension height. Driving on misaligned wheels can cause all kinds of dangerous and potentially expensive issues, including greater tyre wear, reduced fuel efficiency and steering issues which can lead to accidents.
How to Prevent Misalignment
So, what can be done to avoid wheel misalignment? Driving carefully is obviously important, but you should also make sure that have quality car tyres that will perform to a high standard. It is also a good idea to get your wheel alignments checked at every opportunity and as soon as you start to notice any issues.
This post should highlight the importance of having your wheels aligned as well as help you to identify when this could be an issue for your vehicle, which should help you to stay safe on the roads and avoid expensive repairs.