Tire Alignment: What You Need to Know
The unsung hero of vehicle maintenance—tire alignment. Although it is super important, it often slips through the cracks.
Drivers often remember things like oil changes, brake work, and even rotating their tires, but wheel alignment often gets forgotten.
This oversight can be extremely dangerous. Misaligned tires not only wear out sooner, leading to costly replacement, but they also compromise your vehicle’s handling.
Here’s what you need to know about this important service.
What is Tire Alignment?
Tire alignment—also known as wheel alignment—involves adjusting the angles of the tires so they meet manufacturers specifications.
A tire alignment makes sure that your tires are pointed straight, parallel to each other, and at the right angle.
It’s more about the suspension than the tires themselves.
How to Know When You Need It
There are several signs that will tell you your vehicle needs an alignment:
- Uneven tire wear
- Vehicle pulls to one side
- Steering wheel vibration
- Misaligned steering wheel
What is Done During an Alignment
During a wheel alignment, a mechanic will either adjust three main alignment angles—camber, caster, and toe. In the case of a four-wheel alignment, all four wheels are aligned to the center of the vehicle.
Camber: The inward or outward tilt of the tire when viewed from the front.
Caster: The angle of your wheel’s pivot.
Toe: The extent to which your tires turn inward or outward when viewed from above.
Why It’s Important
Tire alignment is important for many reasons:
Safety: Misaligned tires can cause a vehicle to pull to one side which leads to difficulty with steering and handling.
Tire life: Misaligned tires can lead to uneven tire wear.
Fuel efficiency: Misaligned tires can make the vehicle work harder, which means it burns more fuel.
Consequences of Neglecting Tire Alignment
Skipping a tire alignment can have the following consequences:
- Rapid tire wear
- Higher fuel costs
- Possible damage to the vehicle
Tire alignment might seem like an unimportant part of vehicle maintenance, but the implications are huge.
It’s important to check your tires regularly and pay attention to how your vehicle performs on the road. Regular service can ensure a safer, smoother, and more cost-friendly drive.