Wheel Alignment – Montgomery, AL

Wheel Alignment Services in Montgomery

Wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of your vehicle’s front and rear suspension parts. The alignment of your vehicle is impacted daily by simple driving hazards, such as potholes and railroad crossings to more severe circumstances, such as, hitting the curb or a minor car accident. Any of these situations can knock your vehicle out of alignment. Your wheel alignment should be checked if you hit something substantial, if you see a wear pattern developing on the outer edges of the tires or if you notice a difference in your vehicle’s handling, such as, a pulling to one side or the other. If your wheel alignment is off; your vehicle is not safe to drive.

Correct wheel alignment is essential to good handling capability of your vehicle and plays an important role in tire life. Misalignment and improper inflation are considered the two principal causes of premature tire wear. Improper wheel alignment can reduce a tire’s life by more than 70%. The effect is so great, in some extreme cases, a new set of tires can be completely worn out in a modest week-end trip.

Signs of Incorrect Wheel Alignment Include:

•Vibration
•Shimmy
•Pulling to one side or the other

One of the most common indicators of misalignment is for the vehicle to pull to one side. If the vehicle has a tendency to wander or pull to one side or the other, when driven at highway speeds, there is an issue with the wheel alignment. If you notice, when you’re driving on the highway, that the vehicle starts edging to one side or the other rather than maintaining a straight line when you loosen your grip on the steering wheel for just a second, you likely have an wheel alignment problem.

Causes of Misalignment Include:

•Aggressive cornering
•Hard braking
•Road Hazards
•Hitting or bumping a curb
•Minor car accident or fender bender

When a vehicle that is out of alignment is driven, the tires will wear unevenly, usually on an outer or inner edge on just one side. To avoid damaging your tires, and to make sure the wheel alignment problem doesn’t get worse, it’s important to correct the situation as soon as possible.

What is a Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment is making sure the wheels of the vehicle are perpendicular to the road and making sure the wheels are parallel to each other. Wheel alignment involves adjusting the wheels to specifications set by the vehicle manufacturer so they track in a straight line. Mechanics often talk of a front-end alignment since the front wheels are more often the ones that become misaligned.

When your Performance Auto Repair technician does your wheel alignment, several measurements are checked and adjusted if necessary. These measurements include camber, caster, and toe. This is all done with computerized, laser leveled, alignment machines.

How are Wheels Aligned

Alignment involves adjusting all the angles of the wheels so they have the proper caster, camber and toe.

Three Main Adjustments of Wheel Alignment

•Camber
•Caster
•Toe

Camber

Camber is the angle of the wheel when viewed from the front of the vehicle. If the wheel leans to far to one side or the other it will cause the tires to wear unevenly.

•Positive camper is when the top of the wheel is leaning “away” from the car. To much positive camber wears the tires on the outside.

•Negative camber is when the top of the wheel is leaning “in” toward the car. To much negative camber will wear the tires on the inside.

The camber angle is designed and adjusted for each vehicle to keep the tread of the tires flat on the ground while the wheels are turning. If there is to much difference between the camber settings on the front wheels, the vehicle tends to pull sharply to one side.

Caster

The caster refers to the forward or rearward tilt of the steering axis which is measured from the top of the tire when viewed from the side. The axis is formed by extending an imaginary line through the upper and lower steering knuckles. The line extends through the upper and lower ball joints on vehicles with front control arms, and through the lower ball joint to the center of the strut mount on vehicles with struts.

•Positive caster occurs when the angle is toward the “rear” of the vehicle. Positive caster makes your front wheels act as if your car was being pulled from the front so the tires line up behind the point of pull.

•Negative caster occurs when the angle is to the “front” of the vehicle.

Caster is set so your vehicle tends to go straight ahead. Caster affects your vehicle’s low-speed steering and high-speed stability, as well as, how well your vehicle drives in a straight line. Negative caster will cause your vehicle to “wander” and make it feel unstable at high speeds. Positive caster causes hard steering and can also result in excessive road shock and shimmy. Caster does not affect tire wear.

Toe

Toe is the difference in the distance between the front of the tires and the back of the tires. Toe settings affect the handling characteristics of the vehicle when turning.

•Toe-in is when the front of the tires are closer together. Toe-in introduces understeer going into a curve. If the tires are “toed-in”, the tire tread will be “worn off” starting from the outside edge of the tire.

•Toe-out is when the rear of the tires are closer together. Toe-out can introduce oversteer in a curve and makes the vehicle feel like it is “diving” sharply into the turn. If the tires are “toed-out”, the wear will start on the inside or the side of the tire towards the under side of the vehicle. This type of wear is called “feathering” and can be felt by running your hands across the tread of the tire.

When Do I Need to Check My Wheel Alignment?

Each vehicle has factory specifications for camber, caster and toe which should be followed precisely. Improper wheel alignment not only causes poor handling and premature tread wear, it also reduces fuel efficiency. The wheel alignment of your vehicle can be knocked out of adjustment from simple daily impacts such as potholes and railroad crossings.
You would want to have your vehicle’s wheel alignment checked by Performance Auto Repair if:

•You know you have hit something with your wheel
•You see distinct wear on the shoulders of the tires
•You see uneven wear only on one side of the tire
•You see one tire is worn more than the others
•You notice a change in the way your vehicle handles, such as, vibration, wandering or the vehicle pulls to one side or the other

When your steering wheel is pointing straight forward and the car veers to the left or right is a definite indicator of faulty wheel alignment. If your vehicle has gotten to the point of pulling to one side the tires are under extreme distress and the longer it is before a wheel alignment the more damage will be done to the tires.

Most manufactures recommend the wheels be aligned once every 6 months or 6,000 miles. If you have hit something it is recommended to have the alignment checked immediately to ensure proper alignment prior to any tire damage.

Benefits of Having Proper Wheel Alignment

Save Fuel

When the wheels of the vehicle are not properly aligned there is uneven pressure on the tires. This will lead to them pushing against each other which will cause uneven friction and much more resistance from the road surface. This means that your vehicle will have to work much harder to move forward. This extra work will require your vehicle to burn more fuel to compensate for the extra power needed.

When you align the wheels properly there is less friction and much less resistance from the road surface. Proper wheel alignment results in a much smoother drive which will help your vehicle to run properly, therefore, eliminating the additional work on the tires which caused the vehicle to burn an increased amount of fuel.

Extends the Life of Tires

The importance of proper wheel alignment cannot be emphasized enough when referring to wear and tear on your tires. More resistance to the road surface means more pressure on the rubber of the tire. This will lead to uneven wear of the tires. Uneven wear means the tires are worn or “bald” on one side. When the tires wear unevenly they will have to be replaced a lot sooner than normal. Making sure your vehicle has proper alignment will help extend the life of the tires.

Safety

When the tires are worn on one side they will hit the road unevenly. Driving a vehicle that pulls to one side or the other creates a safety issue. Driving with faulty wheel alignment will increase the amount of time required when braking. Faulty alignment also increases the difficulty of driving on wet or iced road conditions.

Less Strain on the Vehicle

When the vehicle is driven with improper alignment it will cause extreme stress and strain on other systems of the automobile. Having a proper wheel alignment will help reduce this negative impact and damage that could be caused to your vehicle. Driving with faulty alignment will cause damage to other systems and components of the vehicle and lead to major repairs.

Negative Effects of Improper Wheel Alignment

Having a vehicle with faulty wheel alignment will lead to other connection problems for your automobile. The brake shaft does not work at optimal levels and will cause difficulty in braking. The vehicle pulling to one side will cause problems in the steering system. Improper alignment will also cause problems with the suspension system of your automobile. The suspension system of your vehicle is made up of complicated and delicately balanced parts. These parts must remain in perfect balance. When the vehicle pulls to one side it will through off the balance of the suspension system parts.

Wheel alignment is not the same as wheel balance; however, both are extremely important in the life of the tire and proper functioning of your vehicle. At Performance Auto Repair our Advanced Level ASE Certified Technicians will explain the difference between proper wheel balance and a wheel alignment. Our highly trained, expert technicians will not only inspect your vehicle to make sure it is in proper running condition, but they will make sure your tires are properly balanced and aligned. Performance Auto offers the vehicle service and wheel alignment Montgomery, AL residents trust.

Call Performance Auto Repair for Wheel Alignment in Montgomery today! (334) 245-6600