Why are wheel alignments so important?
Poor gas mileage, vibration in your steering wheel, and worn out tires are all symptoms of a misalignment.
Your car leaves the factory with the front wheels set at very specific, precise angles for the best ride quality, steering response, handling, and road holding properties. These steering angles are:
- Toe-in, the inward tilt of the wheels (as seen from above)
- Toe-out, the opposite of toe-in
- Camber, the inward or outward tilt of the top of the wheel (as seen from the front)
- Caster, the wheel's position fore-and-aft
These angles can all be knocked out of spec by hitting a pothole, railroad tracks or a curb, or even by driving on roads that are not smooth resulting in handling problems. Signs of out-of-spec alignment include:
- Persistent pull to left or right on flat, straight pavement
- Steering wheel doesn't center readily after rounding a corner ("poor returnability")
- Steering feels "heavy" or clumsy
- Uneven tire wear along inside or outside edge of tires
Alignment is set on a precision piece of equipment called an alignment rack, with the technician making minute adjustments on suspension linkages. Poor wheel alignment means more than just an inconvenience -- it can wear tires prematurely, and tire wear that results from poor alignment isn't covered under a tire warranty.
It doesn't take much deviation from spec to cause a real problem -- with no steering correction from the driver, a car with front wheels only 1/8" out of alignment would drift 28 feet off of a straight line over the course of a mile!
Don't put up with a car that drives poorly, and end up replacing your tires sooner than you should have to. Make an appointment with us for a wheel alignment!