Why do I need a wheel alignment on my vehicle?

When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Jamestown can cause your vehicle’s wheels to be out of alignment.

Driving for an extended time around Chautauqua County when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded NY highway. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.

The ideal alignment for your vehicle was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at Tanners Garage starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then your friendly and knowledgeable Tanners technician will look at tire condition.

From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to vehicle’s specifications.

Your vehicle owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at Tanners Garage before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.

    Front End Toe Setting

Front end alignment toe setting angles

This is the most common angle set during a wheel alignment. All vehicles have adjustable front toe settings and some even have adjustable rear toe settings.

When the rear end of the vehicle is adjustable it is known as a four wheel alignment. Four wheel alignments usually cost extra but are necessary on vehicles that have rear adjustments.

All rear adjustments are made prior to taking readings on the front wheels. If the rear settings are out it can cause the vehicle to dog track. This is a condition where the rear end of the vehicle is out of alignment with the front as it travels down the road.

Toe is the distance comparison between the front edges and rear edges of the tires and exactly how far apart they are from each-other.

If the front of the tire is measured and the reading is less than the reading taken at the back of the tires this is known as a toe in condition.

If the vehicle has too much toe in, not only will the tires wear faster but this can also cause unnecessary drag. Drag or rolling resistance might reduce fuel economy if out of specifications.

Professional 1/4 mile racers always set their front toe to zero or at least as close as they can get to it. This means that there is no toe in or toe out. This provides the best rolling condition with less tire friction. Most passenger vehicles will require some toe in for stability and to prevent wandering.

     About Caster Settings

Caster Alignment Angle

My automotive instructor always referenced a shopping carts front wheels when discussing this angle. Castor is the angle of the steering axis of a wheel as viewed from the side of the vehicle.

There are three types of Castor measurements. Zero Castor is when the wheel is completely vertical and centered. Negative Castor is when the top of the wheel is slightly towards the back of the vehicle.

Positive Castor is when the top of the wheel is forward and towards the front of the vehicle. Your standard shopping cart uses a lot of positive Castor. This helps it set out straight again after you spin it around in the aisle to head in the opposite direction.

When you swing your shopping cart around it tends to straighten itself and track straight due to this positive Castor setting. An incorrect caster setting can cause both a pulling and a wandering condition.

The caster setting is also responsible for straightening the wheels automatically when you come out of a turn. If the steering wheel is slow to return to the center position on the car then this would be an indication that a caster adjustment may be needed.

 Camber Wheel Alignment Settings

Camber Alignment Angle

Camber is the angle represented by the tilt of either the front or rear wheels inward or outward as viewed from the front of the car. It is designed into the vehicle to compensate for road crown, passenger weight, as well as the total curb weight.

This is why, when you take your vehicle in for a front end alignment it should be loaded the way it is normally used. If you have a load of bricks in the trunk you should remove them before taking the car in for this procedure.

Camber angles are usually set equally for each wheel on the automobile. A negative setting would mean that the top of the wheel is tilted inward compared to the bottom of the wheel.

A positive Camber setting is the opposite, as in the top of the wheel is tilted out and away from the automobile compared to the bottom of the wheel. The camber angle can be affected by worn or loose ball joints, and worn out control arm bushings that have excess play.

Also wheel bearings that are not properly adjusted or extremely worn can through off this angle. In closing the Name Camber also makes for a good girls name for car loving parents. I can’t take credit for it because I saw this on an episode of Car warriors on the speed channel.

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