Besides the engine, the wheels are the most important parts on an automobile. Without wheels, the automobile is not mobile. If you have wheels but they’re not aligned, you shouldn’t drive the car. Wheel alignments are designed to reduce the wear and tear on the tires and to make sure the vehicle drives straight along a level surface. The wheel alignment affects the handling on your car and the overall quality of the ride. When the alignment is off, it affects the tire wear, acceleration, power, brakes, tracking, and steering. If you are not sure if your wheels are aligned, learn about the alignment service, camber, the damage misalignment can cause, and what you can do to prevent it.
All About the Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment entails having all four wheels on a vehicle literally pointing in the same direction. The alignment is usually a positive or negative camber, toe, or caster alignment. People who drive passenger vehicles only to commute should have only the necessary minimum amount of negative camber. Caster is the angle of the steering pivot when you turn the steering wheel on a pivot which is attached to the suspension system. Unlike the camber angle, the caster is not adjustable and has almost no effect on the tire wear.
There are specific alignment requirements and suspension component maintenance that keep the important components working together. This includes the steering system, shock absorbers, and springs. Keeping the tires aligned can be a difficult job in some circumstances. From just a glance, it may appear that the wheels are aligned. However, when the angles are measured, it is commonly found that they are not. When the wheels are aligned, it is a temporary condition.
As you drive, the accuracy of the alignment diminishes, especially when the vehicle is driven roughly. Vehicles with front wheel drive have their own types of alignment problems. An axle rotates the wheels on your car and also helps to support the vehicle’s weight. You can have problems with the front axle, rear, or stub. If the vehicle hits a pothole or scrapes the curb, these things will instantaneously affect the wheel alignment.
How Long Does a Wheel Alignment Take?If there is nothing major wrong with your car, the alignment should take about half an hour to an hour. However, if you take your car to the garage without an appointment, you may have wait in addition to the hour. The time also depends on whether or not you’re getting other things done. If the alignment is not the only service, the wait will be much longer than an hour.
The cost of the wheel alignment could range from $60 to $100 per tire. You can also purchase lifetime alignment services for every 6,000 miles, which differ greatly in price. Driving with tires that need alignment causes accidents.
Wheel Alignment and Power Steering
A direct relationship exists between the power steering in an automobile and the wheel alignment in that the state of the wheel alignment effects the amount of energy is required to operate the steering wheel. Power steering is a component of the driving experience that uses a hydraulic pump to pressurize power steering fluid. The power steering improves the steering ratio and the required effort to turn the steering wheel is offset.
This means that less effort is required to turn the steering wheel. The steering axis inclination (SAI), also referred to as the king pin inclination (KPI), is the measure of the steering pivot line from the front view of the vehicle. When the SAI and the camber angle are added together, they form an included angle which causes a slight lift when you turn away from traveling straight ahead. The weight of car is used to drive the steering wheel back to the center position after the turn.
When the wheels are misaligned, the steering wheel may not return to the center position. If the steering wheel is shaking, that means the tire problem is in the front. Also, the steering wheel may vibrate and will be very difficult to turn. When you travel at high speeds, your tires must rotate at a faster rate. Therefore, driving faster makes the vehicle prone to many opportunities for problems in the steering and suspension systems. The misaligned tire or tire with excessive camber or caster angle will lose its shape or the tire thread may separate. Tires that need balancing because the suspension system is not properly angled will cause problems.
Wheel Alignment and Camber
Camber can be described as the way that the tire is tilted from the front view of the vehicle. Camber can also be described as an angle on which the tire and wheel can lie relative to the road. The camber angle is the measure of the difference between the surface of the road and the vertical, perpendicular alignment of the wheel so that they are all parallel to each other.
The camber angles on a car are very important aspect of the wheel position on the frames. It is common to have trouble with the wheel and hub bearings because of time, wear and tear, mistakes during installation, and other problems. The tire and hub areas must be kept clean and the wheels must be rotated from time to time. When the wheel is left on the car for a long time, (maybe the owner has not driven the car for a long time), the metal parts will become corroded, frozen, or rusted due to the environment. If the tires have not been rotated periodically, debris, rust or corrosion is guaranteed to set in.
Many people wonder what is the correct angle for the wheels. The position of the wheel is determined by the size of the rims, wheel spacers, or offset. The vehicle stance is measured by the suspension height and tire and wheel fitment in the fender arches. The most appropriate camber settings depend on the type of vehicle and what the vehicle is used for. When the camber is not the same for all of the tires, you will feel a pulling when you drive.
When the wheels are not properly aligned, the tires wear prematurely and other problems arise, such as excessive play in the steering wheel, driver fatigue, suspension failure and dangerous driving conditions. Wheel alignment is a method of adjusting the wheels on the vehicle to ensure the track is straight and that overall, the wheels are contributing top performance. Zero camber generates the most uniform wear of the tires over time. If the alignment is not found to be the problem, It could mean that one of the tires has a problem, or all of the tires may need to be changed out.
How Do You Know IF You Need an Alignment?
Misaligned wheels are of the easiest automotive problems to detect. Your vehicle definitely will not drive the same. There are several ways that your car will let you know that there is a problem. This problem is urgent as the misalignment puts pressure on the suspension. If you suspect you need an alignment, see if you have noticed any of these symptoms:
Pulling to the right or left – The alignment becomes altered when the car is in an accident, driving on uneven roads, and when the car hits or scrapes things like the curb, potholes, speed bumps. In these cases, the car usually starts to pull either to the right or the left.
Steering wheel hard to turn – The steering wheel may be crooked while you are driving straight, or it just may be hard to turn. The steering wheel is harder to turn because the tires are harder to turn. Adding air to the tires is a simple fix to problem. However, if that doesn’t work, you may need an alignment. In some cases, the steering wheel may do just the opposite and feel very loose. Another sign of trouble is if the steering wheel vibrates.
Noisy steering – Problems in the tires automatically spread to the steering because the steering column is connected to the suspension system. You may hear loud noises coming from the steering when the car is on and you try to turn it.
Uneven, premature tire wear – The wheels wear out much faster when they are not aligned. When the wheels have too much negative camber, they will wear at a faster rate. The tires will wear on the inside or outside in uneven patterns. Do a visual inspection of your vehicle. If you see unusual tire wear, try to match the camber settings of wheels opposite to each other. Make sure the negative camber settings are the same.
Squealing, uneven tires – It’s normal for the wheel to screech or squeal when you turn the corner if the wheels are not aligned. What’s more, the tires will wear out at different paces. Check the inside of the tire compared to the outside. You will the tread is gone in some places while in some places the tread on the tire looks fine. The depth of the tread may be noticeably different.
Go to the Car Garage
If your car has given one or more of these symptoms, you need to have the car inspected. Car manuals state when and how often certain parts of the vehicle must be serviced, to include things like wheel alignment and tire rotations. You are also required to get brakes, steering, and suspension inspections. Wheel alignments are designed to reduce the wear and tear on the tires and to make sure the vehicle drives smoothly along a level surface. Have the tires balanced with dynamic, static, or road force balancing. Dynamic balancing will balance the tires from side-to-side and up and down. The static balancing will balance only from up to down.
Wheel alignments affect the ease of handling on your car and the overall quality of the ride. When the vehicle is not being serviced regularly, the parts of the suspension system are wearing down with no treatment. The rust and corrosion buildup will worse. Also, you will notice the difference during turns. The vehicle will seem unstable while cornering. This a sign that you should not continue to drive the vehicle until the system is inspected.
Go to the auto repair shop and get an alignment. Most of these alignments are to the camber, caster, and toe. The tire alignment will reset the camber in the front and rear suspension. The wheel alignments can also help to put the steering and the wheels back in sync. Regardless of what the problem is with the steering system and the suspension. Thus, it is never a bad idea to have your wheels aligned by professionals. The technician can even readjust the suspension back to the factory settings using certain tools.