Wheel Alignment And Why It Is Important

October 16, 2014

[Written by Krishna King] Imagine taking a relaxing drive on the South Shore on a beautiful warm day. Now imagine driving on South Shore on the same day with your wheels pointing in the wrong direction. Not so great, right?

That’s why wheel alignment is so important. Alignment is a complex topic covering a variety of terms and a smorgasbord of parts, but basically, what you need to know is that when your wheels are out of alignment, your tyres not only aren’t pointing in the right direction which will affect your steering, suspension, and durability of your tyres but more importantly your safety is affected.

Now that you know why wheel alignment is important, it is important to recognize a few indicators that your car is likely out of alignment. Uneven tire wear often is a prime indicator.

Here are a few more:

  • Your car seems to be drifting to one side, even when you think you’re driving straight
  • Your steering wheel vibrates
  • You are driving straight, but your steering wheel isn’t centered

There are many ways for your car to lose its alignment. It doesn’t take much. You might be familiar with some of these causes, but what you probably did not know was that each one could do quite a number on your car.
Look out for:

  • Pot holes
  • Hitting the curb
  • Bumping into concrete parking stalls
  • Wear and tear as your vehicle ages

Most likely, you will notice something is wrong when you are driving. Your vehicle will probably not drive as well as it should and in the most extreme cases, you could have a pretty difficult time maintaining control of your ride altogether.

While this is inconvenient, it can be avoided by ensuring your wheels are aligned before there is a problem. One tip we give to drivers is to have your alignment checked every other oil change. It will make your tyres last longer.

If it has been awhile since your last alignment, it’s time for a checkup.

“I’m sure you are wondering what happens if you do not adjust the alignment as soon as it is needed. Alignment angles are measured in tenths and hundredths of degrees or inches. Over time, even a slight misalignment can cause a lot of uneven or premature tire wear. You will spend a lot of money on new tyres. The longer you wait for an alignment, the more your tyres will wear down. It’s that simple.”

So you’ve realised that you need an alignment, but what happens during the alignment?

A car alignment is a complicated process that brings the car’s suspension into its proper configuration, essentially squaring a car’s wheels and axles with each other so that they are moving in the same direction. An experienced mechanic should perform the alignment with a special machine built for this purpose. Newer alignment machines feature clamp-like devices that are attached to the wheels of the car – when it is raised up in the air – and that link to a computer that takes precise measurements. The mechanic adjusts the various suspension angles – known as toe, thrust, camber and caster – that influence tyre movement and position so that wheels are aligned with one another and the road surface. The technician will also ensure that the steering wheel is centered and that no other suspension components are excessively worn or broken.

Getting your wheels aligned when it is needed is much better than waiting until your car has other problems. Take your vehicle into your mechanic today and have it checked out — just in case.

Krishna King has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry and chairs the Automotive Occupational Advisory Committee for the National Training Board. For more information on automobile maintenance, contact Krishna King at Bermuda Motors: 292-0893 or KKing@bermudamotors.bm. Website: www.bermudamotors.bm

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  1. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    It Wou;d be great if Bernews would have a D.I.Y. section
    available every day.