Thursday, March 31, 2016

Alignments -- What? Why? When?

At one time or another, we've all had a car that has needed an alignment.  We may have hit a pot hole, endured a cold winter with lots of freezing temperatures, or even just had some repair work done on a vehicle.

As such, you might be wondering what exactly an alignment is or does. An alignment adjusts the angles of the tires on your vehicle to ensure the most efficient and safe drivability. There are three components to an alignment: the camber, caster, and toe.

The camber is the angle of the wheels in proportion to the road.  If a tire is perfectly perpendicular the camber would be 0 degrees.  If a tire leans in toward the vehicle, it would be negative camber, and if a tire leans out away from the vehicle, it would be positive camber.  Each make and model of vehicle has it's own specifications set up by the manufacturer as to the degree of camber.

Caster is the angle of the tire as attached to the vehicle.  You will have a zero degree caster if the point of contact is perpendicular to the road.  The caster will be positive if the angle of the point of contact is angled forward, and negative if the point of contact is angled backward.

Finally, toe is the angle the tires are turned in towards the car and towards each other.  You can see the toe when you look down at the tires from above.  Positive toe is when the tires are angled in toward each other, and negative toe is when the tires are angled away from each other.

Having your tires properly aligned extends the life of your tires, steering, and suspension systems.  A vehicle that is not properly aligned, will wear tires.

What are some signs that your car might need an alignment?  Some signs that you car may need an alignment are:
  • Pulling in one direction
  • Excessive bouncing
  • Visible damage to a tire(s) or uneven tire wear
  • Loss of control when driving
  • Off-center steering wheel
  • Low tire pressure
Last December, we were able to add an alignment machine to our shop.  This way we can better serve you, our customers.  There are some repairs that require an alignment to be completed once the repair has been completed.  With our new alignment rack, now you will only have to make one stop before your car is back up and running smoothly.

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