Wheel alignment, or tracking as it is also referred to, dictates the angle in which your wheels come into contact with the road. It involves checking both the angle and the direction of the wheel, to ensure they are set to their correct position as outlined in the vehicle’s manufacturer specification.
Ideally as much of your tyre as possible should come into contact with the road. Accurate wheel alignment ensures optimal car handling – resulting in a smoother ride, longer lasting tyres and improved fuel economy.
How Do You Know If Your Wheel Alignment Is Out?
All new vehicles leave the factory with their wheels correctly aligned with the road, however everyday use of your vehicle means you will encounter varying road surfaces, bumps and pot holes – all of which can have a negative effect on the wheel alignment.
Unfortunately, poor wheel alignment will not show up on a dashboard warning notice, it is up to the driver to book the car in for regular preventative check-ups and recognise the tell-tale signs.
Typical Signs of Tyre Misalignment
Rapid and Irregular Tyre Wear
When inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations, tyres should wear evenly. Incorrect alignment can cause rapid uneven tyre wear, resulting in increased costs and poor performance.
Steering Wheel Vibration
A common complaint often caused as a result of poor wheel alignment – constant steering wheel vibration can be extremely fatiguing for the driver.
Pulling to One Side
The irregular alignment means the car will create more drag and quite often noticeably pull towards one side, even when the steering wheel is straight, also causing fatigue to the driver.
There may be audible distress, especially when turning corners.
Types of Wheel Alignment
Toe alignment refers to tyres pointing inwards or outwards, this will cause uneven tyre wear and poor performance. Correct toe alignment is paramount to even tread wear and maximum tyre life.
Camber measures the vertical tilt of the wheels, positive or negative camber can cause tyres to wear unevenly and the vehicle to pull to one side.
The angle of the steering pivot when viewed from the side of the vehicle, caster alignment can have a negative impact on steering stability.
Key Issues Caused by Wheel Misalignment
- Poor Fuel Economy
- Rapid and Irregular Tyre Wear
- Driving Quality
- Increased Braking Distance
Ways to Help Maintain Correct Wheel Alignment
- Don’t store heavy unnecessary items in the boot
- Keep your tyres inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications
- Avoid rough roads
- Drive sensibly
- Have your car checked regularly
It may not be immediately obvious that there is a problem with misalignment, however even a small amount can have a negative impact which can get worse with time.
Keeping your car wheels correctly aligned will ultimately save you money in the long run. Although bringing your car into the garage may seem like an inconvenience, it is a relatively quick and straightforward task for our expert team here at Longmynd Service Station – giving you a smoother ride in your car.