Wheel Alignment: Causes and the Need to Maintain Correct Wheel Alignment

Oct2,2023

Driving is more than just getting from point A to point B; it’s about having a safe, smooth, and fuel-efficient journey. One critical aspect of ensuring this smooth journey is wheel alignment, often overlooked by many motorists. Misaligned wheels can not only disrupt the quality of your drive but also put unnecessary strain on your vehicle, leading to further complications down the road. In this article, we will delve deep into the world of wheel alignment, understanding its significance, the reasons behind misalignment, and the benefits of maintaining correctly aligned wheels.

What is Wheel Alignment?

At its most basic, wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of the angles of the wheels relative to each other and the car’s body. It ensures that your tires are pointing straight ahead, perpendicular to the ground, and are parallel to each other, aiming to maximize tire lifespan. This allows the vehicle to travel straight and true without “pulling” to one side.

Three Main Wheel Alignment Angles

Camber

Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the top of the tire. If your tire leans too much towards the outside, you have excessive positive camber, and if it leans inwards, then it’s excessive negative camber.

Toe

Imagine looking at your feet from a bird’s-eye view. If your toes point inward, that’s “toe-in.” If they point outward, that’s “toe-out.” Similarly, this is how the tires can be positioned.

Caster

This angle helps with steering, stability, and balance. Visualize the side view of your car. Caster angle is the tilt of the steering axis (imagine a line running through the center of the front wheels). Positive caster is when the top of this axis points towards the back of your vehicle.

Causes of Wheel Misalignment

Normal Wear and Tear

As vehicles age, rubber components start deteriorating, and certain metal parts might bend or wear out. This natural aging process can shift your alignment out of its ideal specifications. Hitting a massive pothole or bumping into a curb can cause an immediate and noticeable alignment problem.

Loose or Careless Steering 

Free play refers to the looseness of the steering. There is a section of the steering wheel that doesn’t seem to matter when you go to turn. To get the 28-inch alloy wheels to move in sync with the movement, you might need to turn more. Additionally, imprecise steering could be the cause of the irregular motion. Since you don’t have full control over the car in any case, it’s dangerous and demands your immediate attention.

At Higher Speeds, the Vehicle Shakes or Vibrates

The steering wheel shouldn’t vibrate when you’re driving. If there is a problem with the suspension, steering system, tires, or wheel alignment. In certain circumstances, the entire cabin may feel the shaking. You shouldn’t ignore the vibration because as the problem worsens, so will the vibration. The shaking can make you lose control of the car in addition to being an annoyance.

Your Car Needs a Wheel Alignment

Technical Error

You might need to speak with the technician once more if you recently had the wheels aligned but the steering wheel is out of alignment. When working on the 28-inch alloy wheels, inexperienced mechanics could neglect to pay attention to the steering wheel.

Fortunately, fixing it shouldn’t take too long. However, although this is a straightforward procedure that should always be done, you might want to consider where you are having your car work conducted.

Hit a Curb or Bump

Any impact can lead to misaligned wheels. The steering wheel may become misaligned if you hit a curb or pothole too hard since the suspension system may take the majority of the force. The alignment can become out of alignment without having a serious mishap. However, the alignment should also be checked during the repairs after a collision. 

Adjusted Height

After adding a suspension lift kit to your vehicle, the alignment should always be checked. Once you add some height, you could discover that the steering wheel is no longer straight. Only the stock suspension is intended to function with your car’s suspension system. You have to either change the suspension or add new components to make room for the lift. As with any suspension modifications, you must also align the wheels to ensure a smooth, safe ride. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy working with your hands, you might save a lot of time by first inspecting the suspension before getting your wheels aligned. The mechanic won’t align the car if the suspension has worn out or broken components. 

In any case, the majority of manufacturers advise routinely checking the suspension. Check the tie rods, ball joints, shocks, and struts during the examination. Instead, take your car to a nearby mechanic.

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