The Importance of Proper Wheel Alignment: Why You Shouldn’t Neglect It

Wheel Alignment history

The concept of wheel alignment has been around since the advent of the automobile, but it has evolved over time. Here is a brief history of wheel alignment, along with some notable quotes:

  1. Early days: In the early days of the automobile, wheel alignment was not a well-understood concept. Cars were often built with a significant amount of positive camber, which helped with steering, but resulted in excessive tire wear. According to Tom Taylor, engineering manager for Firestone Complete Auto Care, “In the early days of cars, there was no understanding of wheel alignment. The only thing that mattered was getting the car to go straight.”
  2. Introduction of alignment equipment: In the 1930s, alignment equipment was introduced, allowing mechanics to adjust the camber, caster, and toe of the wheels. According to Taylor, “With the introduction of alignment equipment in the 1930s, mechanics could finally make precise adjustments to the wheels. This helped to improve handling, reduce tire wear, and improve fuel economy.”
  3. Evolution of alignment technology: Over the years, alignment technology has continued to evolve, with the introduction of computerized alignment equipment in the 1980s. According to Brad Fanshaw, host of the Car Warriors TV show, “Computerized alignment equipment allows mechanics to make more precise adjustments than ever before. They can see the exact measurements and make adjustments down to the millimeter.”
  4. Importance of wheel alignment: Today, wheel alignment is considered an important part of car maintenance. According to Richard Reina, product training director for CARiD, “Proper wheel alignment is critical for the safety of your car. It helps to prevent tire wear, improves handling, and ensures that your car is safe to drive.”

Wheel alignment has been an important part of car maintenance since the early days of the automobile. Over time, technology has evolved, allowing mechanics to make more precise adjustments and improve the safety and performance of cars.

Consequences of bad Wheel Alignment

Bad wheel alignment can have several negative consequences on your vehicle’s performance and safety. Here are some details and examples:

  1. Uneven tire wear: One of the most common consequences of bad wheel alignment is uneven tire wear. When the wheels are not properly aligned, the tires will wear out unevenly. For example, the inside or outside edge of the tire may wear out faster than the center, leading to premature tire replacement. This can be costly and dangerous, as worn tires can affect your vehicle’s handling and traction, especially in wet or slippery conditions.
  2. Reduced fuel efficiency: Bad wheel alignment can also reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Misaligned wheels can cause the tires to drag or scrub, which increases the rolling resistance of the vehicle. This means that the engine has to work harder to move the vehicle, resulting in increased fuel consumption and higher emissions.
  3. Poor handling and stability: Misaligned wheels can also cause your vehicle to handle poorly and feel unstable on the road. For example, your car may pull to one side or the steering may feel loose or unresponsive. This can affect your ability to control the vehicle, especially at high speeds or in emergency situations.
  4. Increased risk of accidents: Bad wheel alignment can increase your risk of accidents, especially in wet or slippery conditions. When the wheels are misaligned, the tires may not have proper contact with the road, which can lead to reduced traction and stability. This can make it difficult to control the vehicle and increase the risk of skidding or hydroplaning.

Bad wheel alignment can have several negative consequences on your vehicle’s performance and safety, including uneven tire wear, reduced fuel efficiency, poor handling and stability, and increased risk of accidents. It’s important to have your vehicle’s wheels aligned regularly to ensure optimal performance and safety on the road.

How to do Wheel Alignment Yourself DIY

Wheel alignment is a complex process that requires specialized tools and expertise. It is recommended that you leave this task to a professional mechanic. However, if you have some mechanical skills and are willing to invest in some equipment, you can attempt to do a basic wheel alignment yourself at home. Here are some steps, examples, and tools you may need:

  1. Find a level surface: The first step in doing a wheel alignment is to find a level surface to work on. This can be your garage floor or a flat driveway. Make sure the surface is level and has enough space for you to work around the vehicle.
  2. Set up the equipment: You will need a few tools to do a wheel alignment, including a camber gauge, a caster gauge, a toe gauge, and a jack and jack stands. These tools can be purchased at an auto parts store or online. Once you have the tools, set them up according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Check the tire pressure: Before doing a wheel alignment, you should check the tire pressure and make sure it is at the recommended level. This will ensure accurate readings when measuring the wheel angles.
  4. Measure the angles: Use the gauges to measure the camber, caster, and toe angles of each wheel. These measurements will tell you if the wheels are properly aligned or if adjustments need to be made.
  5. Make adjustments: If the angles are out of spec, you can make some basic adjustments at home. For example, you can adjust the camber by loosening the bolts that hold the strut to the steering knuckle and using a wrench to turn the strut. You can adjust the toe by turning the tie rod ends. However, it’s important to note that making adjustments to the wheel angles requires a high level of precision, and even a small error can lead to improper alignment, resulting in safety hazards.
  6. Test drive the vehicle: After making adjustments, test drive the vehicle to make sure it handles properly and doesn’t pull to one side.

Doing a wheel alignment at home requires specialized tools and a high level of mechanical expertise. It is recommended that you leave this task to a professional mechanic to ensure accurate and safe results.

Proper Wheel Alignment

Having properly aligned wheels is essential for ensuring the safety, performance, and longevity of your vehicle. The wheels are what keep your vehicle on the road and maintain contact with the ground, making them critical to your vehicle’s handling, stability, and efficiency. Improper wheel alignment can lead to a host of problems, including uneven tire wear, decreased fuel economy, and dangerous driving conditions.

Uneven tire wear is one of the most obvious signs of improper wheel alignment. If your wheels are not aligned properly, one or more of your tires will bear the brunt of the weight of your vehicle. This leads to excessive wear on the outside edges or inside edges of your tires, which can make your vehicle harder to control, especially at high speeds. Over time, this wear can cause your tires to fail and lead to blowouts or other dangerous situations on the road.

In addition to uneven tire wear, improper wheel alignment can also negatively impact your vehicle’s fuel economy. When your wheels are not aligned correctly, your vehicle will have to work harder to maintain a straight course. This results in increased rolling resistance, which can decrease your fuel economy by as much as 10 percent. This not only means you’ll have to spend more money on gas, but it also contributes to air pollution and other environmental problems.

Finally, improper wheel alignment can make your vehicle dangerous to drive. When your wheels are misaligned, your vehicle will pull to one side or the other, making it difficult to control. This can be especially dangerous on winding roads or in adverse weather conditions, where you need to be able to respond quickly and accurately to changes in road conditions. Additionally, misaligned wheels can cause your vehicle to wander and make it more difficult to steer, which can increase the risk of an accident.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to have your wheels aligned regularly. Most manufacturers recommend having your wheels aligned every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or at least once a year. During a wheel alignment, a professional technician will use special equipment to measure the angles of your wheels and adjust them as needed to ensure they are in the proper position. This will help prolong the life of your tires, improve your fuel economy, and keep you safe on the road.

So don’t neglect the importance of proper wheel alignment. Take your vehicle to a reputable mechanic or tire specialist and have your wheels aligned today. Your vehicle, your tires, and your wallet will thank you.

How to choose good Wheel Alignment shop?

Choosing a good wheel alignment shop is crucial to ensure that your vehicle’s wheels are properly aligned, which can help improve its performance and safety. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a wheel alignment shop:

  1. Reputation: Look for a shop with a good reputation in the community. You can ask for referrals from friends and family or check online reviews and ratings.
  2. Certification: Choose a shop that is certified by a reputable organization such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This ensures that the technicians have the necessary training and expertise to perform wheel alignments.
  3. Equipment: Look for a shop that has modern and up-to-date equipment, as this can improve the accuracy of the alignment.
  4. Experience: Choose a shop with experienced technicians who have worked on a variety of vehicles and have a good understanding of wheel alignment.
  5. Warranty: Look for a shop that offers a warranty or guarantee on their work. This can give you peace of mind knowing that the alignment will be done correctly and any issues will be addressed.
  6. Price: While price is important, it should not be the only factor to consider. Avoid choosing a shop based solely on the lowest price, as this may indicate that they are cutting corners or using inferior equipment.
  7. Customer service: Choose a shop that provides good customer service, including clear communication, timely updates, and a willingness to answer your questions.

When choosing a wheel alignment shop, consider their reputation, certification, equipment, experience, warranty, price, and customer service. Taking the time to choose a reputable shop can help ensure that your vehicle’s wheels are properly aligned, which can improve its performance and safety.