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What is a Car Wheel Alignment

If you own a car and get it serviced regularly, you might be aware of the procedure known as car wheel alignment and car wheel balancing. Every manual of a car also recommends this car alignment at periodic intervals. If you are wondering about what is car alignment and why is it important to do so, this article will answer all your questions.

Contrary to what the procedure is named after, car wheel alignment is not related to your car’s wheels per se. The entire procedure of car alignment is about making adjustments to your car’s suspension system to ensure that the wheels and tyres make proper contact with the road. However, some people also like referring to this procedure as Tyre Alignment, when in reality, it is the suspension system that undergoes adjustments.

Why Does Tyre Alignment Matter

If you’re wondering why car wheel alignment is important, here’s some information to help you understand its significance.

  • Importance of Tyre

The wheels of a car are undoubtedly one of the integral parts as they help connect the car to the road. Therefore, they play a huge role in the way a car moves and handles. Anything out of the ordinary can seriously affect the way your car drives, turns and handles.

  • Non-Aligned Tyre

Non-aligned tyres can lead to excessive and premature tyre wear, requiring you to replace your tyres often. Therefore, periodic car alignment is important.

  • Steering Response

The steering response of your car can also get affected if the wheels are not aligned. This can cause you to make wrong judgements while driving, which can even lead to an unfortunate accident.

This is precisely why conducting periodic car wheel alignment is important. It can prevent all of these from happening and can extend the life of your tyres as well.

What are the Warning Signs of Misaligned Wheels

A car that has its wheels properly aligned and in tune with the manufacturer’s specifications should drive straight even when the steering wheel is not being held. Any excessive vibrations or veering to one side indicates the need to have your car wheel alignment done.

This is one of the obvious ways to determine if your car’s wheels are properly aligned or not. However, it is not the only way. Here are a few other warning signs that you should look out for:

  • Uneven Tyre Wear

Non-alignment of a car’s wheels can lead to your tyres getting worn out unevenly. A simple inspection of the tyres can tell you if your wheel alignment is off. Look for signs of uneven tread wear. If one side of the tyre appears worn out compared to the other, it’s likely that your wheels aren’t aligned.

  • Off-Centre Steering Wheel

When you’re driving your car in a straight line, keenly observe your steering wheel. If it appears off-centre or tilted to one side, it is a clear-cut indication of non-aligned wheels.

  • Vibrations on Steering Wheel

If your steering wheel vibrates excessively during normal driving or braking, it is again a sign that your car needs its wheels aligned.

Things to Notice During Tyre Alignment

Now that you know why car wheel alignment is necessary, let’s now take a look at the three important things that you should keep in mind during car wheel alignment and car wheel balancing:

  • Camber

Camber is the angle at which the tyres are tilted when viewed from your car’s front. Outward tilting of the tyre is known as positive camber, whereas inward tilting of the tyre is termed as negative camber. Ideally, the angle of your car’s tyres should match the centreline without any positive or negative camber.

  • Toe

The toe is the angle at which the tyres are tilted when viewed from the top of your car. If the tyres appear tilted inwards when viewed from the top, they’re said to be in a toe-in alignment. And if your tyres appear tilted outwards, they’re said to be in a toe-out alignment. In either case, your tyres should be aligned so that it is neither tilted inwards nor outwards.

  • Caster

Caster is the angle at which your steering axis is tilted when viewed from the side of your car. If the caster is tilted towards the driver, it is called a positive caster and if the caster is tilted away from the driver, it is called a negative caster. The caster of a properly aligned wheel should be right at the centreline with no positive or negative angles.

Conclusion

Both wheel alignment and balancing go hand-in-hand and should ideally be performed at the same time. Most manufacturers recommend wheel balancing and alignment to be done every 10,000 kilometres or so. However, if you feel that your car exhibits any of the above symptoms at any point in time, it is advisable to get your wheels aligned and balanced right away.

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FAQs on Car Wheel Alignment

  • ✔️Why is Wheel Alignment Important?

     Wheel alignment ensures that the car drives stable and straight at all times. It also prevents uneven tyre wear and keeps the components of your car’s suspension system in perfect working order.  

  • ✔️What is Wheel Balancing?

     Wheel balancing is the act of correcting any weight imbalances that your wheel or tyre may have.  

  • ✔️What are The Three Things That are Taken into Consideration During Wheel Alignment?

     During wheel alignment, the mechanic will take the camber, toe, and caster angles into consideration and check for any discrepancies.  

  • ✔️ Should the tyres of a car be changed before or after wheel alignment?

     No. It is not necessary to change your car’s tyres either before or after alignment unless the tyres are worn out completely or unevenly. 

  • ✔️What to Do If My Car Automatically Veers to One Side?

    This can indicate a problem with the wheel alignment. It is advisable to take it to a competent mechanic immediately to rectify the misaligned wheels.

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