Steering Problems? Get Your Wheel Alignment Checked
If your car is pulling to one side or you have to hold the steering off centre to keep going straight, you probably have a wheel alignment issue. Get it checked and fixed because it means that your wheels are not making the right contact with the road or you have imbalanced steering. Even if you’re car is seemingly running straight you could still have a wheel alignment issue if you notice uneven tyre wear or deteriation. It’s a good idea to make a brief check of your tyres once in a while, it could save you the stress of a blow out and tyre changing by the roadside.
Wheel Alignment Basics
For your car to be stable, efficient and comfortable, all four wheels must be at the correct angles with respect to the vehicle and the road. Ideally, when the steering wheel is at the centre position and the car is parked on a level surface, your tyres should be at right angles to the road surface and parallel to your car. The steering axis (the axis through which your wheel turns left or right) should be vertical.
When one or more wheels are not angled properly, you have a wheel alignment problem. It can be in one or more dimensions mentioned above.
A wheel alignment issue is not a wheel or tyre problem. It’s a problem with the vehicle’s suspension. Wheel alignment is gradually lost as parts of the suspension wear out. Frequent driving over bumpy roads, hitting the curb or going fast over large potholes will accelerate the process. The other consequence of misaligned wheels is uneven tyre wear. The type of wear depends on the nature of misalignment.
Camber is the angle at which the wheels stand when on a level surface. When you view the wheel from the front of the vehicle, your tyres should be at right angles to the road. If they are slanting inwards or outwards, you have a camber misalignment.
If the top of the tyre is slanting towards the vehicle it is negative camber and if it’s the other way round, it is positive camber. Worn suspension parts like ball joints and bearings can cause this problem. Camber misalignment causes camber wear in the affected tyre. The centre of the tread wears less than its inside or outside surface.
When the steering wheel is at the centre position, all wheels should be straight. When viewed from the top, the wheels should be parallel to the vehicle. If the wheel is turned inwards (towards the vehicle), it’s called ‘Toe in’ and if it is turned outwards, it’s ‘Toe out’. Toe misalignment causes one side of the tread to wear out faster than the other. This is called feathering.
The angle of the steering axis is important to keep the steering balanced and the car stable while cornering. When you look at a wheel from the side of the car, the steering axis should be vertical. If it is angled towards the front of the car, it is negative caster and the other way, its positive caster. A caster misalignment makes the vehicle hard to steer and corner. It can also cause vibration in the steering wheel.
Get Your Wheel Alignment Checked And Rectified
If your car is difficult to steer or you see abnormal or uneven tyre wear, get your wheel alignment checked and rectified. Getting your wheels aligned and balanced improves control, comfort, stability, safety, fuel efficiency and tyre life.
If you are in or around Manchester, contact one of our garages in Oldham or Bury for an appointment or use the simple booking form below. We have the industry standard equipment and qualified staff to check vehicle geometry and make corrections. You will get a before and after sheet showing you what corrections are necessary or were performed. You will get dealer-equivalent service at a fraction of the cost. We also offer convenient vehicle pick up and drop off options.
Learn more about our wheel alignment service.