Vehicle Warranty Blog

facebook   google   twitter

1-269-685-3557

4 Wheel AlignmentCars need to have proper wheel alignment. If even one of the tires is pointed slightly off-center, it can cause poor handling, increased tire wear, and reduced efficiency. Drivers need to trust that when they point the steering wheel straight, the car will go straight. It also shouldn’t take effort to do so.

Now, it’s easy to assume that alignments adjust the front wheels only. However, alignment is far more complicated than many people imagine. In truth, all four wheels need periodic alignment.

Why Align the Rear Wheels, Too?

Unless your car has a solid rear axle, your rear wheels will need alignment eventually. This could be due to adjustable toe rods needing periodic resetting or non-adjustable parts becoming worn or damaged. Regardless, the rear wheels on a vehicle with fully independent suspension will start to point in different directions over time.

It’s possible, then, for your vehicle to still pull to one side even after you’ve had the alignment done on your front wheels. In that case, there’s a good chance the rear wheels need an alignment also.

Other Factors for Optimal 4-Wheel Alignment

Getting all four wheels pointed straight is only part of the battle. Other adjustments are required to achieve the best handling and ride. First, let’s go over the type of alignment most people think of when they hear the term.

Toe

When looking at your tires from a bird’s-eye view, they can be parallel with each other, which is the goal of alignment. Alternatively, they can splay inward or outward. If they point inward, this is called “toe in,” and if they point outward, this is “toe out.”

There are other adjustment points in a four-wheel alignment as well:

Camber

The vertical angle of your wheels is called “camber.” Negative camber is achieved when the wheel is angled inward at the top, while positive camber refers to a wheel that is angled outward at the top. If the camber isn’t set according to factory specifications, it can wear out ball joints, wheel bearings, and tires.

Caster

Caster is something you can only notice when you turn the steering wheel. It’s the vertical axis around which your wheels and tires pivot. A caster can be negative, where the axis of rotation is aimed forward away from the driver, or positive, where it is aimed toward the driver. This is generally only adjustable on the front wheels, but vehicles with four-wheel steering need to consider the caster of the rear wheels, too.

How to Know Your Vehicle Needs Alignment

Some of the following signs are obvious and can be felt through the steering wheel, but others require more observation:

  1. The vehicle pulls to one side
  2. The steering wheel won’t point straight when the car is going straight
  3. The steering wheel has significant vibration
  4. The vehicle’s tires are wearing unevenly

If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to take your car to a shop and get the wheels aligned.

Don’t Wait — Get an Alignment Before It’s a Problem

Don’t ignore problems. If you do, your handling and efficiency will suffer, and your suspension and tires will experience premature wear. Take your vehicle to a competent, certified tech and get it back on the straight and narrow.

Summary: Unless you have a solid rear axle, your vehicle will need periodic four-wheel alignments. Here’s how you can tell your wheels need some adjustment.

 

Share With Your Friends