At some point all vehicles on the road will need a tire alignment, whether it’s a front-end alignment or a 4-wheel alignment. An alignment is the adjustment of your vehicle’s steering or suspension components – the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the tires or wheels themselves, but adjustments to the inner and outer tie rods, correcting the angles of the tires which then affects how they make contact with the road.
Benefits of Front-End Alignments or 4-Wheel Alignments
- Help your tires perform properly and help them last longer by eliminating uneven tire wear.
- Improve your car handling and keep your vehicle from pulling in one direction or vibrating strangely on the road.
- Steering wheel will be centered where it was when built at the factory.
- Eliminate or reduce steering wheel vibration.
At KC Auto Repair, in the Burke/Springfield, VA area, we work to ensure you get the best alignment available for your vehicle.
How Do You Know if You Need an Alignment?
There are a couple ways to tell if your car needs a tire alignment. If you’ve noticed one or more of these indicators, bring your vehicle in and we will check it out for you:
- Uneven tread wear
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right
- Your steering wheel is off center when driving straight
- Steering wheel vibration
When Our Technicians Check Your Tire Alignment, We Validate 3 Things:
This strain of tread wear means the inside or outside of the tread is significantly more worn than the center of the tread. As its name implies, positive or negative camber causes this type of wear.
This is the inward or outward angle of the tire when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Too much inward or outward tilt, also known as negative and positive camber, respectively, indicates improper alignment and will need to be adjusted. Worn bearings, ball joints, and other wheel-suspension parts may contribute to camber misalignment.
Heel / Toe Wear
This happens when one side of your tread blocks wears down more quickly than the other in a circumferential direction. When you run your hand over the tread, it will look and feel like saw teeth when viewed from the side. Heel/toe wear could be a sign of under inflation and/or lack of rotation.
Distinct from camber alignment, toe alignment is the extent to which your tires turn inward or outward when viewed from above. If that’s confusing, just stand up and look down at your feet. Angle them inward toward the center of your body. When the tires on your car are angled the same way (remember, we’re thinking in terms of birds-eye-view), we call this toe-in alignment. Angle your feet outward and you have toe-out alignment. Both require adjustment.
Caster / Feathering
Tires are “feathered” when the tread is smooth on one side and sharp on another. This is usually a sign of poor toe alignment.
Your caster angle helps balance steering, stability, and cornering. Specifically, it’s the angle of your steering axis when viewed from the side of your vehicle. If you have positive caster, the steering axis will tilt toward the driver. Negative caster, on the other hand, means the steering axis tilts toward the front of your vehicle.
Improper wheel or tire alignment can cause your tires to wear unevenly and prematurely. If you’re experiencing any of these unusual wear patterns, you should have our technician check your alignment. While tire wear prevention is a good reason to keep your wheel alignment in check, the consequences of misalignment can also play out in overall vehicle performance.