Getting All the Angles on Wheel Alignment

Why your Tires Need Some Angle To Keep You Going Straight

There are times when you’re on the road, and your car just doesn’t feel right. Maybe it’s pulling to one side, or there’s an unusual vibration when hitting certain speeds. If you haven’t had a wheel alignment in a while, there’s a good chance that the angles are off. Here at Century Automotive & Transmission, we feel it’s important to understand what goes into an alignment and what you may see if you need one.

Straight and True

Essentially, an alignment procedure ensures that your tires are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. These are fixed by adjusting a series of “angles” that control how each tire sits in relation to the car body and the road.

  • Camber: The angle of each tire from left to right while looking at the front of the car is called the camber. If it’s maladjusted, you’ll feel a pulling to one side and see more wear on one side of the treads than on the other.
  • Caster: Turning the steering wheel makes the front tires turn on a pivot. The angle of that pivot is called the caster, and when looked at from the side can be positive (angled towards the front) or negative (angled towards the back). If these measurements are off, you’ll experience either pulling or loose steering.
  • Toe: It should go without saying that your tires should face forward. Looking at your car from overhead, the toe angle of wheel alignment determines if they face inwards or outwards from the hood. Both instances will result in reduced tire life as the treads wear down at an accelerated pace.

The easiest way to tell if you need an alignment is to look at the wear patterns on your treads. They should be uniform across all four tires without odd angles or flat patches. If you find your car isn’t driving the way it’s supposed to, and you know there’s nothing mechanically wrong, it’s a good idea to bring it to a qualified garage for a wheel alignment. Making sure your tires are all angled in the proper direction will keep you that much safer when the rubber hits the road!

Written by Century Automotive and Transmission

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