A survey of popular 1980’s music is sure to uncover the 1986 Huey Lewis and the News recording of “It’s Hip to be Square.” While Lewis intended it to be ironic, it became an anthem for people who felt they didn’t fit in socially. Regardless of what the song meant for people, one might easily apply it to wheel alignment.
When it comes to your vehicle, it’s not only hip to be square, but it’s also necessary. So how do automotive technicians make that happen? Experts such as the ASE certified mechanics at Century Automotive & Transmission in Richmond, Texas, use an alignment machine to adjust your car’s suspension system angles so that the wheels are squared in relation to one another.
When you need a wheel alignment, a technician assesses what kind of alignment you need based on your vehicle type. Many vehicles need only front-end alignment (although in some cases the rear wheels also need to be adjusted in relation to the car’s center by completing a thrust-angle alignment). Front-wheel drive cars with an adjustable rear suspension and all-wheel drive vehicles, on the other hand, need to have all four wheels aligned.
Regardless of the specific alignment, the goal is to square the wheels and axles so that all the moving parts are similarly oriented. This requires your mechanic to adjust the major suspension angles–camber, caster, toe, and thrust. Caster, which impacts steering, is the slope of the line that might be drawn through the upper and lower ball joints. The amount of right or left tilt is called camber. Toe is the difference in distance between the back and front of the front tires. Depending upon the skew, you may hear this referenced as toe in or toe out. Thrust is the relationship between the rear axle and front wheels. Once all the suspension angles are squared, your steering wheel will be centered, your steering will be straight (not pulling to one side or the other), and your wheels will move properly in relation to one another.
Modern alignment machinery harnesses the power of technology to ensure the accuracy of angle adjustment. Cameras–usually four, one for each wheel–are attached with specialized clamping devices to the car while it is raised into the air. The cameras (also called “heads”) relay precise measurements back to a computer which calibrates the necessary adjustments, bringing your car’s suspension system back to its desirable state of squareness. Century Automotive & Transmission in Richmond, Texas, has the proper equipment to ensure that your next wheel alignment is precise, giving you a ride so square that you’ll feel like singing, too. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our wheel alignment experts!