Bad roads are your tires’ worst enemies. Driving across potholes or bumps could alter the alignment of your tires. Improperly aligned wheels will shorten the lifespan of the tires and cause a range of other problems to your car.
To align your tires, the suspension of your vehicle needs to be adjusted. The suspension is the system that connects your car to its wheels. Tire alignment does not actually involve the tires themselves. Instead, the car’s suspension system is adjusted to affect the angles of the tires as they make contact with the road.
So how do you know if your car is due for an alignment? Watch for the following signs:
- Uneven tread wear – If you notice that some of your tires have significantly less tread than others, your tires are likely misaligned.
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right – When you release your hold on the steering wheel and feel your car veering to one side or the other, you may have an alignment issue on your hands.
- Your car’s steering wheel is off center when driving straight – This is another good indicator that you need to have your alignment checked.
- Steering wheel vibration – You may feel some tremors in your steering wheel when you are on a bumpy road, but if you feel them on a smooth drive, your tires may not be lined up.
When you bring your car in for an alignment check, the technician will take note of the following:
- Camber – The camber is the angle of the tire, inward or outward, when viewed from the front. There is positive camber when the tire is angled inward from centerline and negative camber when it is pivoted outward.
- Toe – Toe is different from camber in the sense that the tire is viewed from the top instead of from the front. Toe alignment refers to the extent to which your tires are turned inward or outward when viewed from the top. The tires are toe in when they are angled inward and toe out when they are turned outward.
- Caster – Caster is the angle of the steering wheel axis when viewed from the side of your vehicle. There is positive caster when the steering axis is tilted towards the driver and negative caster when it is tilted away.
Tires aren’t cheap—but neither is your vehicle. To take optimal care of your car and its wheels, make sure to get regular alignments.