Wheel alignment is the position of the wheels relative to your car. When properly aligned, the wheels point in the right direction. Without proper alignment, the wheels resist your steering commands, as well as each other. Alignment also affects gas mileage and tire wear. If your tires are pointed in different directions, they fight against each other and can cause tread wear.
Computerized alignment equipment is used to measure all alignment angles on today’s cars. These include both adjustable and non-adjustable angles. (Non-adjustable angles require repair or replacement of the suspension component.) The most common adjustable angles are:
This refers to the tilted direction of the wheels toward or away from one another when viewed from the top. Toe is the most critical tire wearing angle. Tires that “toe-in” point toward one another. Tires that “toe-out” point away from each other.
This refers to the tilt of the wheels toward or away from one another when viewed from the front. Wheels that tilt in toward the vehicle have “negative camber.” Wheels that tilt away from the vehicle have “positive camber.”
This refers to the angle of the steering axis in relation to an imaginary vertical line through the center of the wheel when viewed from the side. “Positive caster” is the term used when the vertical line is tilted back toward the rear. If it’s tilted forward, we call it “negative caster.” The proper caster angle stabilizes your car for better steering.
This refers to the relationship of all four wheels to each other, as well as their relationship to an imaginary center line that runs from bumper to bumper. The term “thrust line” refers to the direction in which the rear wheels are pointed. Thrust angle is correctable on cars with adjustable rear suspensions. If your car has a non-adjustable suspension, thrust angle is compensated for by aligning the front wheels to the rear wheels.
Why is a Wheel Alignment Important?
It is no surprise that your vehicle will drive better if all the wheels are pointed in the same direction. That is called wheel alignment. If your wheels are out of alignment you may notice that your car pulls to one side or the other.
Something that you won’t notice right away, but you will if you keep driving on Highways such as I-55, I-80 or even Rt-59, Rt-52 or Rt-30 when you’re out of alignment, is that your tires are wearing unevenly and fairly quickly.. Thatï¿½s because when the vehicle is pulling to one side, you have to steer it back straight. The outside of the tire just wears out fast because you’re constantly turning, which can be very exhausting on a long road trip from Chicago fighting to keep the vehicle going straight down the road.
Some of the things that commonly throw a wheel out of alignment are slamming into a pothole in Joliet, smacking a curb in Shorewood or something like a rock off Black Road. And it doesn’t have to be a big shock, it can just be the regular bumps and bangs of daily driving that add up and eventually take your vehicle out of alignment. That is why one of our advisors at Docs Motor Works Auto Repair may suggest having your alignment checked periodically.
With an alignment service at Docs Motor Works, we measure each wheel’s alignment and to see where they are relative to factory specifications. While we have the vehicle on the alignment rack, we inspect the tires for wear as well as the suspension and steering components for damage or wear things that can contribute to alignment problems. With some sedans you can adjust all four wheels so we bring all wheels into alignment. On those vehicles where you can only adjust the front wheels, we bring the front into alignment relative to the rear.
Cost varies by whether or not it is two or four wheel adjustable. Four-wheel drive vehicles may have an additional charge because they’re more difficult to align. At any rate, it is cheaper than having to replace tires every few months.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had your wheels aligned, there are several ways to schedule an appointment for service and/or repair with Docs Motor Works Auto Repair;