3 Wheel Alignment Basics For New Car Owners

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Owning your first car may be an exciting experience, but being a car owner comes with specific responsibilities. You have to learn the basics of automobile maintenance and repair works. Changing tyres and ensuring that they’re balanced and aligned is one of them.

Maybe you’ve experienced an instance wherein your car handling seems off, or your steering wheel seems to have a mind of its own. If that’s the case, you might need to have a wheel alignment done. While sending your vehicle to a mechanic for better assessment and procedure can be your best option, familiarizing yourself with how your wheel works, its alignment. for instance, can surely be of help.

That said, here are a few things you should know about wheel alignment, as a new car owner.

  • The Importance Of Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment refers to the adjustments, specifically in the angles of your tyres to ensure your car’s optimal performance and stability on the road. Having the wheels aligned based on the car manufacturer’s recommendations also ensures proper steering performance.    

Just by being on the road regularly, you can expose your car to several elements that may impact your vehicle’s wheel alignment. For instance, the joints and bushings may loosen, leaving your tyres slightly out of place. When this happens, you can expect your tyres to wear out quickly and you may experience slight issues in your car’s handling and stability. Additionally, in some cases, misaligned tyres may reduce fuel efficiency.   

By adjusting the wheels of your vehicle to their ideal positions and angles, you’ll be able to enjoy a smoother driving experience. With that being said, always include wheel alignment in your regular maintenance checklist. And if you need a new set, you can visit automobile shops such as Tyre Shop Sydney or similar shops near you. 

  • Basic Wheel Alignment Parameters

Now that you’ve learned the importance of wheel alignment to your car’s performance and your safety, it’s time to get yourself familiar with the basic wheel alignment properties.

3 wheel alignment basics for new car owners
Grid sensor sets mechanic on auto. Car on stand with sensors wheels for alignment camber check in workshop of Service station
  • Caster Angle

This describes the negative or positive tilt of the steering axis. A negative tilt refers to a forward slant, while a positive tilt is represented by a backward angle. Often, a positive setting will tilt the steering axis toward the driver. A negative caster will lean the steering axis’ angle toward your vehicle’s front side.

An ideal caster is almost always positive, and it’s responsible for the vehicle’s self-centering feature. Apart from this function, a proper caster angle can also provide stability when turning to a corner.    

  • Camber Angle  

This refers to the tilt direction of your tyres- either outward or inward, especially when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Like the caster, this tyre alignment property has negative and positive values.

A negative setting occurs when the bottom part of the wheels tilt away from the vehicle. Conversely, a positive camber makes the bottom of your tyres appear inward, while the top part is angled away from the vehicle. Ensuring the accurate camber angle provides maximum road contact, helping stabilize the car.   

  • Toe Angle 

A toe angle pertains to the side-to-side alignment of the front wheels when viewed from the top of your vehicle. When the front edges of the tyre are closer together than the rear, it’s called toe-in. When this happens, you’ll notice good stability while traveling straight, but may experience issues when cornering. On the other hand, a toe-out angle results in better performance when changing directions but for a reduced response when traversing a straight path. Besides these driving issues, improper toe levels may cause faster tyre wear.    

3 wheel alignment basics for new car owners
Car service worker polishing car wheels with microfiber cloth. Tools for polishing
  • Discover Which Elements Impact Wheel Alignment 

There are many ways you’re unconsciously damaging your car and affecting your wheel’s alignment. These include an owner’s driving style, specific road conditions, and the vehicle’s everyday wear and tear. Passing by unpaved and pothole-filled roads, refusing to slow down on a speed bump, or going too fast on a curb can mess up your wheels.

If you drive a vehicle that’s been on the road for a long time, expect the suspension system to loosen up and impact your tyres. The same holds for any modifications that require altering your suspension system, such as installing hydraulics for a car lift. Also, frequent speeding, carrying heavy loads, and car mishaps can impact suspension parts.

Final Thoughts 

Getting your vehicle in top condition includes proper wheel alignment. Preventive maintenance, which includes proper tyre care, is essential. Forgoing regular tyre checks and corrective procedures reduces your vehicle’s drivability, comfort, and safety.

Driving a wonky car exposes you to risks, as you’ll have less control over the machine. Worse, it may even lead to significant problems down the road, including preventable road accidents. 

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