Wheel alignment is the process of squaring up the angles of your vehicle’s wheels so they are perpendicular to the ground and tracking in a line parallel to one another.  This is an extremely important component of your car. The wheel alignment process may appear to be simple, but this is a job that is best left for the professionals. Older cars get out of alignment when suspension components and springs begin to sag. This is often because the vehicle’s wheel alignment has become crooked from hitting potholes, misplaced curbs, and objects in the road. The look of the tires is the first indication that there is a problem. Uneven wear patterns almost always mean that the tires are not running true to the road. There are four measurements that need to be within specifications for the vehicle to be properly aligned.

Wheel Alignment Measurements

Thrust Angle

The first angle is the thrust angle. The thrust angle is the measurement of the wheels from the centerline to the rear axle, drawn with a perpendicular line. All four wheels should be equidistance from the vehicle’s centerline. An incorrect thrust angle indicates the car is not tracking straight ahead, and the tires are not rolling in line with one another.

Toe Angle

The second angle that needs to be in alignment for your vehicle to operate to its fullest potential is the toe angle. Toe refers to the tire’s angle of deviation from the centerline as viewed from above the vehicle. If the car is running true, the tire’s tread is pointed directly to the front of the vehicle.  An incorrect toe setting will cause feathered wear across the tire tread.

Camber Angle

Camber is the tilt of the wheel perpendicular to the ground. Positive camber indicates the top of the tire tilts to the outside of the car. For the camber to be negative, the top of the tire would tilt towards the center of the car. The tire will wear unevenly if the camber is out of alignment.

Caster Angle

Caster refers to the angle of deviance between the upper and lower pivot points when the car is steering straight ahead as viewed from the side of the car. The front suspension system components include an upper and lower pivot point. These are commonly known as lower and upper ball joints, or strut tower mounts depending on the type of suspension. Negative caster, or pivot points that are tilted to the front of the car, makes the car harder to steer and impacts straight line tracking. A poor suspension system and wheel alignment can wreak havoc on your tires, ultimately costing you thousands of miles of drivability, and maybe more in repair costs. At Auto Specialty of Lafayette, we know proper car maintenance can prevent suspension and wheel alignment issues from becoming expensive repairs. Extend the life of your tires by investing extra time and effort into your vehicle. Contact us at 765-477-7300 or stop by our Lafayette location for an alignment inspection.
Comments are closed.