It is normally pretty obvious when your car needs a wheel alignment. Many of the signs to look out for include uneven tire wear on your vehicle, the way it keeps pulling from one side to another, and when your driving wheel feels crooked. When these signs start to appear, your car needs its wheel realigned. You definitely shouldn’t ignore this as it can cause significant long-term damage to your model.
For example, continuing to drive will only make the condition of your tires and the steering and handling of your vehicle worse. It is recommended that you take it to your nearest garage and ensure that a mechanic aligns it immediately. However, for those who are unfamiliar with how cars work, spotting these signs may not be easy.
Let us take a look at the symptoms of bad alignment.
Here Are The Symptoms Of Bad Wheel Alignment And What To Do
First of all, it is important to identify what the common cause of coming out of alignment is, and most of the time it is potholes, those annoying gaps in the road that make you question as to why you pay so much tax when highway services cannot even fix them properly or quickly. If you hit a particularly large one, it is understandable why you may worry about any potential damage to your vehicle. Alignment issues can also occur if your car hits a curb or other obstruction on the road, and sometimes that cannot be avoided, but it is still a pain when your car does this.
The best thing to do if you notice that your vehicle feels dodgy on the road is to talk to your local mechanic about performing an alignment. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an alignment is a procedure performed by your garage to get your vehicle’s suspension back into proper form. By making adjustments to your car’s tires and axles, the wheels are once again aligned with each other and can make excellent contact on the road.
Mechanics make the process look easy most of the time, so here is what they do to realign your wheels. They will likely raise your vehicle up on a hoist and use an alignment machine that consists of devices that clamp to the wheels. The machine is linked up to a computer, and your mechanic will make precise adjustments to a range of measurements to get everything perfectly aligned. The technician will also take this opportunity to ensure that no suspension components are excessively worn or broken.
And here is where it gets more interesting. There are three different types of adjustment available – front-end, thrust, and four-wheel. The type of suspension that your car has determines what kind of alignment your vehicle will receive. But do not fret, as a mechanic will be able to recommend the best type of alignment for your model. So here are the different types of alignment:
- A front-end alignment makes adjustments to the front axle. This is the simplest type of alignment, but it is not recommended for modern vehicles. Anyone who owns a classic car out there may need this type of alignment.
- A thrust alignment joins a front-end alignment with a thrust alignment to ensure all four wheels are squared with one another. For those who own a car with a solid rear axle, this type of alignment is necessary.
- Four-wheel alignment: This alignment joins aspects of the front-end and thrust-angle alignments and also positions the rear axle angles. As you can tell by the name, a four-wheel alignment is obviously for four-wheel and all-wheel-drive models and front-wheel drive vehicles with adjustable/independent rear suspensions.
The technician adjusts the various suspension angles, known as toe, thrust, camber and caster. They determine your car’s tire movement and position, and most importantly, the mechanic will also ensure that the steering wheel is centered.
Once the alignment is complete, it is best to request a printout, which many technicians now provide, that show before and after images of the suspension alignment.
How To Do A Wheel Alignment Yourself
Of course, it is best for a mechanic to realign your car, but during these tough financial times, you may be tempted to do it yourself. So here are the recommended steps to do so just in case:
- Raise both front wheels on jack stands.
- Turn the car’s electrical system on so that the wheel will move.
- If your front tires are pointing in toward the center of the car, it means that the outer tire rod must be tightened. If they are pointing outward, the tire rod has to be loosened.
- Loosen the nut that connects the outer and inner tire rods.
- The outer tire rod must be turned counterclockwise if the wheel has to be turned more inward or clockwise if it has to be turned more outward.
- Turn the wheel straight and check if it is tilting the wrong way. If that wheel is straight, repeat the procedure with the other wheel.
Good luck with getting your car realigned, and, hopefully this guide helps.
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