I was told that my wheel alignment needs to be fixed. I'm not very mechanically minded so could you explain what is wrong with my car?
Patricia, Texas USA
Your car's wheel alignment is very important if you want to get maximum life out of your tires. The simplest description is your wheel alignment means the direction the wheels point on your car. If alignment is out by just a small amount your tires will wear out faster- Perhaps increasing wear on other parts, too.
Signs to look for include vibration through the steering wheel, if the vehicle wanders on the road, or if it pulls to one side at highway speeds. Another indicator would unusual wearing of the tire edges.
If you continue to drive your vehicle when the wheels are misaligned the tires will wear unevenly. The alignment problem will most likely get worse over time. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary and expensive replacement of your tires it's important to have the misalignment corrected as soon as possible. Read our article on alignment.
Thanks for the question,
My tire dealer said my camber was wrong and needed to be adjusted. What is the camber?
Your technician will check several measurements during the wheel alignment process. The things that need to be looked at are the camber, castor and toe settings. Camber is the angle of the wheels, the inward or outward tilt that keeps the tire flat on the ground during a turn.
If the camber setting for your vehicle isn't correct it will cause poor handling and wear out your tires prematurely. Too much positive camber and the tires wear on the outside. Too much negative and they will wear on the inside. If the camber settings are not the same for both wheels your vehicle will pull to one side. Read our article on Alignment.
I hope this helps,
A friend of mine told me I could save money by not having a wheel alignment done when I have new tires fitted. Is this true?
Angelynn, Cagayan de Oro Phils
Every vehicle has factory specifications for alignment which should be followed precisely. Improper alignment not only causes poor handling and premature tread wear, it can also reduce fuel efficiency.
I think that whatever you save by not having a wheel alignment may cost you more when you have to replace your tires more than usual. The extra wear and tear on your vehicle may also lead to extra repairs in the long term.
Remember that your safety, as well as the other road users out there, is very important. A wheel alignment is a very small price to pay for fuel efficiency, maximum tire life and safety. Read our article on Alignment.
Thanks for the great question,
My wheel alignment has to be done quite often. What are the causes of misalignment?
Sarah, Newcastle Australia
The cause of misalignment could be many things, aggressive cornering, hard braking or simply bumping a curb.
Start to look at your usual path and try to narrow down any possible causes that may recur often. Perhaps you cross a railroad crossing each day on your way to work, or your street is very rough. See if you can somehow avoid these.
If you have an accident this could also cause misalignment. Another possibility is a mechanical fault- so consult a technician and make sure repairs aren't needed. Read our article on Alignment .
Good luck with it,
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