It is quite important to have your vehicle's wheels aligned. It's a service that should be performed somewhat regularly and it can greatly improve the handling performance of your car. It also extends the lifespan of your brakes, wheels, suspension and tires. If you haven't gone through a proper wheel alignment in awhile, it's worth getting checked out.
How to Know When Wheels Aren't Aligned
If your car is pulling one way or the other when driving straight, that is an obvious sign. You can also tell if your steering wheel is off-center when you are on a straightaway. Unusual vibrations and uneven tire wear are other common indicators of poor wheel alignment. Always rotate your tires every 5,000-6,000 miles and get your alignment checked with each service visit.
How Wheel Alignment Works
Really, it's quite simple. All four wheels and tires should be running level and moving in the same direction if the car is driving straight. Weight is distributed evenly across the wheels and performance is improved, including better gas mileage in most cases. Here are some common terms associated with wheel alignment:
We've all goofed around and walked with our feet splayed out to the side (pigeon-toed) or pointing inward. It is not as efficient as when your feet are lined up in the same direction. "Toe" in wheel alignment refers to wheels pointing outward or inward as if you looking at your car from directly above or below.
"Camber" is the angle of your tires if you are looking at them from head-on. In other words, the tops of the tires lean noticeably outward or inward, and too much camber is certainly a problem. It could be a result of worn suspension components, ball joints or bearings.
Last but not least, there is "caster." It is harder to spot with the naked eye, but it relates to the steering axis of your wheels and tires, and it will affect cornering, steering and the overall stability of your car. A trained professional will be able to determine if you have too much negative or positive caster, and whether or not it needs to be adjusted.
When to Get Wheel Alignment Performed
Like tire rotation, you should get your wheel alignment checked every 5,000-6,000 miles. These are typically just alignment tests. Odds are you won't have to get your wheels realigned nearly that often. It's just good practice to have it checked. If there is a significant problem, then you will want it fixed as soon as possible.
For all your wheel alignment needs, contact San Francisco Automotive Solutions (formerly All American Automotive. We can test your wheel alignment and perform wheel alignment repairs and adjustments that will get your car back on the road and performing at its best. Call us today at (415) 523-0515 or schedule an appointment online.