Four Wheel Alignment

Four Wheel Alignment

Since the car was invented it has been important that all four wheels point in the same direction!

Over time as the car and its components have evolved, so has the way cars steering and suspension set up or geometry is measured.

The modern car is built for comfort, performance and handling. In order to achieve and maintain the best ride possible, the steering and suspension needs to be measured and adjusted within the motor manufacturer’s specifications. This can only be done by measuring all four wheels and having a proper full four wheel alignment measurement.

If only the fronts are set straight, through having a Tracking, two wheel alignment, or Toe & Go, and the rear wheels remain out of alignment (and not adjusted), your car could still suffer tyre wear, pulling and crooked steering wheel.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are numerous and in today’s world should not be ignored.

Reduced Tyre Wear
Improper alignment is a major cause of premature tyre wear. Over the years, a properly aligned car can add thousands of miles to tyre life.

Improved Fuel Consumption
Fuel consumption reduces as the drag on the tyres (rolling resistance) decreases. Four wheel alignment sets the wheels straight/parallel, which along with correct tyre pressures, minimises the rolling resistance.

Saves Money & Environment
By preventing premature tyre wear, early tyre disposal and improving fuel economy/ CO2 emissions, it not only reduces the cost of motoring – putting more money in your pocket, but helps the environment too!

Improved Handling
Many handling problems can be corrected by four wheel alignment, giving you the driver a better and enjoyable driving experience.

Safer Driving
Misalignment will make the car less stable when taking emergency or evasive action. A suspension system inspection is part of an alignment procedure, therefore potentially allows worn parts to be spotted before they cause a a more costly problem.

How do I know if my car wheels are out of alignment?

A good question! it is not always obvious, especially if the misalignment is slight, but there are signs to look out for:

Uneven tyre wear on the fronts or the rears
If you can’t visibly see the wear, run your hands over the tyre and you can soon feel where the rubber has worn excessively, on the inside or outside edges. Warning – Be careful, in extreme cases of excessive wear fine wire may be protruding from the rubber.

The car pulls to the left and right
When driving along a straight flat road and you either need to compensate through the steering to keep the car driving straight the car drifts to the left or right under braking.

A crooked steering wheel
The steering wheel is not straight, even when driving straight.

How often should the alignment be checked?

As a general rule it is wise to have your alignment checked;
Every 12,000 – 15,000 miles or once a year.

However, it is also highly recommended when;
You knowingly hit a kerb or pothole
New tyres are fitted
Steering and suspension components are replaced
The vehicle has been involved in any form of accident or collision

(If the vehicle has been to a repair centre it may have had the alignment checked – just ask for the printout)

FAQs

Isn’t four wheel alignment just for 4×4?s?

No definitely not. All cars have four wheels and it is important all four are measured, in relation to one another to check they are all pointing in the same direction/ thrust line.

Can the car be aligned with worn tyres – or do I need to fit new tyres first?

New or old tyre fitted will make little difference to the alignment readings.

They will however have a big effect on the way the car feels to drive (even after the alignment has been corrected). Where there was a high degree of misalignment and hence tyre wear present it would be recommended to have new tyres fitted at the time of the alignment adjustments are made.

By having an alignment will my problem always be solved?

Usually but not always. Cars have wheel alignment difficulties through being either out of adjustment (correctable) or by having bent components or even the car body/subframe to which they bolt being bent. How many new parts are needed? Does the car need to visit a bodyshop?

Where adjustments are not possible you will be kept informed and can liaise with the Hunter equipped alignment centre as to possible next actions.

Will the alignment shop always have the alignment data for my car?

Generally speaking yes they should, there are enormous amounts of factory issued alignment data available – especially to the Hunter aligner user. On occasions very new vehicles – or some imports, may need the data obtaining specifically for that car. This is very unusual and should not be a problem. Some Hunter sites will have WebSpecs allowing missing data to be found straight away, online.

My alignment centre advised me that my car needed to be loaded with weights – is this right?

Yes, certain makes and models of cars do need weighting to carry out the alignment in accordance to the motor manufacturer’s settings.

I have had some parts changed on my suspension; does my car need an alignment check?

Yes it will. Any change in parts/components of either steering or suspension will mean the car will need a full four wheel alignment.

Important Note: On certain modern cars to gain access to clutch, or other components, the sub frame needs to be lowered. By doing this will also affect the geometry so it is important when this happens to also have a four wheel alignment.

I have had my wheels aligned but the tyres are still wearing

In the most cases, if your tyres were wearing and had a wear pattern ahead of the alignment, they will continue to wear in that wear pattern until replaced with new tyres –even with the alignment correct!

If they were new tyres fitted after the alignment and they are still wearing, may be the wheels have bumped a pothole or kerb since. If the workshop where you had your alignment carried out, did not provide you with a printout of a ‘job well done’ – the wheels may have been adjusted incorrectly? Try a Hunter Alignment Centre that does give you a printout!
If you have a printout, do go back to the Centre and discuss. Be civil as in most cases they will be only too pleased to help find the route of the problem for you.

I have had my four wheel alignment checked, but my car is still suffering from vibration and a slight pull?

This may be the case. There is another issue that affects cars called Road Force Variation (RFV) where a hard spot in the make up of the tyre can give a vibration. Also the flexibility in the tyre or Conicity can contribute to a pull on the car called Lateral Force.

Get In Touch

JW Garage Services
221 Keady Road
Armagh
Co. Armagh BT60 3EW
Tel: (028) 37531551
After Hours: (028) 37531447
Email: info@jwgarageservices.com

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