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Do I Need a Wheel Alignment?

How do you really know if you need a wheel alignment? Did you just buy new tires? You should make those tires last longer by getting a proper wheel alignment. 

If you observe uneven wear on your tires, or if your vehicle is drifting or pulling to one side of the road on its own, there may be an issue with your car’s alignment. There may even be other signs, including a noise, shaking or vibrating of the steering wheel, or even the steering wheel is crooked due to hitting a pothole or the curb. 

All of these factors could potentially be signs that your car is in need of a wheel alignment, and depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, a two or four-wheel alignment could be enough to get you fixed up and running again. However, the key is getting your alignment checked. 

Every satisfactory vehicle alignment should begin with a full inspection of every steering and suspension component to be certain there is no damage or worn parts that are causing the issue. You may just need to have your tires replaced. Just like a physician will check your overall health before performing surgery, your mechanic needs to know that your vehicle’s steering system will hold any adjustments securely before starting with the alignment. 

Components such as tie rod ends, ball joints, idler and pitman arms, struts, stabilizer bars, and bushings all must be in good condition. If they are not, all the hard work in aligning your car could be for nothing when you hit the first bump on the road. These are all things that Auto Repair Shop San Diego checks for, to ensure that you are well-informed about the condition of your car. 

A four-wheel alignment consists of balancing the suspension of your car so that all wheels are parallel to the other and perpendicular to the ground. Three primary angles support proper wheel alignment: camber, caster, and toe. Camber is the measure of the degree of perpendicular offset from the surface of the road. Caster is the angle of your wheel’s pivot points, which are attached to the suspension. Toe refers to the angle of the directional difference between the tire and the centerline of the vehicle. The front and rear wheels of your car must always be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to the tires beside it. Routine wheel alignments can offer the ability to save you money down the road, while also promoting optimal car performance. 

Three Primary Wheel Alignment Adjustments Performed on most Vehicles

Let’s take a closer look at the three aforementioned adjustments, the toe, camber, and caster:

 

  • Toe. This is how yoru tires are pointing forward on the road. Look down at your own feet standing up straight and see how your toes are either pointing straight, out to the side, or inward. This is similar to the front of rear tires when our mechanics set the alignment to the factory specifications. An incorrect toe can lead to choppy, uneven wear to the tread of your tires and can even result in the car pulling or drifting to one side. 
  • Camber. This is how the top of your tires lean, mainly outward or inward. This can impact your tire wear by causing the inside or outside of your treads to become worn and even expose the steel cords below the tire’s rubber surface. 

 

 

  • Caster. Consider the front wheel of your bike or shopping cart. Caster is the measurement of how the weight of yoru car is in relation to the front wheels, which primarily impacts the handling or steering-capability of yoru vehicle rather than tire wear. Like a motorcycle has a long fork for the front wheel and is more difficult to steer, or a shopping cart has front casters that turn very quickly and become unstable at high speeds, this is how caster can impact your car’s ability to drive. It can cause your vehicle to pull to one side if it isn’t in adjustment, and even making your car feel unstable at high speeds. 

 

Not all vehicles are capable of having all these adjustments, whether it is a front-wheel or a four-wheel alignment. However, all cars must be measured to ensure that there is no structural damage from a previous crash or even a minor impact due to a roadway hazard. 

How Can You Make Sure That Your Vehicle Is Being Aligned Properly?

Do I Need a Wheel Alignment?The first thing you should determine is that the repair shop handling your vehicle has ASE Certified Master Mechanics. This will provide you with the peace of mind that they have received the necessary training and testing to show their competence in all areas of vehicle repair. ASE Certifications are voluntary, so usually, the more skilled mechanics will take the time to complete the process. Look for these certifications hanging on the wall of the repair shop. 

Another thing you be certain of is that the auto repair shop you are visiting uses digital wheel alignment equipment. Some of the older technology — using strings and lasters to level out the sensors — is outdated and unable to provide accurate measurements that are necessary for modern vehicles. 

One other thing to be on the lookout for when getting a professional wheel alignment is a full-color printout of your before and after results. You need this information to get a full explanation of everything that is wrong with your car and how the adjustments are able to correct the issue. 

San Diego Auto Repair Shops

Automobile Repair Shop San Diego is a family-owned and operated business that has been providing the best repair experience. We will offer you a hassle-free auto repair starting with a precise damage assessment or estimate. We will tow your vehicle for FREE to our shop, organize for a rental car, and work directly with the insurance company to streamline the repair process. We will even pay up to $500 of your deductible. Contact us today at to see how we can help.

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