The importance of keeping your wheels aligned

Ensuring that your wheels are accurately aligned, improves both the performance and longevity of your tyres. Wheels often become misaligned by hitting potholes, bumps, and pavements, or even driving on uneven surfaces, and of course, through general wear and tear. Therefore, it is essential to maintain accurate alignment of your wheels to ensure their quality and performance remains optimal.

Your tyres are a significant safety feature on your vehicle, as they are the only thing between you and the road, and because of this, you should ensure that they remain in good condition.

 

What is Wheel Alignment?

Alignment refers to an adjustment to a vehicle’s suspension – the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the wheels or tyres themselves. The key to proper alignment is adjusting the angles of the tyres, which affects how they make contact with the road. 

When checking your alignment, a mechanic is mainly concerned with three things:

  1. Camber – This is the inward or outward angle of the tyre when viewed from the front. Too much inward or outward tilt, also known as negative or positive camber, indicates improper alignment and will need to be adjusted. Worn bearings, ball joints and other wheel suspension parts may also contribute to camber misalignment.
  2. Toe – Toe alignment is the extent to which your tyres turn inward or outward when viewed from above. To understand this, look down at your own feet. If your toes angle inward, you have toe-in alignment and vice versa for toe-out alignment.
  3. Caster – Your caster angle helps balance steering, stability and cornering. If you have a positive caster, the steering axis will tilt towards the driver. A negative caster means the steering axis tilts towards the front of the vehicle.

 

Why is wheel alignment important for your vehicle?

Correct wheel alignment and balancing, helps your vehicle’s tyres to perform well, last longer, and improves the vehicle’s handling. Since the signs of wheel misalignment appear gradually, paying attention to your vehicle can save time, money and keep you safe behind the wheel.

 

Wheel Balancing – what do you need to know?

You must be able to detect when wheels might be out of balance.

The symptoms of a wheel that is out of balance are:

  • Vibration in the steering wheel at certain highway speeds.
  • Vibration in the seat or floorboard at certain highway speeds.

Wheel balancing and alignment will ensure a smoother ride and more enjoyable driving.

 

How often should alignment be done ?

It is recommended that you do vehicle alignment every 8000 to 10 000km or in the event of sudden impact. Most mechanics recommend that you get a wheel alignment once every two or three years. However, the best thing to do is to follow the recommended interval in your owner’s manual.

It’s important to note that specific circumstances may cause your vehicle to require tyre alignment on a more frequent basis. Vehicles with wider tyres or performance-oriented cars usually need to have their wheels aligned more often. Additionally, it would help if you considered getting a wheel alignment every time you install new tyres on your car.

 

Sources:

https://www.supaquick.com/blog/the-importance-of-wheel-balancing-andalignment-for-safe-driving

https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Wheel-Balance-Wheel-Alignment-and-Safe-Driving

https://www.dunloptyres.co.za/faq/How-often-should-wheels-be-aligned

https://www.tomkadleckia.com/tyre-alignment-faqs-and-frequency.html

 

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