Wheel alignment is part of standard automobile maintenance that consists of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are set to the car maker's specification. The purpose of these adjustments is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without "pulling" to one side).
All new vehicles leave the factory with their alignment checked and adjusted. Usually the technician paints the heads of the adjustment hardware to show it has been set, also to show if it has moved later on. It is advisable to do the alignment of the car after the first 5000 km, since all the suspension will be broken in. Failure to do this may result in the camber and toe specifications drifting outside the manufacturer's limit. This may lead to vehicle pulling and tire wear.
Initially you might not even notice these defects, but after a few weeks or hundreds of miles, a bad alignment will cause uneven tire wear and a pull/drifting to the left or right. Tire wear leads to frequent replacement of tires thus adding to running cost for the consumer, while vehicle pulling causes irritation and/or fatigue while driving the car.
Under normal driving conditions many vehicles can go 30,000 miles or more before they need a new set of tires, which is a good interval to have the alignment checked as well. Any severe driving incidents, or changed suspension components would also warrant a check.
The typical alignment on an economy sedan takes about an hour under ideal circumstances. A utility or performance vehicle may require additional labor. When fasteners and hardware are rusted/seized, extra time may be required and/or parts may need to be replaced. Come on in to Jim Riehl today and we can let you know how long it would take for your car!
In the same fashion that you will wear out your shoes if you walk only on the inside or outside edge, so your tires may become worn if not within allowed specifications. Many performance vehicles sacrifice tire life for driving performance.
As the tire will bounce, it is the first spring that your car rides on, affecting and potentially shortening the life of all other components. Braking distance, ride quality, and even fuel economy are all affected by the correct inflation and rotation of tires. A major improvement in fuel savings would result if everyone correctly inflated their tires.
If your vehicle squeals while turning corners on dry pavement, it is probably time to have your alignment checked. (or slow down!)
Changing rims and tires will normally not affect the alignment but will affect secondary angles. Come by Jim Riehl today and we can check to make sure your tires are still aligned properly.