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Wheel Alignment: Your Questions Answered

Tyres - 26 September 2019

There is more to proper wheel alignment than adjusting the angles of your car’s tyres, it also refers to the adjustment of a car’s suspension.

Driving on misaligned wheels is a safety hazard as it can cause your car to drift out of traffic lanes and cause a collision. It also leads to increased friction between your tyres and the road, resulting in the tyre treads rapidly thinning, causing poor road performance and even rapid loss of inflation pressure.

What is Wheel Alignment?

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) provide wheel alignment specifications when selling their vehicles. You can maximise your vehicle’s steering response and maintain its driving direction by checking your vehicle’s wheels regularly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If they have become misaligned you should re-align the suspension as well as the wheels by correcting the wheel alignment angles, namely:

  • Camber angle is the inward or outward angle of the tyre when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Too much inward or outward tilt, also known as negative and positive camber, indicates improper alignment and will need to be adjusted.
  • Toe angle Is the left or right tyre assembly slant and is the extent to which your tyres turn inward or outward when viewed from above. If you find that confusing, just stand up and look down at your feet. Angle them inward toward the centre of your body. When the tyres on your car are angled the same way , we call this toe-in alignment. Angle your feet outward and you have toe-out alignment. Both require adjustment.
  • Castor angle is the vertical axis of a vehicle’s steered wheels which helps balance steering and provides stability when cornering.  Specifically, it’s the angle of your steering axis when viewed from the side of your vehicle. If you have positive caster, the steering axis will tilt toward the driver. Negative caster, on the other hand, means the steering axis tilts toward the front of your vehicle.

How to check for misaligned wheels and the damage caused to tyres
Tyre Wear Caused by Misaligned Wheels

Causes of Wheel Misalignment

Wheel alignment problems can occur gradually as a result of poorly maintained roads and vehicle wear, or suddenly from impact.

The most common causes of slow wheel misalignment are:

  • Suspension component wear
  • Massive torque and friction from driving placing pressure on shocks, springs and tyres

More drastic causes of wheel misalignment include:

  • Hitting potholes at speed
  • Crashing into large road obstacles
  • Parking against pavements forcibly

What are the Symptoms of Poor Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment problems can become apparent while driving or when your vehicle is stationary. Here are ways to identify poor wheel alignment:

When Driving

  • Steering wheel jerking or vibrating and not returning to its normal position after turning a corner
  • Uneven tyre tread wear
  • Tyres squealing while turning
  • Excessive shoulder rib wear on the inner or outer shoulder of a tyre (indicating camber setting problems)

While Stationary

Park your car with the wheels pointing forward and stand a few metres in front of it. Look at both sides of your car and inspect whether your wheels are standing straight up or are slanting inwards or outwards.

Why Pay Attention to these Symptoms?

Poorly aligned tyres wear aggressively, which shortens their achievable kilometres and results in flat tyres, rapid loss of inflation pressure, and nasty accidents.

As wheel misalignment symptoms usually appear gradually, you may not notice the problem initially. However, by paying careful attention to symptoms you can easily save yourself time and money and keep yourself safe behind the wheel.

How can Supa Quick help me?

Visit a Supa Quick dealeraround every 5,000km to check all your tyres, including the spare. Poor shock absorbers can also cause faster tyre deterioration from force impacting your wheels, so while you’re there have your struts and shocks checked at the same time.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.

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