Few people enjoy paying for car repairs, but unfortunately, they are often necessary. One of the most common and inexpensive repairs is front-end alignment. This article will explain what front-end alignment is, why it’s essential, and how to tell if your car needs it.
By understanding these things, you can be better prepared to take care of your car and avoid costly repairs in the future. Read on.
What Is a Front-End Alignment?
Car alignment is a critical part of routine vehicle maintenance. It involves adjusting your steering or suspension components to the proper angles. Its primary purpose is to ensure safe driving.
Proper front-end alignment minimizes steering column wear and promotes proper vehicle handling, making driving easier and more comfortable. It helps prevent uneven and premature tire wear and improves fuel economy. Without proper front-end alignment, a car becomes much more challenging to steer, increasing the risk of accidents.
Some of the causes of poor alignment include:
- Hitting potholes and curbs
- Driving on poorly maintained roads
- Certain driving habits
Below are some of the common types of tire wear that result from poor alignment:
- Feathering: Poor toe alignment may cause the tread to be smooth on one side and sharp on the other. The problem is known as feathering.
- Camber wear: Positive or negative camber wear may cause the inside or outside of the tread to wear more than the center.
- Heel or toe wear: This tire wire occurs when one side of the tread block wears down faster than the other in a circumferential direction. The tread will feel like a saw when you run your hand over it.
Front-end Alignment vs. 4-Wheel Alignment
Many people don’t know the difference between front-end and 4-wheel alignments. A front-end alignment is also known as a 2-wheel alignment and only focuses on the front wheels. It often includes toe, camber, and caster adjustments. You may also need a thrust angle adjustment to ensure all four wheels properly align.
On the other hand, a 4-wheel alignment involves adjusting all four wheels, usually on all-wheel-drive vehicles with independent suspensions. The alignment process may include adjusting the front toe and caster for the front wheels and the toe and camber for the rear wheels.
Signs You Need to Get a Front-end Alignment
Most manufacturers recommend wheel alignments about every 50,000 miles. However, you may need to perform a front-end alignment before the recommended service interval if you notice the following signs:
- Uneven tread wear when you compare the two front wheels
- The vehicle tends to pull you sideways when you’re driving straight
- You’re driving straight ahead, but the steering wheel isn’t perfectly centered
- The car tends to vibrate when you’re driving
- The vehicle handling feels unusually loose when driving
If you experience any of these problems, you should visit a technician for an alignment check. The front-end alignment process involves various measurements and maneuvers to ensure proper adjustment. You should leave this task to an experienced professional for the best results.
It’s worth noting that different vehicles have different sets of alignment specifications that you must meet to achieve proper wheel alignment. Reputable automotive repair shops use alignment machines to complete the job correctly and to your vehicle’s specifications.
Front-end alignment is an integral part of your car’s maintenance schedule. Therefore, getting it done according to the vehicle manufacturer’s and your technician’s recommendations is critical to ensuring your car runs smoothly and safely. It also helps preserve your vehicle’s overall value.
Please call Welker Automotive today to schedule a consultation if you need more information about front-end alignment or reliable tire service in Sanford or Lake Mary, FL.