Often the term wheel alignment or wheel tracking can be thrown around – but what is wheel tracking? And what causes bad wheel alignment? Find out everything you need to know about wheel alignment today.
Wheel alignment is the process of setting a vehicle’s wheels to point in the optimal direction to provide enhanced handling, comfortable driving and longer lasting tyres. The correct position for your wheels is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and your wheels are adjusted to their correct specification during manufacture.
Your wheel alignment can be affected by impact caused by minor driving occurrences such as hitting kerbs or driving over potholes, as well as by any wear to the suspension system. In addition, any work you may have carried out to the wheels, tyres or suspension of your vehicle may also impact your wheel alignment.
Checking and correcting wheel alignment is a relatively simple and affordable task. The process consists of checking and adjusting the angles of your wheels to ensure that they face the geometrically precise direction. The angles by which wheel alignment is measured include:
The caster is the angle created by the steering pivots from the front to the back of the vehicle. This affects the stability of the vehicle, so misalignment can result in difficulty controlling the car.
The toe measurement identifies which direction the wheels are pointing relative to the centre of the vehicle and is defined as the difference in distance between the front of the tyres and the back of the tyres.
Camber is the vertical tilting of the wheels. As the camber angle controls how much of the wheel is in contact with the road, too great a difference between camber angles can cause the vehicle to pull to one side and may make tyres wear unevenly.
Now you know what causes wheel alignment to change, if you have noticed any of the signs listed below, we would recommend visiting your local Merityre Specialists branch for a free wheel alignment check. We will check the alignment of your wheels and offer advice if it needs any correction work carrying out.
Fortunately, problems with wheel alignment are easy to identify and if you notice any of the following signs you should get your wheel alignment checked by a tyre specialist.
Your vehicle pulls to the side when travelling in a straight line
Your tyres are wearing unevenly or more rapidly than usual
Your steering wheel remains at an angle when you are driving straight
You should also have your wheel alignment checked every 12,000 – 15,000 miles and following any work carried out to your steering, suspension, wheels or tyres.