Wheel alignment, also referred to as tyre alignment, is a vital aspect of vehicle maintenance that involves adjusting the angles of the wheels to ensure they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Correct wheel alignment is important for several reasons:
- Tyre Wear: Incorrect wheel alignment can lead to uneven tyre wear. When the wheels are not properly aligned, certain parts of the tyres may experience more friction and wear, reducing their lifespan.
- Handling and Stability: Properly aligned wheels contribute to better handling and stability of the vehicle. When the wheels are aligned correctly, the vehicle is easier to control, especially during turns and on uneven road surfaces.
- Fuel Efficiency: Misaligned wheels can create additional rolling resistance, which requires the engine to work harder to move the vehicle. This can result in decreased fuel efficiency and higher fuel consumption.
- Safety: Improper wheel alignment can lead to poor steering response, which could compromise your ability to react effectively in emergency situations.
- Suspension Components: Correct wheel alignment also ensures that suspension components, such as control arms and struts, work optimally and experience less stress, potentially extending their lifespan.
There are three primary angles adjusted during a wheel alignment:
- Camber: This angle refers to the tilt of the wheels inward or outward when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Proper camber ensures even tyre wear and helps maintain stability.
- Toe: Toe alignment refers to the angle at which the tyres point inward or outward when viewed from above. Proper toe alignment ensures that the tyres are parallel to each other and helps prevent excessive tyre wear.
- Caster: Caster angle refers to the inclination of the steering axis when viewed from the side of the vehicle. It affects steering stability and is particularly important for vehicles with power steering.
To ensure proper wheel alignment, it’s recommended to have your vehicle’s alignment checked periodically or whenever you notice signs of uneven tyre wear, steering problems, or handling issues. A professional mechanic uses specialised equipment to measure and adjust the alignment angles as needed to ensure your vehicle’s optimal performance and safety.