It’s a well-known (and pretty obvious!) fact that the wheels and tyres on a vehicle have an interdependent working relationship — relying on each other to get their jobs done and drivers where they need to go! However, what’s not always so quickly recognised is that no matter how good your tyres are, if the wheels are not correctly aligned, it can cause damage to your tyres and the vehicle won’t perform optimally!
With this in mind, it stands to reason that when it comes to the longevity of your tyres, along with a vehicle’s handling, safety and contact with the road — wheel alignment plays a vital role and its importance should never be underestimated.
Let’s take a quick look at how to know when a wheel alignment is needed, how wheel alignment affects both the tyres and the vehicle’s operation and some terms commonly associated with wheel alignment that are helpful in understanding the process.
First up, how do you know when it’s time to do an alignment?
General wear and tear, driving on uneven terrains as well as incidents such as hitting a curb or pothole can affect your wheel alignment.
If wheels are out of alignment, this often becomes noticeable with your vehicle pulling to one side of the road, vibrating or when you see your tyres wearing unevenly. However, even if none of these symptoms show up and your wheels and tyres seem to be operating as they are supposed to, wheels should be aligned at regular intervals (approximately every 10,000km) as well as whenever the tyres are rotated, or new tyres are fitted.
The wheel’s angle to the vehicle and some important terms
The wheel’s angle on a vehicle is key to its alignment – with the way the wheel is angled on your vehicle affected by three main factors known as – Camber, Caster and Toe Out/In.
Camber is the inward or outward tilt of your tyres, with positive camber meaning your tyre is tilting out at the top – and negative camber being an inward tilt. When your vehicle is stationary, a slightly positive camber is normal, as the tyres will become approximately vertical once the vehicle is in motion.
Caster is the relationship between the steering axis and true vertical angle and will usually depend on the age of your vehicle. Unequal caster causes the steering to pull to the side.
Toe in and Toe out are the terms used to describe whether the front of the tyres (or wheels) are closer (Toe In) or further apart (Toe Out) than the rear of the tyres (or wheels) when viewed from the top. Generally, vehicles tyres will have a slight Toe In when stationary and will become parallel once the vehicle is in motion.
Where to get alignment done?
Alignment should always be carried out by a tyre or auto professional using a proper wheel alignment machine– making sure that your wheels and tyres are aligned correctly and your vehicle is safe to hit the road again! For alignment (or other tyre advice) contact one of our friendly and professional Maxxis Dealers conveniently situated in your area.