Tire Alignment Service In Louisville, KY
Wheel alignment, also called breaking, tracking, or just alignment is essential for a smooth, safe ride with minimal tire wear. An alignment adjusts the suspension so that all four tires point straight down, giving you the best traction and maneuverability possible. Here are some common questions about wheel alignment.
How Do Wheel Alignments Work?
During your wheel alignment, a professional will check your vehicle’s steering, tire condition, and tire wear. Technicians also look at the car’s ride height (which refers to the ground clearance) and its camber, caster, and toe angles. If one end of the car is higher than the other, adjusting the alignment can correct the problem and improve fuel efficiency.
Caster is the angle of the steering axis, the springs in the suspension that support the wheels and tires. These springs are usually vertical. When they lean forward, the caster angle is negative. When they lean backward, it’s positive. In many vehicles, a positive angle improves traction and handling.
Meanwhile, camber refers to how much the tires tilt inward or outward when you’re looking at the front of your vehicle. Tires with negative camber are tilted in, and those with positive camber are tilted outward. Camber is usually neutral, but vehicles with negative camber are more suited for taking sharp turns.
Toe is how much the wheels and tires turn in or out when you’re looking at the vehicle from above. Inward toe means the front edges of the wheels are closer to each other than the centers. With outward toe, the front edges turn away from each other. Front-wheel-drive vehicles usually have outward toe, and many rear-wheel-drive vehicles have a toe-in setting. These alignment settings keep the wheels from moving too far or away from each other during acceleration.
What Are the Benefits of a Wheel Alignment?
Adjusting your suspension’s wheel alignment can make your vehicle up to 10% more fuel-efficient. Conserving fuel lets you save money, and it helps the environment by reducing pollution.
An alignment also makes steering easier by keeping the vehicle from drifting to the left or right when you want to go in a straight line. This can prevent accidents and make the entire driving process safer and less stressful.
The proper alignment prevents excess wear and damage from other problems as well. Incorrect alignment forces many components to work harder, including the brakes, transmission, and engine. It can force you to replace parts more often, which can become costly. If you hit a pothole or another obstacle with misaligned wheels, you could suffer from increased damage to your tires and suspension, also making your repair expenses higher.
When Should Drivers Get a Wheel Alignment?
With most vehicles, you should have the alignment checked every six months. Check the owner’s manual for your ride’s specifications. Most cars need alignment adjustments every two or three years, but getting regular checks will let you correct alignment issues before they damage your tires and impact handling. If you drive off-road or on roads with lots of potholes often, get your vehicle’s alignment checked whenever you get an oil change or other maintenance. You should also have your car’s alignment examined if you notice unusual tire wear, unresponsive steering, or vibrations.
Wear on the inner or outer edges of your tires can indicate a misaligned camber, and feathering is a sign you need multiple adjustments. This is when one side of each tire tread or tread block looks taller than the other, resembling ruffled feathers. With heel/toe wear (also called heel-to-toe wear), your tires’ tread blocks are more worn in the front from braking or in the back from contact with the road. This could mean you need a tire rotation or an alignment.
A wheel that bounces up and down too much can lead to tire cupping or scalloping. These types of damage look like a series of depressions on your tires’ treads and keep them from making contact with the road the way they should. If your tires aren’t making full contact with the road, they’re also more likely to squeak or squeal when you brake or make a sharp turn. You should see a professional to find out if you have a problem with your alignment or your brakes. You could also need new tires or have very low tire pressure. You can find your car’s recommended tire pressure on the inner part of the driver’s-side door near the floor.
Poor wheel alignment can also cause vibration in the wheels and tires as well as a noisy or bumpy ride. These vibrations are especially noticeable at high speeds or when braking, and you could get unusual vibrations in the steering wheel as well.
Another sign of poor alignment is a steering wheel that turns by itself if you let it go for a few seconds on a straight road. If your alignment needs major adjustments, you could also notice a crooked steering wheel. It will stay turned slightly toward the left or right even when you’re parked or going straight. Cars with this problem often have unresponsive steering, making parking, turning, and staying in one lane difficult.
Should Drivers Get a Two-Wheel or a Four-Wheel Alignment?
A two-wheel alignment adjusts the front wheels, and a four-wheel alignment moves all four wheels. Vehicles with solid rear axles usually don’t need four-wheel alignments unless they’ve been in an accident that could have damaged the rear axle. However, many modern cars, trucks, and SUVs have four-wheel independent suspensions that always require a four-wheel alignment. If you’re not sure what type of suspension your vehicle has, check your owner’s manual.
Why Go to a Dealership for Auto Service?
At a car dealership, experienced mechanics will work on your car, and they’ll use the best parts and equipment available. You can also enjoy a comfortable waiting room and polite, friendly staff who will make your satisfaction their first priority.
At Oxmoor Toyota, certified Toyota specialists who participate in regular training will examine your vehicle. You’ll get free inspections and car washes, and your vehicle’s warranty may cover regular maintenance along with many other services. We’re open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.