Why Wheel Alignment Is Important For Your Car Or Truck
The wheel alignment on your car or truck is a critical part of the vehicle's handling and drivability. If the alignment is off, it may be due to worn parts in the suspension that need replacing or some other issue that can be diagnosed by a tech at your local auto repair center.
One of the most common alignments you will see shops advertise is a front-end alignment. The front wheels on the car are the only ones aligned in this case, and many people believe that is all that is required because the front is where all the steering parts are.
There was a time when a front-end alignment was about all that was possible, but with modern cars and trucks with much more sophisticated suspension systems, there are far more adjustments available on all four corners of the vehicle. If you choose only to align the front end, the car's rear may not track with the front, and tire wear can become a problem on the rear tires.
Often the tires scuff a little on the pavement because as the car turns into a corner, the front and rear tires are doing two very different things. You may also notice the car crab-walking a little in straight sections of the road if the rear is not aligned to the front end.
Computers and Lasers
In the past, techs used bubble levels and squares to align the car, but today's technology has changed that process, and a technician at an auto repair center now has the benefit of computer and laser alignment systems. These systems allow the tech to bring the alignment back to factory specs with a few adjustments if the suspension of the car is in good shape.
The car is fitted with reflectors, and a laser is used to measure the wheels' position. The information is fed directly into the computer that calculates the alignment and then outputs information the tech can use to make the proper adjustments to align the car.
The process is much faster and far more accurate than the old way of doing it, but if there is a worn part on the car, it can be challenging to bring the alignment into spec. Often a ball joint, tie rod, or steering link will need replacing before the auto repair tech can complete the alignment.
If the tech finds a part that is bad during the alignment, the auto repair center will call you to determine if they should replace it or not. If you do not replace the part, they may not be able to complete the alignment until after the repairs are made. Reach out to an auto repair shop to learn more.