Let’s get this straight: the facts about wheel alignment
When it comes to the longevity of your tyres, your vehicle’s handling and your safety – having the wheels correctly aligned should never be ignored, ensuring optimum contact with the road in all conditions.
It’s a fact that general wear and tear, as well as incidents such as hitting a curb or other obstacles in the road such as a pothole, can affect your wheel alignment. This often becomes noticeable with your vehicle pulling to one side of the road, vibrating or when you see your tyres wearing unevenly.
The way a wheel is angled on your vehicle is vital to its alignment and is affected by three main factors – 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 slight 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 is the term 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.
An expert will use diagnostic tooling to check these when aligning your tyres. It is recommended that your wheels should be aligned every time you change your tyres – and you should also take your vehicle to the local tyre shop to do an alignment check at regular intervals (approximately every 10,000kms).