Every winter new potholes form, and every spring we patch them up, but not before we hit a few of them. Potholes, curbs, and speed bumps can cause your wheels to get out of alignment. You will know your tires are misaligned if you feel the car pulling to one side or the other. It can be a gentle pull, or in severe cases you might have to actually hold your steering wheel partially turned in order to simply drive straight. But it is normally not this obvious. Over time, you may notice your tires are wearing unevenly. Leaving your wheels misaligned can wear out the insides or outsides of your tires, create damage to steering rods, and cause accidents.
Aligning tires does not involve any adjustments directly to your tire. Instead, it adjusts the hardware that holds the wheels in a certain position, mainly the steering rack. There are three things to consider when aligning a tire: the Caster, Camber, and Toe. Caster involves the angle of the steering pivot to the tire. Camber is the tilt of the tire. And Toe is the angle of the tire to the road—you’ve probably heard of pigeon toes, well it’s the same thing with cars.
Aligning tires used to be an incredibly time-consuming process, but with new technologies we are able to measure the Caster, Camber, and Toe of a tire rapidly and accurately. Many car-shops are now able to perform adjustments on all four tires for under a hundred dollars—depending on the make and model of your car, sometimes significantly under.
The alignment machine attaches to all four wheels and compares the Caster, Camber, and Toe to the manufacture’s setting. We are then able to manually adjust the steering rack so that your tires perform better and last longer. The perfect settings is different for every car. Alignment is not as simple as getting everything perfectly straight. But the good news is the hard work of calculating the perfect alignment has already been done by your manufacturer. We just need to plug and chug.