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You want to go straight when the steering wheel is straight, right? And you want to turn when you're steering, yeah? I think we can all agree that you should always go in the angle you’re steering. This isn’t Mario Kart. This is exactly what an alignment helps with. A wheel alignment alters the geometry and angle of the tires in relation to the car. There are three main aspects that are associated with an alignment: camber, caster, and toe. Camber is the tilt of the wheel when looking from front to back along the tire’s tread. How much does the top of the wheels camber angle point towards or away from the car when steering straight? Caster is the tilt of the main suspension component in relation to the wheel, when looking at the rim face. Think about a hand on a clock. That’s essentially what a caster is like. Toe is the rotation inward or outward of the wheel when looking from above. It’s whether or not your car’s wheels are pigeon-toed. The components to adjust these settings are located in the wheel wells of your car. Having these adjustments all wacky can result in unwanted feedback and unpredictable handling. But when dialed in correctly, it can help make your car’s handling feel buttery smooth, just the way you like it. The more miles you put on your car, the more the bumps, turns, and everyday wear and tear screws with the alignment, and eventually everything needs to be put back in place, like a good chiropractor does.
Hey there! It’s me, your good friend, just checking in on that routine maintenance you love to talk about so much! Okay, passive aggression aside, I get it. Routine maintenance seems silly. Your car is gonna live forever, just like you, right? You don’t need to floss. You don’t need to go to the doctor for a check up. And you don’t need routine maintenance. Except you need all of those things, and if you keep up on routine maintenance you’ll be able to have a wheel alignment before they cause any further (read: expensive) damage to your car.
A tell-tale sign of a car in need of an alignment is uneven tire wear . If you find yourself replacing tires earlier than you’re supposed to, get an alignment. And also get a new tire place, because anyone changing your tires should be able to tell you if your car needs an alignment. On that note…
Every time you change any of these items, it’s a good idea to set your alignment. New parts have different geometries than warn parts, which result in changes to the alignment of all the parts. It’s like changing the amount of flour you’re putting in your cookies without adjusting the butter or sugar. Just change it all together, and your car will be happier.
Hopefully you never find yourself asking your car where you’re going. It should be asking you. But if you notice that your car is doing things you didn’t tell it to do, this is a sign to fix that alignment.
In addition to the excess wear on your tires, needing a wheel alignment can cause damage to other, more serious components of your car. Do you want to spend more money in the long term, while being less safe in the short term? Probably not. Get an alignment if you’re noticing any of the symptoms above.
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