Why proper wheel alignment matters?
Both front and rear wheels of a car should be held by the suspension components in such a position as to ensure the optimal contact of the tyres with the road surface. This way the tyres wear slower and the car is more stable to drive, even on bumpy roads and when turning the front wheels.
What is wheel alignment?
One of the basic parameters determining the position of wheels is their alignment. It helps ensure that the wheels of one axle are positioned parallel to each other. In the case of front wheels, this parameter is adjusted by changing the length of the track rods. In the case of the rear axle, the Panhard rods are adjusted (provided that the manufacturer provides for adjusting rear alignment).
How is wheel alignment measured?
Each car model has a unique wheel alignment value expressed in degrees. In most front wheel drive cars the alignment is a negative value, while in the rear wheel drive cars - a positive one. Alignment is positive when the distance between the wheel edges of a given axle is shorter in front of it than behind it. In other words, looking from the top, the wheels are directed inward.
How is wheel alignment checked and adjusted?
Wheel alignment requires specialist equipment and you should not do it in your own garage. The car must be placed on a measuring platform and alignment gauges must be connected to each wheel. Next, the wheel alignment computer reads the parameters from each gauge and displays the current alignment figures on the screen. A mechanic loosens particular connections and rotates the track rods to adjust wheel alignment to the value displayed by the computer. Next, the previously loosened connections are tightened.
What else to keep in mind?
Correct wheel alignment ensures good driving, extends the useful life of tyres and suspension components. Wheel alignment changes as you use your car, so a good idea is to have it checked during every inspection and each time you drive into a hole in the road at a high speed. Correct wheel alignment makes your car comfortable to drive."