There are two different types of alignments that may be done on your vehicle, a two-wheel alignment where the front wheels are aligned or a four-wheel alignment where all four wheels are aligned. Whether it needs a two-wheel or four-wheel alignment depends on your vehicle, but newer vehicles will be four-wheel aligned. Aligning the wheels of your vehicle ensures the safety operation by keeping the tires in good condition and reducing any sort of pull on the vehicle.
According to Jason, the owner of Accurso Automobile Repair in Oxford, FL, there are three different angles that are focused on when your vehicle is being aligned: toe, camber, and caster:
Toe is the angle of the tires that describes whether the front of the tires are angled in towards each other or out away from each other (think of your toes on your feet and if you walk with your toes pointed in or walk with your toes pointed out). The angle should be straight and if this angle is out of alignment it can cause the tires to jump, wear, and to fail prematurely. If the toe angle is not aligned it also causes undue stress on the other steering components of the vehicle, as well.
Camber is another angle that is focused on during the alignment and it describes whether or not the top of the tire is leaning in or leaning out. Think of it as looking at the tire from the front or rear of the car, and the wheels tipping in towards each other or the wheels tipping out (if you hold your hands up parallel to one another with palms facing, and move the tips of fingers in or tip them out, you will be replicating this angle). The camber angle not being aligned can cause uneven tire wear, as well as a pull.
Caster is the third angle that is focused on when getting a wheel alignment, and is described as an invisible angle. This angle can effect if the vehicle drifts to the right or left.
It’s standard for you to get your vehicle aligned every 2 years or 24,000 miles, unless you are seeing faulty tire wear or if you have to replace a component that requires an alignment (such as tie rod ends, ball joints, struts or shocks, etc). It may also be done when you get new tires on your vehicle. The technician will know if you are having issues due to alignment.
Tire rotations are important to keep up on, as this allows the technician to inspect the tires and see if you are having uneven tire wear that could be a result of the alignment of the car.
If you have questions or want your alignment checked, call your trusted local Napa Autocare Center.