CAR is much more than pointing the tires straight ahead. It is looking at angles and adjusting them to make the car or truck track the best on the road according to the manufacturer. Camber, caster, toe and the thrust angle all play a very important part in how your car drives and how straight it drives on roads with a crown. An Experienced technician will be able to tell you how your vehicle truck drives just by looking at the alignment. Its also crucial to annually check your alignment because it does not take much for it to fall out of alignment. Potholes and separation cracks in the road continuously beat away at the suspension and your alignment.
Road handling benefits
Camber is the angle when looking head on into a tire. Is it straight up and down or leaning inward or outward? Some camber is good and too much can be bad and cause excessive tire wear. Some European cars like a lot of cambers for the road handling benefits. BMW for example has a lot of negative camber and contributes to their race car like driving experience. When driving behind a BMW next time you will see the top of the tire leaning in towards the car. Your basic commuter car on the other hand will have closer to zero degrease of camber. This is good for fuel economy and overall even tire wear. Excessive camber can cause extreme inside tire wear and cupping if the tread is an off-road style truck tire.
Caster does not cause tire wear but does contribute significantly to how your car handles on a road crown and the highway. That is caster at work. Because of caster your steering wheel likes to sit straight ahead and track straight down the road. Now to picture caster you need to draw a line from the top ball joint or pivot point through the bottom ball joint. That is the axis on which the tire turns from side to side. Positive caster is where the line tilts back towards the driver and this Is what we want. Negative caster would be like the wheels on a shopping cart and it would be uncontrollable on a car.
Toe is the angle you think of most when driving a car or truck. Is your steering wheel strait when driving? I hope so. Alignments are the best insurance to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck on those new shiny rubbers and make sure it is a four-wheel alignment.
The Rear of Car
The rear of the car is what actually determines the direction of the car. Are they straight ahead or off to one side or the other? A seasoned technician will look at this angle before adjusting the front, so they can get the steering wheel as straight as possible.
Now you know why you need an alignment! Remember potholes here in Colorado Springs are brutal and constantly taking a toll on your alignment and the suspension parts that make all of that movement possible. From ball joints, control arm bushings, tie rods and your shocks all taking the brunt of our rough roads its good to have a seasoned mechanic “shake-down” the suspension before an alignment to see If anything needs replacement before an alignment. At Honest Accurate Auto Service, we do just that, and we show you if anything is wrong.