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Wheel Alignment

Do You Really Need A Wheel Alignment?

Do you know how important wheel alignment is as part of your tyre’s maintenance? It’s not uncommon to see that the majority of road users only pay attention to their tyres when a puncture is detected, or there is noticeable wear and tear. A conventional driver’s idea of tyre maintenance is far from what is required to avoid the undesired expenses of misaligned wheels.

Is Getting A Wheel Alignment It Worth?

A wheel alignment probably does so much than saving you the cost of the procedure. To get more money-saving tips, refer to our guide on fuel economy.

Misalignment of your vehicle’s wheels will have an unequal driving pressure pushed onto the tyres, causing the car to experience resistance from the ground due to uneven friction. This will, in turn, cause your vehicle to force itself to work much harder to operate well, resulting in excessive fuel consumption.

Based on research, misaligned tyres do not roll freely. Instead, they drag along the road. Having well-aligned tyres is a determinant of strong fuel efficiency. The presence of misalignment reduces fuel efficiency by up to 10%. Currently, the average Australian fuel price is $1.46 per litre. This implies you could be wasting about 15 cents per litre just from misaligned wheels.

Other additional costs linked to misaligned tyres, among many, include:

  • The quality of a vehicle’s suspension is massively affected by the wheel alignment. And as such may pose a severe risk of ruining the suspension components, thereby creating costly repairs that can be avoided. In an analysis, it is discovered that the price for a shock absorber replacement ranges from $150 to well over $600. Vehicles with electronically controlled shock absorbers will be spending nothing less than $1000.
  • Unnecessary wear and tear on your tyres. That ultimately leads to extra unwanted expenses on replacing your tyres too soon. Uneven wear has the potential of reducing the lifespan of your tyres up to 15%.
  • As stated by the NSW Centre for Road Safety, wheel alignment is an essential part of your vehicle’s safety. Misaligned wheels can drastically increase the risk of a vehicle accident as handling and braking distances are compromised. Putting a car with misaligned wheels on the road poses such a danger, will you gamble with your life?

Why Should You Get A Wheel Alignment?

You can save money from getting a wheel alignment, although there’s an array of factors that indicate the necessity of one for your vehicle. Just that your wheel fitter recommends an alignment doesn’t necessarily mean that your car needs one. A wheel alignment is necessary for both rear and front-wheel drive vehicles.

What To Look Out For

The first impression that your vehicle needs the service is when the steering considerably pulls to either side. Do not forget that roads are not meant to be perfectly flat. When your vehicle is slowly drifting to the side, it is not a sign of misalignment. And that is because all roads have creases, causing the car to drift off to the side slowly. Nevertheless, if your steering tugs are hard to either side, this is a potential symptom of a wrong alignment.

Other typical indications of a wheel misalignment are:

  • Vibration and shaking.
  • Uneven tyre wear. You can check it out yourself to be sure.
  • Noises described as creaking, knocking, squeaking, or rubbing.

Other Things To Consider For A Wheel Alignment

We further recommend that a wheel alignment is performed regularly to entirely avoid the previously mentioned problems that your vehicle may be faced with. It is advised that alignment is conducted when:

  • The tyre is aging. Alignment could be a necessary step because of the general wear and tear that your vehicle underwent each time it is driven. Aging tyres lose their elasticity and crack as time goes by, leading to a misalignment that will slowly worsen.
  • At the installment of new tyres. This is a suitable period to have your wheel alignment done as it can be accomplished all at once.
  • Suspension parts have been installed. You don’t want to have to dole out money to replace these components more often than necessary. Avoid this by having aligned wheels in place.
  • You have faced a road accident. A common hazard that may damage alignment is striking a barrier with your tyre. These obstacles include speed bumps, kerb, and potholes.
  • In general, every 12 months or 20,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.

How Much Does A Wheel Alignment Cost?

You may want to negotiate prices with fitting specialists to get the best price available. Compare the prices of fitting experts who can complete a wheel alignment while your tyres are being installed.

Understand What You Are Paying For?

Many do not know that there’s no difference in the fee paid for an inspection to see if wheel alignment is needed and the actual completing the actual alignment adjustments. More of the activity involved in a wheel alignment is the placement of the vehicle. The vehicle is driven on specially-designed lifting machinery, and the alignment equipment is then attached to each wheel. Afterward, the actual adjustments are no difficult task at all. All that is left to perform the wheel alignment is rotating and unlocking the metal sleeves connected to the steering linkage. Before you consent to a wheel alignment inspection, make sure you are sure of what the fee entails first.

The Technicalities: What Is A Wheel Alignment?

The process incorporating a series of measurements and adjustments to the advanced steering and suspension alignment angles is what is called wheel alignment. These angles ensure the wheels are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another. Suspension tuning largely affects the vehicle's performance, handling, and wear of your tyres.

The Wheel Alignment Process

Camber Adjustment: Here, the vertical angles that depict how far the wheels drift away from or towards the vehicle. If the wheels are leaning too far from the car, the inner edges will be the most susceptible part of the tyre. This will push the tyre to worsen at a fast pace. The issue is different with wheels leaning too far away from the vehicle. The exterior of the tyre will be more exposed to extreme tyre wear.

Toe Adjustment: this involves the angles that the wheels are tilted towards, which either could be inwards or outwards. Note that wheels are never adjusted absolutely parallel to one another. Each vehicle model requires a distinct amount of toe-out or toe-in tolerance.

Caster Adjustment: this measure affects the position of backward and forward tilt within the steering axis. Another name for the caster is the crouch angle. This imbalance may cause the front and back end of the vehicle to become misaligned, causing irregular tyre wear. However, it poses a severe risk because speeds above 60 kilometers will make the car unstable.

Don’t Confuse Wheel Alignment With Wheel Balance

Perhaps you’ve also made the mistake of assuming a wheel balance is the same process as a wheel alignment. Wheel balancing has to do with how weight is distributed between the tyre and wheel assembly to ensure that it spins (runs) evenly at high speeds. A wheel alignment is, however, a process of changing angles to make sure each of your wheels is parallel to one another and perpendicular to the ground.

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