Tire maintenance is a critical part of keeping your vehicle safe, reliable and efficient. There are precautionary steps you can take to help prevent further damage.
Proper wheel alignment is a very important part of your car’s tire-maintenance. Regularly having your alignment checked and properly adjusted can significantly lengthen their lifespan and make your car more efficient.
There are several ways your wheels can become misaligned, and each can result in a different type of wear on your tires. It is critical that you address issues with your alignment immediately to avoid damage (and cost of additional repair) to your wheels/tires.
Symptoms of Misalignment
If your vehicle is pulling to one direction or another when attempting to drive straight, it is a sign that your wheels are misaligned. Not only will it become worse over time, and an increasing inconvenience to drive due to the need to constantly pull the wheel to correct the drifting, but it can do irreparable damage to your tires fairly quickly. The cost of realignment is much less than the cost of replacing even two of your tires.
Another symptom of poor alignment is vibration felt in the steering wheel, which is also an inconvenience in driving, and carries the same risk of tire-wear.
If you notice unusual or uneven wear in your tires, it may already be too late to save that set of tires, however replacing your tires without getting your alignment issues corrected is just going to result in another set of worn tires before you know it.
It’s best to attend to your alignment issues before you see wear.
Automobile manufacturers recommend your alignment be checked and adjusted every year, or 12-15k miles, whether or not you’ve noticed any tell-tale signs of misalignment.
Causes of Misalignment
Everyday driving causes eventual misalignment. Simply taking the same roads daily, with the same rough road, potholes or bumps in the road can lead to slight or moderate misalignment over time. Not only that, but sudden or jarring impacts can noticeably affect your alignment immediately. If you’ve recently made contact with a large pothole, or a curb, or particularly rough road, you may want to pay close attention to any changes in your vehicle’s handling, and address any changes immediately by having your alignment checked.
Types of Alignment Issues
There are several different types of alignment issues that can arise from daily driving or sudden impact, that are all checked and addressed when you visit a repair shop for an alignment check. Each of these types of misalignment can cause different types of wear on your tires fairly quickly.
Camber - The angle that the tire makes when you look at it from the front of your car is referred to as the camber angle.
A positive camber means the top of the tire leans away from the car, and a negative camber is when the top of the tire tilts towards the car.
When the camber angle is not adjusted well, your tire experiences a disproportionate amount of pressure on one side of its treads. This can lead to uneven, and premature wear on the portion of the tire taking the extra pressure.
Caster- The caster angle is the measure of the steering pivot when seen from the side of the car.
Badly adjusted and mismatched caster angles can compromise your car’s handling and cause problems when you are driving straight.
If the caster angles on each side of your car are not balanced, you will tend to drift towards one side.
Toe-In- The toe measurement is the difference of the measurement of the distance between the front of the tires and the back of the tires.
This means that if your tires are perfectly straight, the toe measurement should be zero.
Badly adjusted toe measurements need to be addressed immediately since they can result in the rapid wear of your tire’s treads and reduction in fuel economy.
Over or under inflation of your tires can cause unusual and rapid wear of your tires. It is important that you are regularly checking or having your tire pressure checked. In addition to irregular wear, improperly set tire pressure can affect your vehicle’s handling as well as traction.
Tire wear on just one edge of your tire suggests an incorrect camber angle.
Tire wear occurring feathered out (less localized than camber wear) from one edge of your tire suggest your vehicles wheels are positioned either toe-in or toe-out.
Wear occurring in the center of your tire is the result of an over-inflated tire.
Wear occurring on both outer edges is the result of under inflation.
If you maintain your alignment and tire pressure properly you should see nice, even wear across all treads. Spreading the pressure and contact with the road across all treads will minimize damage to your tires and maximize the life of them, ultimately saving you money.
If you look at the picture for over-worn tires, you will see that the left side of the tire is completely bald while the outside is less worn. While this tire is well past the legal limit for tread wear, you can clearly see how imbalanced wear affects your tires. Not only will you need to replace your tires before the whole tire is worn, but they will wear faster due to the extra pressure and awkward angle on the tire tread.
Your Alignment Check and Adjustment
When you visit Bird Chevrolet for an Alignment Check/Adjustment, it isn’t just your alignment that is addressed. Several things that contribute to your tires’ wear are addressed.
- Full Front-End Steering Component Check including Camber/Caster/Toe Misalignments
- Check and Set Tire Pressure
- Tire-Wear Assessment
We will check everything we need to, to make sure you are getting the most out of your tires, and your car.
Our brand new, state of the art, Hunter alignment machine provides alignment measurements with pin-point accuracy to ensure you are driving away with perfectly calibrated alignment for your vehicle.