WE ARE FRONT END SPECIALISTS!
We now have a new, state of the art, computerized front end
To get the best wear and performance from your tires, the alignment of
the tires is critical. Poor alignment occurs when the suspension and
steering systems are out of adjustment. Incorrect alignment settings will
usually result in abnormal tread wear. Take any unusual wear patterns as a
clue, and get it checked, but before you do, make sure the inflation
pressures are correct, as incorrect inflation can also cause uneven wear.
The different types of wheel alignments are front-end alignment, thrust
angle alignment, and four wheel alignment. In a front-end alignment, the
front only is checked. This is fine in some cases, but are the front tires
properly positioned in front of the rear tires ? With the thrust angle
alignment, that is checked so that the wheels are "squared" to each other.
This would eliminate the "dog tracking" that you may have seen on a car
that appears to be going down the road with rear end a foot over from the
front. The best way to align the car is a four wheel alignment. This will not
only do what the thrust angle alignment does, but also includes adjusting
the settings on the rear of the car as well as the front.
Not all cars are fully adjustable, but some are. The measurements that
need to be checked are caster, camber and toe.
Toe refers to the difference in distance between the front and the rear of
the tires. If the distance between the tires is less in the front than it is in
the rear, it is referred to as toe-in. It would be what could be commonly
called "pigeon toed". If the distance is greater between the front than it is
in the rear, that would be toe-out.
Camber describes the amount the tire is tilted away from vertical. A tire
has negative camber when the top of the tire leans inward toward the
center of the vehicle. Positive camber is when the top of the tire is leaned
outward from the center of the vehicle. The camber angle should be
adjusted so that the tire is vertical under cornering load. Properly set
camber will allow the tire to work at its best, but not have the tire putting
too much of its force on the inner edge while moving in a straight line. Tire
wear and handling become a compromise. Less negative camber typically
will reduce the cornering ability, but give very even wear. Next time you
see a photo of an Indy Car, see if you can notice how much camber there
is. That is certainly an example of wear not being anywhere near as
important as grip.
Caster is the most difficult of the three measurements to describe. If you
think back to your bicycle and remember how the tire tilted slightly when
turned, that was caster causing the tilt. If you drew an imaginary line
through the upper and lower ball joints and compared the angle of
difference to a line drawn perpendicular to the ground, the resulting
difference is the caster angle. Caster settings allow the manufacturer to
balance low speed steering effort and high speed stability. Increasing the
amount of positive caster will increase low speed steering effort, but
improve high speed stability. Caster also tends to cause an increase in the
amount of negative camber as the steering angle is increased.
Regular wheel alignments will usually save you as much in tire wear as
they cost. It should be considered routine, preventative maintenance.
With our modern alignment equipment, we can adjust your
suspension to the exacting standards that today's automobiles require.