Maybe you’ve just had new tires installed on your vehicle, you accidentally clipped a curb more than once, or you’ve just put a lot of miles on your car and now it’s time for an alignment. You’ve made the right decision considering that a vehicle that is out of alignment could damage your suspension system, cause premature tire wear, and affect your safety, overall.
Once your vehicle is inspected and the alignment is performed, the technician will hand you a print out detailing the before and after specs of your vehicle. These reports can be difficult to interpret and leave you with many questions. Follow our tips on how to understand a wheel alignment report before your next alignment service.
Camber, Caster, and Toe Defined
Alignment is actually the geometry of the suspension system to make certain that the wheels are lined up and rotate at the same speed as well as direction. Your vehicle leaves the manufacturer perfectly aligned. Over time though, your vehicle’s suspension system falls out of line.
Camber is the angle in which the wheel and tire stands in relation to the road. Camber is often positioned with a moderate angle instead of completely perpendicular to help offset the forces from cornering.
Caster is the top to bottom angle of the steering axis in relation to suspension components at the wheel. The caster setting is what helps make your car drive in a straight line with directional stability and return to that state once a turn is completed.
Toe is the measure of direction for which the wheels are rolling. It is important that the wheels roll in the same direction in sync.
Reading Your Alignment Report
Once the vehicle’s alignment falls out of the predetermined specifications, it needs to be corrected. To determine the vehicle’s wheel alignment specifications, the technician uses an alignment machine.
Once the vehicle is measured, the details are entered into the alignment machine which then prints out the vehicle’s current alignment for both the front and rear wheels, what the wheel alignment should be, and the degree of how it needs to be adjusted to accomplish perfect or near-perfect alignment.
What To Look For In Your Wheel Alignment Report
Most often alignment reports are printed in color that indicate whether the particular angle is in or out of alignment. Red usually indicates that the alignment is off while green indicates that particular measurement is acceptable. Occasionally, the print out will include yellow, meaning the vehicle is approaching it’s specification limit.
Positive or Negative Numbers
Next to or within the color, you’ll see numbers, measured in degrees that indicate whether there is too much or too little to the angle in the measurement. A positive number for example, means that the wheel has too much camber, caster, or toe. A negative number means that there is not enough in the angle of camber, caster, or toe. Both numbers indicate the adjustment needs to be made in the opposite direction.
Caster is positive when the load is ahead or pulling on the spindle. Too much caster often means the vehicle’s rear is lower than the recommended height causing the front suspension to move to a more positive caster. Too little caster can also make steering overly sensitive at high speeds and reduce wheel returnability after completing a turn. If one wheel has more positive caster than the other, the wheel will cause the car to pull in that direction.
Camber is positive when wheels tilt away at the top. Conversely, when wheels tilt in towards the center of the vehicle at the top, the camber is negative. Too much positive camber causes premature tire wear on the outside of the tire while too much negative camber causes wear on the inside of the tire.
Toe is positive when the wheels are turned in and when turned outward, toe is negative. The amount of toe is usually only a fraction of a degree. To ensure the wheels roll parallel to each other, toe should be properly adjusted. Poor toe alignment causes poor steering ability and premature wear on tires.
You might be surprised when reading your alignment report that the specifications can be rather broad between positive and negative. Likewise, each vehicle make, and model can have varying measurements that determine what is normal, positive, or negative. Vehicle engineers have done testing and lots of research to determine the ideal specifications for your car.
Alignments with Sun Devil Auto
Poorly aligned wheels cause tires to wear out faster than usual, which can put your safety at risk. Poor tire tread impedes your vehicle’s ability to stop, especially on wet or icy roads. Inspect the condition of your tires to ensure they are wearing evenly and are set to the correct pressure.
Sun Devil Auto has state-of-the-art alignment equipment to complete the alignment on your vehicle. Our friendly technicians will check your vehicle’s alignment and provide a print out detailing your vehicle’s current specifications both before and after the alignment is complete all in about an hour. Schedule your appointment for a wheel alignment today!