Q: Why is alignment so important?
A: You get a safer, smoother ride, better gas mileage, and tires that wear evenly and last longer. Your vehicle tracks straight and true only when all four wheels are properly aligned to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Q: How can I tell whether my car needs an alignment?
A: The most common symptoms: pulling to one side or the other when driving on a straight, level road; a steering wheel that’s askew; or, excessive and uneven tire wear. Ask for a free alignment check.
Q: What causes alignment problems?
A: Your vehicle can be knocked out of alignment—in an accident with front end damage, for example, or by hitting a pothole or curb. Most of the time, though, your vehicle gradually goes out of alignment because of wear, stress, and vibration in the components of your steering and suspension system.
Q: My car sometimes veers to the right if I don’t firmly hold the steering wheel. Should I schedule an appointment for an alignment?
A: Most roads have a crown—the pavement is higher at the centerline than at the shoulders—sometimes quite noticeably, so that water drains off for safety. It’s normal for your car to track slightly to the right on a crowned road. Brake problems, power steering issues, even a slightly flat tire, can cause pulling. If in doubt, come to Tolker Auto Service for a free assessment.
Q: At highway speeds, I feel a vibration in the steering wheel. Could this be an alignment problem?
A: Many drivers confuse wheel alignment with wheel balancing. Most steering vibrations are caused by unbalanced wheels. In fact, proper alignment can actually magnify the effect.
Q: What is camber?
A: Camber is the angle between the wheel and the road as viewed from the front of the vehicle. At zero degrees, the wheel is straight up and down and the tread flat on the road. The manufacturer sets camber for optimal control and tire wear. Today, many automakers specify slightly negative camber—the bottom of the tire slightly further out than the top—to improve cornering. Too negative, and camber wear results on the inside tire edge; too positive, on the outside edge. Camber is not adjustable on many front-wheel drive cars and requires replacement parts to correct faulty alignment.
Q: What is caster?
A: Caster is the angle between the steering axis and true vertical. Think of how caster wheels extend from the swivel points on a shopping cart. This setting can affect straight tracking and how “light” or “heavy” your steering feels. As with camber, caster is not adjustable on many front-wheel drive cars. Faulty caster indicates that a part is worn or bent and needs replacement.
Q: What is toeing?
A: When you stand at attention, your feet can “toe in” or “toe out.” That’s not a problem for walking, but for car wheels it’s a big problem. Your wheels actually fight each other to maintain direction, significantly affecting handling and mileage. Toeing causes a saw tooth tread wear pattern. With toe in, the wear points to the inside of the car; the outside with toe out.
Q: What happens during a car alignment?
A: A wheel alignment corrects the angle of the wheels relative to the frame of your car, truck, or van. Alignment of today’s high performance vehicles is a complex process that requires precise measurements. As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration advises, these adjustments require special equipment and should be performed by a qualified technician.*
Q: How do the mechanics at Tolker Auto Service fix vehicle alignment?
A: Our experienced technicians clamp a computerized instrument onto each wheel. The device takes exacting measurements and assists in restoring alignment to the original manufacturer’s specifications. Technician also examines your vehicle’s entire suspension and steering system for part wear, corrosion, and damage.
*National Highway Transportation Safety Administration brochure DOT HS 809 361, available at www.nhtsa.gov.
Tolker Auto Service
427A E Diamond A ve
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
+1 301 869-9360+1 301 869-9360
+1 301 947-8689
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