Wheel Alignment: Improving Your Vehicles Performance

A digital wheel alignment system will calculate all the necessary adjustments and angles needed to improve the vehicle. Here’s a guide to understanding wheel alignment and how it affects directional control and vehicle stability.

Wheel Alignment Angles

Although a number of dimensional angles are involved in wheel alignment, only three of them can be adjusted to achieve the best results from vehicle handling, tire life, and braking. Toe angle compares the distance between the center of the front tires and center of the rear of the tires on the same axle. The three possible conditions are the toe-in, toe- out and the zero toe. An imbalanced toe angle will affect directional control and tread wear. When a tire leans from top to bottom it is known as camber angle. It can be a positive, negative or zero camber angle. This could lead to more tread load and stress which increases the patch of the tires during turning.  The caster angle affects the steering end of the chassis.

Vehicle Misalignments

When a vehicle takes a turn, the toe angles of the wheel will change because of the inbuilt design and suspension that prevents tire scrubbing. The steering axis inclination is a non-adjustable angle between the center of the tire and the upper and lower ball joints. Digital Wheel Alignment can assess the damage or change that will affect the chassis. The scrub radius is also known as the pivot point and is created by the steering axis and load force. Greater effort will be required to steer when there is a negative scrub radius while a positive scrub radius will cause stress on the wheel bearings.  The geometric centerline and the thrust angle are measured in degrees while the centerline steering affects the thrust angle deviation when the car moves in a straight line.

Wheel Alignment Procedure

A very effective method of alignment procedure is the thrust line alignment. This process allows the technician to adjust the front wheels in relation to the rear wheels as close to zero as possible to achieve optimum wheel alignment. A total of four-wheel alignment corrects rear axle thrust angle which makes adjustments of the rear wheels. Effective wheel alignment always takes into consideration the vehicle ride height, the condition of the joints and wheel bearings as well as the tires. Worn out pivot joints, damaged suspension or altered suspension height will prevent proper functioning of wheel alignment.

Effective and well executed digital wheel alignment can positively improve fuel efficiency, tire performance, and maneuverability.

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