Wheel Alignment: What You Need to Know

Is your car’s steering wheel not pointing straight? Are your tires wearing unevenly? Does your car look like it’s part … Continued

Is your car’s steering wheel not pointing straight? Are your tires wearing unevenly? Does your car look like it’s part of the Stance Nation, even though you don’t self-identify as such? Well, we hate to break it to you, but your car’s wheel alignment is probably out of whack.

Wheel alignment is one of those forgettable maintenance measures that can suddenly become a big problem, even though it’s fairly cheap to fix. Here at Car Bibles HQ, we’ve seen our share of wheel alignment issues, so let us take you through what exactly a wheel alignment is, how it’s done, and the myriad of terms associated with it.

What is a Wheel Alignment?

A wheel alignment is a process that makes your car’s wheels accurately point in the exact same direction as your car’s steering wheel. This ensures safe and accurate steering, as well as directional changes.

How Is a Wheel Alignment Done?

A wheel alignment is completed by trained technicians who use precise measuring technology to adjust a car’s toe and camber in relation to the steering wheel.

What’s the Difference Between Toe, Camber, and Caster?

Get educated.

Toe

Toe refers to the angle a car’s wheels point inward or outward in relation to the side of a wheel well.

Camber

Camber refers to the angle a car’s wheels point inward or outward in relation to the top of a wheel well.

Caster

Caster refers to how the suspension is canted, with the options being forward, neutral, or backward.

Wheel Alignment: What You Need to Know

Faulty Alignment Symptoms, Causes, Issues

Here are just a few of the symptoms, causes, and issues that can arise from a faulty wheel alignment.

Improper Tire Wear

If your alignment is off, your tires can wear irregularly due to the uneven contact patch between the tire and the pavement.

Pulling Side-to-Side

As your alignment worsens, your steering could pull either to the left or the right depending on where the alignment is off.

Rocks, Potholes, Curbs

Hitting road debris such as rocks, dropping a wheel into a large pothole, or hitting a curb with some vigor can all negatively affect your car’s alignment.

Car Bible’s Glossary for Wheel Alignment

Welcome to Bible School!

Toe-In

The wheel is pulled inward, pointing toward the middle of the car’s grille.

Toe-Out

The wheel is pushed outward, pointing toward the outside of the car.

Negative Camber

The top of the wheel is pulled inward, pointing toward the middle of the car’s hood.

Positive Camber

The top of the wheel is pushed outward, pointing toward the pavement.

Negative Caster

The suspension is canted toward the front of the car.

Positive Caster

The suspension is canted toward the cabin of the car.

Your Questions, Our Answers on Wheel Alignment

Car Bibles answers your burning questions!

Q. How Long Can I Drive Without Alignment?

A. You can drive a car that’s out of alignment for quite some time, though we don’t recommend it. t’s unsafe, can lead to excessive or uneven tire wear, and could cause an accident due to the steering wheel not reflecting the tire direction.

Q. How Much Does Tire Alignment Cost?

A. Depending on the car, as well as if you get two or all four wheels aligned, you’ll be looking to pay between $50-$200.

Q. What Are Things To Check For Wheel Alignment?

A. Tire wear, improper tire wear, or a misaligned steering wheel are all signifiers of improper wheel alignment.

Video on Wheel Alignment

Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly how wheel alignment works. We pulled it from one of our most trusted sources and it’s a great additional resource.

Car Bible’s Favored Wheel Alignment Related Products

You can buy tire tools at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. Car Bibles’ editors grabbed a few from our archives, including a selection of Lug Wrenches, Tire Pressure Gauges, and Cordless Impact Wrenches to help you along with any wheel and tire job.

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Jonathon Klein

Jonathon KleinJonathon has jumped Aston Martins for Automobile Magazine, clocked 200 mph in a McLaren 720S for Playboy, and sampled his best life behind the wheel of a Ferrari Dino Evo for Road & Track. He’s hopelessly addicted to the strongest coffee he can brew. Please send him more. Contact the author here.