Everything You Need to Know About Tire Alignments
Is your car pulling to one side or the other with reckless abandon? Or perhaps its steering wheel simply is not sitting straight anymore? If that’s the case, then your car may need a tire alignment. If you’d like to see if that service might help, here’s an in-depth look at everything you need to know about tire alignments in Kenner LA.
Importance of a Tire Alignment
Your car can only handle at its best if its wheels are in proper alignment. Unfortunately, this does not yet happen automatically when you put the tires on.
You need your Kenner LA auto technician to put the car on an alignment rack and bring everything into spec to get the perfect fit. Otherwise, your tires and suspension components could wear faster than ever before – and your car will fail to drive straight and true.
Key Adjustments to Your Car’s Alignment
When doing tire alignments, CAMS Automotive experienced auto technicians may look at these three key areas:
When adjusting toe, our techs angle the wheel in or out to create stability through the corners and straights. Turning the tires’ angle toward each other, called toe-in, helps keep them from turning outward too much at high speeds.
Doing the opposite and going with toe-out angle helps prevent them from pushing inward while cornering. The neutral setting, referred to as zero toe, aligns the tires so they are perfectly parallel to each other and the center longitudinal axis of the vehicle.
The camber adjustment gives our techs the ability to tilt the tops of wheels inward or outward to adjust the contact patch. Neutral camber puts the wheels straight up and down and in full contact with the road while going straight. While moving around corners, however, the neutral setting creates a smaller contact patch and less grip.
Most cars use a touch of negative camber, which angles the top of the wheels inward a few degrees. Other vehicles may need positive camber which moves the wheel angle in the opposite direction.
Caster works a little bit differently than toe and camber. For one, it’s only adjustable on the drive wheels of the vehicle in question. For two, it refers to the position of the suspension in relation to the tire.
At neutral, the strut or upper ball joint sits perfectly straight up and down at zero degrees. Positive caster angle moves the strut or ball joint angle forward a few degrees, while negative moves it back.
Adjusting the caster angle directly impacts the steering characteristics of the car. Most performance cars have positive caster since it helps improve stability at high speeds and improves handling around corners.
The adjustment types and specs needed for your vehicle depend on its year, make, and model. If you have an older Acura Integra, for example, techs can only directly adjust its toe setting unless you have aftermarket camber plates installed. When camber and caster are out, it’s likely that the suspension components are bent or otherwise damaged and in need of replacement.
When to Visit CAMS Automotive for a Tire Alignment
Wheels can end up out of alignment for many reasons, including:
- Collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects
- Impacts from potholes and other rough road surfaces
- Worn suspension components, including shocks and struts
- Suspension changes, including lift kits
You should also get an alignment done if you buy new tires. That way, you can protect your investment for the long term.
Don’t hesitate to come in if you notice any signs of poor tire alignment, such as:
- Tilted steering wheel while driving straight
- Mild to severe pull to the left or right
- Loud noises from the tires and steering wheel
- Rapid and/or uneven tire wear
If you suspect your vehicle needs an alignment, schedule a visit to our Kenner LA auto shop with a call to 504-461-9838 or fill out our online appointment request form. Our team at CAMS Automotive looks forward to putting your car’s wheel alignment back into spec, improving your handling and protecting your investment for the long term.