An Ultimate Guide to Wheel Alignment & Balancing

Wheel Alignment & Balancing

For all vehicles to deliver top-class performance, it is mandatory to check the wheel alignment and wheel balancing. If you want to know more about the tyre alignment of your car and their balancing, then keep reading on.

What does wheel alignment do?

By aligning the wheels of the car, it is ascertained that all four wheels are pointing in the same direction as they are supposed to be. When all four tyres of a car are aligned correctly, the vehicle will run on a straight and stable path. It will also ensure that the tyres undergo regular abrasion and the suspension system of the car remains intact for the longest period of time.

How is it like to drive a car with bad alignment?

To understand that the wheel alignment of your car is not proper, you can look for the following symptoms:

  • If any of inner or outer edges of the tread on the tyres get worn off very fast, you need to check their alignment. Also be very cautious while driving if you feel that the wear and tear are too prominent.
  • If your car tends to drag more and you have to struggle to keep it moving in a straight line, the alignment is definitely incorrect
  • If car riding is peculiarly bumpy at high speeds on a fairly smooth road, then you must take a hint from it. Although normal driving might not reveal much, you will find difficulty while steering your car, if the tyre alignment is not proper.

How often should you check the wheel alignment?

Automobile experts say that the alignment of car wheels must be checked at regular intervals of time. Usually with every car servicing, checking the balance of wheels and their alignment is also carried out. But the tyre alignment must be checked at least once a year for sure.

What is a front end alignment?

By front end tyre alignment, mechanics refer to the angle correction that is needed for the front wheels of your car. There are 3 major aspects that are checked as part of the front-end alignment.

  1. Camber – This refers to the outward or inward tyre angles when your car is viewed from the front side. Excess tilt angles or camber indicates bad alignment and can be caused by worn out wheel-suspension components, ball joints, and bearings.
  2. Toe – This is the measurement of how much the wheels turn inward or outward when viewed from above. It can be either a toe-in or toe-out alignment, and both must be rectified.
  3. Caster – This is the angle of the steering axis as viewed from the side of your car. Caster angle can be either positive (steering axis tilts towards the driver) or negative (tilts away)

What is the wheel alignment procedure?

  1. Find out the actual alignment specifications that depend on the make, year, model and design of the car. This data is the reference to the correct the improper wheel alignment.
  2. Drive the car onto the tyre alignment rack, lock the steering wheel into the straight drive position
  3. Then raise the car on the alignment rack. You will be able to check the tyre conditions better from underneath.
  4. Check the tyre pressure and adjust it if necessary
  5. Depending on the caster, camber and toe angles readings obtained from the car alignment equipment, work on the rear alignment first
  6. While adjusting the front-end alignment, the caster and camber must be corrected first
  7. Then adjust the toe angle
  8. Remove the lock from the steering wheel and turn it back and forth to adjust the new alignment
  9. Recheck the tyre alignment once more by locking the steering wheel
  10. Remove the alignment heads and lower the car on the rack
  11. Take a test drive to ensure proper alignment of the tyres

How much does it cost to get an alignment?

You can get wheel balancing and alignment done from any tyre shop, who will charge you anything around INR 300 to 400 for the hatchbacks. However, these charges depend largely on the size and type of car. So for SUVs and trucks, it should be somewhere in the range of 800 – 1000 bucks.

Are wheel alignment and balancing the same?

Wheel balancing is essentially different from aligning, although the purpose of both is to ensure proper maintenance of the tyres and boost longevity. While tyre alignment ensures that all four wheels are straight and point in the correct direction, balancing takes care to remove weight imbalances in the wheels. Maintaining the correct alignment and balance in the wheels is essential for a safe and secure ride.

What is wheel balancing?

Wheel balancing is basically the process to ensure that the weight balance is correct for all four tyre combinations of a car. Wheels are balanced by adding small counterweights which compensate for the imbalance that is there. Improper balancing will cause the steering wheel to vibrate or “shimmy” and your car will start wobbling, leading to damage of the car suspension and wheels. Very often wheel balancing is carried out along with their alignment. Balancing is either done on a single plane (static) or dual plane (dynamic).

What causes your car to need an alignment?

There are various reasons which can cause your car to go out of its proper alignment. If the car happens to encounter an accident by hitting against something causing a deep impact on the suspension, it will cause uneven and heavy strain on the tyres. Or if it suddenly bumps into a curb or hits a pothole, then also the wheel alignment can go for a toss. With the passage of time, the suspension springs grow slack under strain, which ultimately results in bad alignment.

What happens when you don’t get an alignment?

Tyre alignment and balancing are extremely important tasks. When you don’t get the car wheels aligned properly, it builds up unequal tyre pressure. One tyre tends to push against the other causing much strain and unequal friction. As a result, the wheels suffer greater road surface resistance which ultimately wears them down on one side. Improper wheel balancing and alignment can make a vehicle more prone to accidents. These tasks are therefore of utmost importance to ensure safety along with the longevity of the wheels.

Is an alignment necessary with new tires?

It is always recommended to check the wheel alignment for new ones, even though it is not mandatory. Moreover, if you wish to avail the warranty of the new tyres, then it will be wise to check the wheel balancing and alignment from an experienced mechanic.

Conclusion

If driving is your passion, then just cleaning and tending to your car will not be enough. You must also ensure that the tyre alignment and wheel balancing is proper. Only then can you truly enjoy a safe and exhilarating driving experience.

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