Many people think alignments are just a mechanic adjusting the wheels. In a way, the mechanic is, but he is actually adjusting the suspension and steering, which connects the wheels to the vehicle. If you don’t keep the wheels aligned, you can run into all kinds of problems, including issues with steering.

How to Tell When the Alignment Is Off

You can look for three things to tell if your vehicle needs an alignment. Your vehicle might have all three problems, or just one or two of the problems.

  • While driving down a straight road, your vehicle’s tires should be straight. Glance at your steering wheel. Is the logo straight up and down? If you center the steering wheel, but the vehicle doesn’t go straight, you might need an alignment.
  • When you loosen your grip on the steering wheel on a flat, straight road and the vehicle pulls to one side or the other, you could have a problem with the alignment.
  • If the tires are wearing unevenly, it could be a sign of alignment problems; however, tire wear also tells you that you have issues with the tires. If the wear is on one side of the tire, it might be an alignment issue. If only the center of the tire is worn, you have too much air in the tires. If both outside edges of the tire are worn evenly, the tire pressure is too low.
Tire Alignment Sun City Tire & Auto in Surprise Az. silver sedan up on lift in shop hooked up to alignment machine; tire alignments

In some cases, the problem could be a combination of alignment and a suspension issue, and in some cases, the problem could be with only the suspension. An auto technician can’t properly align your vehicle if it has a problem with the suspension.

The Three Alignment Positions

When your vehicle is out of align, the camber, caster or toe could be off.

  • If you squat down in front of the vehicle and look at your tires, they should be straight up and down. If the top of the tire leans toward the passenger side of the vehicle, the positive camber needs adjusting. If the top of the tire leans toward the driver’s side of the vehicle, the negative camber is off. Your mechanic will also check for worn ball joints, bearings, and other suspension parts that could cause positive or negative camber.
  • If the entire tire points inward or outward, the toe is off. To picture this, look down at your feet. Point both feet toward the center of your body. That is toe-in alignment. Now point your feet away from your body – on to the left and one to the right. That is toe-out alignment.
  • The final check is for caster. This tire angle affects cornering, steering and stability. If you look at your vehicle’s tires from the side, they should be centered on the axis. If the angle is tilted toward the rear of the vehicle, you have positive caster. If the angle is tilted toward the front of the vehicle, you have negative caster. Both need to be adjusted.

Contact Sun City Tire & Auto

If you notice your tires are wearing unevenly or your vehicle pulls to one side when it shouldn’t, come see us at our shop located at 11541 West Bell Rd, Unit 101, Surprise, AZ 85378. Contact Sun City Tire & Auto to make an appointment to have your vehicle alignment checked, and if needed, aligned.