Wheel Alignment Basics - AutoSuccessOnline

Wheel Alignment Basics

As Americans gravitate to more SUVs with larger tires, proper alignment is of increasing importance as a way for your customers to maximize their investment.

Wheel alignment is not only critical in maintaining a tire’s longevity, but it’s also an integral part of driving safety. As Americans gravitate to more SUVs with larger and more expensive tires, proper alignment is of increasing importance as a way for your customers to maximize their investment. 

Because wheel alignment is such an important part of tire service, technicians should take a look at the tires and alignment anytime a vehicle is up on the lift for service. This will not only help you identify any problem areas, but it will also send the message to your customer that you’re monitoring the tires and undercar health of their vehicle. 

While a variety of alignment technology exists today, a technician will save time and get accurate alignment angle measurements with the quick-measure feature on an aligner. This feature helps spot alignment angle problems quickly so that technicians can correct them and drivers can be on their way. 

A good understanding of a vehicle’s alignment starts with the angles. Let’s do a quick review:
• Thrust angle is the rear axle’s relationship to the centerline of the vehicle. Thrust angle that’s out of adjustment can cause a crooked steering wheel as well as a dog-tracking condition. On a solid rear-axle vehicle such as a truck, this can usually be seen as a bent frame. For vehicles with independent rear suspensions, an out-of-alignment thrust angle can be caused by toe settings being off in opposite directions.
• Camber is the angle of the top of the tires when looking from the front. Camber can be adjusted at the top of the strut for front wheels or with a special kit for the rear wheels.
• Caster is the tilt of the steering axis, either tilted forward (negative) or back (positive).
• Toe is the angle most people are familiar with and is most visible to customers. It can be seen as the tires pointed inward (toe in) or outward (toe out) when viewed from the top.

When adjusting a vehicle’s alignment, technicians should always use a level alignment rack that is set on locks. The alignment rack should have the capacity to lift the vehicle that needs an alignment. 

Technicians should also take their time when setting up the machine and pay attention to the proper alignment process such as setting tire pressure, unpinning turn plates and adjusting all angles in the correct order.

Service professionals should be thorough when conducting an initial test drive and inspecting the vehicle. A good shakedown of a vehicle to identify worn or damaged parts or tire wear can go a long way in ensuring the job is done right the first time.

You May Also Like

Servicing EV Tires

While wheel and tire maintenance is important for any vehicle, it’s critical for EVs.

Communicate with Your Customers & Convert Challenges into Opportunities

ardly a week goes by without hearing about the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Almost as frequent are explanations why this may not happen as quickly as predicted.

Regardless, with manufacturers pouring literally trillions of dollars into EV development, you can be sure they’re coming, at some point, in some quantity. It’s time to start learning about EV tires.

Why Is My Check Engine Light On?

One of the toughest components to sell as a maintenance item, or even a replacement item, is an oxygen sensor.

Keeping Cars Clean & Sanitized During Cold & Flu Season

Providing that certified, clean feel to customers’ vehicles is sure to make weekly carpools and commutes more enjoyable.

Tackling Inventory Issues with Recon Technology

Inventory issues make recon more important than ever. Learn how Florence Toyota has succeeded with its new recon partnership.

Wheel Bearing Analysis: What Creates Noise, Endplay?

Wheel bearings support massive amounts of a vehicle’s weight for the relatively small size of their surfaces.

Other Posts

Remembering Distributors

Selling distributor components can mean big profit, and the key to it is understanding the distributor.

Successful Outbound Call Tips for Service

Learn how dealership service and internet managers can optimize outbound calling to bolster results, improve CSI.

An Unlimited Source for Pre-Owned Inventory: The Service Drive

Why are used vehicles in higher demand than other pre-owned vehicles in the market?

An Unlimited Source for Pre-Owned Inventory: The Service Drive
Throttle-By-Wire Diagnostics

Throttle-by-wire systems proactively manage the air and fuel going into the combustion chamber.