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Wheel Alignment

Welcome to our Simon Rawdon Tyres information page about wheel alignment/tracking. 

Below, we want to tell you a bit more about wheel alignment.  

What it is for and why it is important to get your vehicle's alignment checked from time to time. In our garage in Horncastle, we use only the latest technology of one of the best, computerised  4-wheel alignment systems - the Supertracker 420 RW. If after reading our information page you have any questions or would like to book your vehicle in for an alignment check, please give us a call. We will be happy to offer you an appointment that suits you. 

Wheel alignment explained: 

Unless you are an experienced mechanic with excellent knowledge in the field of alignment/tracking and have the appropriate technology and the right tools, it is advisable not ever to try to modify geometry calibrations on your vehicle yourself! 

Each vehicle requires an optimum configuration of the wheel alignment, to make sure all four wheels are corresponding correctly with each other and get the optimal contact with the road surface. 

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The direction a wheel is oriented on your car depends on three main components; camber, caster, and toe - all containing measurements and data which only tyre and vehicle experts can work on because every tenth of a millimetre counts. 

The geometric arrangement is to control and adjust the alignment of the four wheels.  

A poor wheel alignment can have a significant impact on the life of a tyre and cause additional costs and steering wheel problems. so in the end, it can cause serious safety issues as well. Before talking about the technical details it is important to list some questions about the geometric design. 

Is the 4-wheel alignment is a routine procedure like an oil change? 

No, the wheel alignment is a special procedure, which must only be carried out if one of the following factors has to be considered: 

1. The vehicle slides to the left or right on an actual straight line. 

2. The tyre wear is irregular. 

3. The steering wheel is not in the axle. 

4. The tyres slip without obvious reasons 

Do I have to check the alignment every time I change tyres? 

In general, it is not imperative to do this type of control if you only change one tyre and if you maintain the same tyre dimensions as before. A change in the tyre size must involve a geometric pattern control. Also when you go for a seasonal tyre change and have new tyres fitted, you should at least get your vehicle's alignment checked. 

It is also a good idea to get a wheel alignment check done after hitting a curb, pot hole etc.  

What exactly does wheel alignment mean? 

Wheel alignment is the control and recording of the following geometric angles: angle of incidence, the angle of the bell and the convergence angle (parallelism). 

Each car has precisely defined dimensions, but some enthusiasts love making changes to adjust the behaviour of their vehicles. The alignment setting is millimetre work and has to be performed by experts with a specific wheel alignment machine. 

We at the Simon Rawdon Tyres in Horncastle only work with the very latest and one of the most advanced wheel alignment systems - the Supertracker 420 RW system. 

Camber 

The most discussed and controversial of the three elements mentioned above is the so called Camber. It is the measurement (in degrees) of the difference between the wheels vertical alignment perpendicularly to the surface. A perfectly perpendicular wheel would have a fall of  0 degrees.  

The Camber is described as negative when the tip of the tyres begins to tilt inwardly towards the fender shafts. As a result, when the tip of the tyres starts to bend from the vehicle, it is considered positive. 

Negative fall becomes increasingly popular because of its visual appeal. The real advantages of the negative buckle are seen in the handling characteristics. An aggressive rider will enjoy the benefits of an increased grip on strong cornering with a negative crash. During straight acceleration, however, the negative support will reduce the contact area between the tires and the road surface. 

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Unfortunately, the negative fall produces what is called "dive thrust". If both tyres stand at a negative angle, they press against each other, which is ok as long as both tyres have ground contact with the road surface. When a tyre loses grip, the other tyre is missing then opposing force, meaning the vehicle is pushed onto the wheel without much tension. 

Zero Camber means more even tyre wear over time but can detract optimal performance during turns. in the end, the perfect curvature depends on your personal driving style and the vehicle over all condition.  

The Caster  

Also measured in degrees is the angle which expresses the difference between a straight line perpendicular to the ground and the axis of the wheel turning pin. 

The Caster is positive if the angle tilts forward, and negative when backwards. 

A positive caster makes a car more stable at higher speeds and in bends. In general, the steering becomes more manageable. 

Many vehicles have been aligned to be so called "cross-casters". That means that the caster- and camber angles are slightly different, so the vehicle drifts slightly to the right. This kind of cross-caster alignment is being done by many manufacturers for safety reasons. So if you as a driver lose control over the steering or the car rolls off without you sitting in it, the car would more likely drift toward the side of the road and not directly into the oncoming traffic. 

Toe 

The so called toe angle means the direction the tyres are pointing towards - inwards or outwards (when looking at them from above). It's like looking down on your feet and see which way the toes are pointing. 

Having the correct toe angle is very important for your tyres as it ensures even tyre wear. With the wrong toe angle, your tyres will be worn faster and unevenly. 

It does not matter if your vehicle is equipped with the latest generation of premium tyres with a maximum lifespan. A poor adjustment, even only a few millimetres, will affect the durability of the most prestigious tyres. 

A positive toe = both tyres "face" each other. The wheels constantly toe and generate force against each other, and the turning ability is reduced. The positive toe makes driving straight much easier though. 

Rear wheel drive vehicles normally have a slightly positive rear tow because of the rolling resistance – the suspension arms look slightly outwards.  

You can find a negative toe in many front wheel drive vehicles.Here the suspension arms look slightly inwards. 

So, a negative toe increases a vehicle's cornering ability. When turning inwards towards corners, the inner wheels angle will be turned a bit more aggressively. The turning radius will be smaller than on the inner wheel so it will basically pull the vehicle in that direction. 

A negative toe decreases the straight line stability. A slight direction change will result in the car going towards one direction. 

So here is what our Simon Rawdon Tyres experts think about the correct wheel alignment:   

There are surely many good reasons why vehicle manufacturers put their vehicles in a specific alignment angle.Before a new vehicle enters the market, they are subject to a lot of research and development. Designing the components for a vehicle's suspension is surely not an easy task, but the vehicle manufacturer's experts surely know what to do.  In the case of cars, it's not always that good to be different from the norm as it could result in dangerous conditions. 

If you are into vehicle tuning, you surely want to do something different, and the norm is not for you. But please take our advice and make sure to be careful when modifying your suspension. You should always take expert advice before attempting any major modifications.  

Of course, your safety stands on first place, but also keep in mind that changing camber, caster and toe for the sake of performance and look can also have a direct negative effect on the economy of the vehicle. 

We hope you found this text helpful. 

Your Simon Rawdon Tyres team