Brown's Alignment Auto Repair

Wheel Alignment Common Questions

browns alignment brake and auto repair front end  wheel alignment damage

Oh-No! Not the curb again. Better call Brown’s Alignment.

A Wheel alignment is or at least should be part of standard auto repair maintenance. Aligning a car consists of adjusting
the angles of the wheels so that they are set to the car manufacturers specifications. The purpose of these adjustments is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle drives straight without “pulling” to one side.                           Click here to go to our common alignment misconceptions page.

 How do I know you need a wheel alignment?

  • Watch for uneven tire wear.  Look for inside or outside edge wear or uneven patterns such as feathering or cupping. See our Tire Wear page for photos and full descriptions of types of tire wear.
  • Your  vehicle drifts or pulls to one side or the other while driving. Keep in mind most roads are sloped or crowned to allow for better water run off. Your car will tend to drift down hill so in this case it is the road not your alignment. If you want to test your vehicles alignment find a three lane straight road. Drive down the center lane, it is usually the most level lane.
  • Your steering wheel is not centered. In this case you are driving straight and the car is going straight but the steering wheel is off center.
  • NOTE: A driving vibration is NOT a wheel alignment problem. An alignment can not create or fix a vibration.

How did my wheel alignment get off?

  • You can physically knock your alignment out by hitting something like a curb or pothole.
  • If you run over something in the street like a log or brick you could knock your wheel alignment out.
  • Normal driving wear and tear will cause your wheel alignment to be off. Over a long period of time the components of your suspension wear and begin to sag. As this happens the wheel alignment slowly moves out of its acceptable range.

How does Brown’s Alignment correct my wheel alignment?

**NOTE: Brown’s Alignment starts every wheel alignment with a suspension inspection to look for loose, worn or damaged components. If there are any obviously worn or damaged suspension parts they should be replaced before a wheel alignment is performed. Worn and or damaged parts will adversely affect the accuracy of the alignment.  If there are no obvious problems we continue on with the wheel alignment. The next step is to set the vehicle up on the wheel alignment machine and get readings on where each wheel is positioned.  If the alignemtn is not “out”  we are done and you are only charged for checking the alignment.

When your wheel alignment has become “out” three things can result.

1. The  Wheel alignment is not off that bad and it can be corrected with the built in angle adjustments during a standard alignment. The alignment angle adjustments are called toe, camber and caster. Not all of these are adjustable on all vehicles.

2. There is not enough adjustment or there is not a built in adjustment to correct the problem. In this cause many cars and light trucks have had aftermarket kits designed for them. Aftermarket kits refer to a new kit designed by a company other then the original manufacturer of the car.  These kits can be added to a car to make a certain alignment angle adjustable.  On vehicles that have a built in adjustment a kit may still be added to give the technician extra adjustment so the angle can be adjusted to manufacturer specifications.

3. The third scenario occurs when the alignment is too far out of it’s required range to be adjusted by either of the first two methods.  This is an indication of bent or twisted suspension parts. Keep in mind when a wheel alignment is performed the technician is usually making the adjustments in small increments. Usually less then a couple of degrees and many times in fractions of degrees. So, it is often very difficult to be able to visually identify a bent suspension part. At this point the technician has to make an educated guess as to what to replace.

See our Alignment page for specific information on types of wheel alignments and the angles that are adjusted.

How will raising or lowering my car or truck affect my wheel alignment?

The ride height of a car is taken into consideration when the car and the wheel alignment specifications are designed.  When we align your vehicle all we have to go by is the manufacture’s specs. We have no way to know if the alignment specs will continue to be accurate with the vehicle sitting at a different ride height. All we can do is align the vehicle to these specs and see what happens as far as tire wear. If the tires do not wear properly you can return and we can now do a custom alignment based on the first alignment and how the tires wore.  From our experience trucks with over a 3 inch lift usually need a custom alignment in addition to the first alignment. Lowered cars that we were able to align seem to fair ok as far as tire wear. The problem we have with lowered cars is that many of them are too low to get onto the alignment machine and can not be aligned at all.

LINKS:

Alignment page General description of what an alignment is what we adjust.

Alignment misconceptions page

Hunter Alignment equipment website