Automotive Repair Center - Auto Service Shop Fort Collins, CO | Scott's Fort Collins Auto


Alignment Frequently Asked Questions

What cause a vehicle’s aligment to change?

Accurate wheel alignment does not last the life of your car. In fact you could leave our facility today and an innocent hit to a curb or unavoidable pothole can cause a sudden and sometimes dramatic change in alignment. Regardless of this type of impact, wheel alignment is always changing, a considerable shift in the alignment can occur in only eighteen months, but because these changes are small and occur slowly over time it’s easy for certain handling problems and tire wear conditions to become firmly established.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening. Joints and bushings in the suspension system wear gradually which makes it more difficult to hold the alignment in place. Camber and caster both begin to change. The same thing happens with the steering system, normal wear and tear takes its toll and toe begins to change. And let’s not forget about the rear of the car. The same slow decay is occurring there as well. The springs are wearing out too and as the springs give way, so goes the alignment. Even though this type of wear is very slow, eventually certain parts may require replacement before the alignment can be done.

Rapid changes in alignment are usually caused by impact or collision damage. The type of impact that will bend or move parts. For example a control arm, a tie rod assembly or even a shift in the position of the suspension in the chassis, of course damaged parts will require replacement. The alignment condition of your car is always changing and because these changes are small and occur slowly over time, it’s easy for handling problems and tire wear conditions to become firmly established. If you’re currently experiencing any of these symptoms get your alignment checked immediately. Otherwise to prevent these problems from occurring get your alignment checked at regular intervals. Check with our service department to see which plan is best for your car.

What is bumpsteer?

Bumpsteer, a condition that allows road irregularities to steer the vehicle, is normally caused by misalignment of the steering system. For example, on parallelogram linkage, the centerlink may not be level. On a rack and pinion system, the rack housing may not be level.

To accurately detect bumpsteer, a series of measurements need to be taken. Contact Scott’s today for your free alignment check.

What causes my vehicle to pull right or left?

Large side to side differences in front camber can cause unwanted steering forces which may lead to a pull.  When camber is zero, no steering forces are generated from either side.  Each wheel should tend to roll straight ahead.  But when one wheel is cambered, for example positive on the right side, it immediately begins rolling to the right.  Combine this with the left wheel cambered negative, now both wheels want to roll to the right, generating even greater steering force.

If you notice your vehicle pulling right or left, contact Scott’s for your FREE alignment check today (970) 682-4202.

What causes, and how do I fix steering wheel vibration or shimmy.

Vibration and all shimmy at the steering wheel may be commonly traced to wheel or tire conditions.  When diagnosing wheel vibrations we begin by inspecting the condition of the tires looking for excessively warn tread, irregular wear patterns and structural problems. We measure and then adjust air pressure to specifications. We check for abnormal looseness at the wheel bearings,  excessive runout at the rim or tire. We remove the front wheels and then inspect the lug nuts and studs. As well as check the inner mounting surface of the rims and meeting surfaces at the hubs. We also perform an alignment check as part of our diagnosis.

If you are experiencing a vibration in your steering wheel, contact Scott’s today!


What is turning angle or toe-out on turns?

Turning angle also referred to as toe-out on turns, describes the difference in side to side steer angles of the front wheels as the vehicle turns.  Created by the angle of the steering arms, turning angle allows the outside wheel on a turn to steer at a lesser angle than the inner wheel.  This is necessary because the outer wheel has to travel a larger radius, otherwise the tires may scuff when the vehicle turns.  If a steering arm is bent turning angle will change.  Large turning angle errors may lead to irregular shoulder wear on the front tires.

What is camber?

Camber is defined as the inward or outward tilt of the wheel at the top as viewed from the front.  Camber is measured in degrees; a wheel with zero degrees camber is vertical.  A wheel that tilts outward at the top has positive camber.  A wheel that tilts inward at the top has negative camber. The proper camber settings on a vehicle will improve road isolation and directional stability.  Incorrect camber angles can cause tire wear and handling problems.

What is caster?

Caster is defined as the forward or rearward tilt of the steering axis as compared to a vertical line and viewed from the side.  Caster is measured in degrees, caster is positive when the top of the steering axis is tilted rearward.  Caster is negative when the top of the steering axis is tilted forward. The primary functions of caster are to improve directional stability and returnability.

What causes a crooked steering wheel?

A crooked steering wheel normally occurs gradually as the alignment condition of the vehicle shifts over time.  This is an excellent visual indicator of mis-alignment. Contact Scott’s today for your free alignment check. (970) 682-4202


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