How to Notice Misalignment in Your Car | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

How to Notice Misalignment in Your Car

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Wheel alignment errors typically cause three basic problems in your car: irregular tire wear, handling problems, and a crooked steering wheel. If your car has been pulling or your tires have excessive shoulder wear, your car is most likely out of alignment. Here’s what you need to know about misalignment and what it could do to your car.

Causes of Misalignment

When you first get your car, you don’t notice any issues with the alignment typically. However, after a while, the alignment will begin to shift due to various factors or incidents. To explain, you could leave the parking lot and accidentally hit a curb or drive over an unavoidable pothole which is enough to cause a shift in alignment — no matter how the impact was.

Wheel alignment is constantly changing. In fact, a considerable shift in alignment can occur in under two years. However, because these changes happen slowly and are usually small, it’s easy for these problems to buildup and become well established overtime.

Having a car become misaligned is a common result of just driving each and every day. However, the term ‘alignment’ doesn’t refer to your car’s wheels, rather to the suspension. When you drive each day, parts of your car’s suspension may become worn and springs can be stretched out. An alignment restores angles to their correct measurements, which ensures your wheels sit straight.

Why Misalignment Happens

So, why do these shifts happen? 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.

Indicators of Misalignment

Wheel alignment errors can cause three basic problems on your car:

1.Irregular tire wear

2.Handling problems

3.Crooked steering wheel

A common indicator of misalignment is excessive shoulder wear on a tire. This type of irregular wear is often caused by errors in camber or toe. Camber, which is inward or outward tilt of the wheel, can cause outside shoulder wear if the wheel is tilted too far out. If the wheel is tilted too far in board, the inside shoulder will wear. This problem can occur at the front or rear. Toe errors will also cause shoulder wear, in fact very rapid wear. If the wheels are pointed to far in board, the outside of the tread will wear first. Rapid inside wear will occur if the wheels are pointed too far out.

A pull problem is another result of misalignment. An alignment pull can be caused by side-to-side errors in camber or side to side errors in caster. For example, if the front wheels are both tilted to the left, this can cause the car to always want to steer to the left. Alternatively, when the front wheels are both tilted to the right, the car will tend to want to steer right all the time.

Another way to feel a pull is when errors happen within caster. Caster, which is the front to rear tilt of the steering axis should be the same on each side. To explain, if the right side is positive and the left side is negative, the front wheels will try to steer the car to the left all the time.

Misalignment will also cause a crooked steering wheel. If the car is properly aligned the steering wheel will be straight, but errors in front toe or errors in rear toe will cause the steering wheel position to change. So if you see a shift in the position of your steering wheel, unusual tire wear or if your car is pulling, your car is out of alignment.

Benefits of Wheel Alignments

When you have your car aligned, it has a few different benefits, like:

  • Increasing tire life
  • Maintaining the handling of your vehicle
  • Find small issues beginning with the steering, suspension, and wheels before they become costly repairs

Call Scott’s Auto

You can depend on Scott’s Auto for all of your alignment and tire needs. We are dedicated to working with our customers from the Fort Collins and Loveland areas, helping them keep their cars in the best shape possible. Simply drop on by one of our two locations or call and let us know you’re on your way.

Fort Collins – (970)-682-4204

Loveland – (970)-541-4404

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