Your car is important to you. You rely on it to take you where you need to go, and when something goes wrong with it, it can be very frustrating. 

One of the most common problems that people experience with their cars is poor alignment. Misaligned wheels can cause all sorts of problems, from decreased fuel efficiency to premature tire wear. 

The more you know, the smoother you’ll roll. Read on to find out how wheel alignment works and what you can do if your car needs an alignment service.

What is Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment is the process of making sure your car’s wheels are set to the correct position and angle. This is important because it helps your car move down the road in a straight line, without veering off to one side or the other.  

Front-End Alignment

As the name suggests, front-end alignment only involves the front two wheels of your car. This is the most common type of alignment because it’s the easiest to fix. 

Most front-end alignment problems are caused by hitting a pothole or curb. This can knock your car’s suspension out of alignment, which in turn will cause your wheels to be misaligned. 

If you notice that your car is pulling to one side or the other when you’re driving, it’s a good sign that you need front-end alignment. Other signs include uneven tire wear and the steering wheel being off-center when you’re driving straight. 

Four-Wheel Alignment

Four-wheel alignment is a more comprehensive alignment that includes all four wheels of your car. This type of alignment is usually done at the same time as a tire rotation. 

Most cars don’t need four-wheel alignment unless there’s something majorly wrong with the suspension. If your car was in a serious accident or you hit a large object, it’s possible that your car will need a four-wheel alignment.  

Thrust Alignment

Thrust alignment is a type of alignment that’s done on front-wheel drive cars. In a front-wheel drive car, the engine’s weight is over the front wheels, which can cause them to “thrust” forward. This can lead to problems with your car’s alignment. 

To fix this, a technician will adjust the rear wheels so that they’re pointing slightly inward. This helps to offset the weight of the engine and prevents the front wheels from thrusting forward. 

Most cars don’t need thrust alignment unless they’ve been in a serious accident or they’ve hit a large object. 

Signs You Need an Alignment Service

There are a few tell-tale signs that your car needs alignment. If you notice any of the following, it’s time to bring your car into the shop: 

  • Your car is pulling to one side or the other
  • The steering wheel is off-center when you’re driving straight
  • Uneven tire wear

If you’re not sure whether or not your car needs alignment, the best thing to do is bring it into a shop and have a technician take a look. They’ll be able to tell you for sure whether or not your car needs to be aligned and take care of it before bad alignment costs you more down the road.

What Happens During an Alignment Service?

Wheel alignment is a fairly simple process, but it’s best to leave it to the professionals. A technician will start by putting your car on a lift so they can get a good look at the suspension and wheels. 

They’ll then make a few adjustments to your car’s suspension. This includes adjusting the toe, camber, and caster:

  • The toe is the angle of your wheels in relation to each other. If your wheels are pointing inwards, it’s called toe-in. If they’re pointing outwards, it’s called toe-out. 
  • The camber is the angle of your wheel in relation to the ground. If your wheel is tilted inwards, it has negative camber. If it’s tilted outwards, it has positive camber. 
  • The caster is the angle of your wheel in relation to the ground. If your wheel is tilted forwards, it has a negative caster. If it’s tilted backward, it has a positive caster. 

After the technician has made the necessary adjustments, they’ll take your car for a test drive to make sure everything is working properly. 

Align Your Wheels in No Time

With Master Muffler West Valley Alignment Service

At Master Muffler West Valley, we offer alignment service to keep your car running as smoothly as possible and prolong its life. Our technicians are highly experienced and can help you get the most out of your car. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.