Ensuring Wheel Alignment

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Mark Potvin is a specialist in mechanical and electronic diagnostics. Photo Mark Potvin

Some of your customers take advantage of the warmer weather to take their vehicles out, and many of them would like their summer cars to run smoothly and trouble-free.

Just because these jewels don’t see winter doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cared for. On these vehicles, and all the others for that matter, wheel alignment is of the utmost importance, and is a regular maintenance requirement.

To be able to offer a professional service, you need to be up to date in your training in this area, especially when it comes to increasingly sophisticated steering systems, especially for electric cars.

The first component to work hardest on the road is, of course, the tire. Some tire models are directional and cannot be rotated to optimize their service life. That’s why it’s so important in all cases for everything to be properly aligned, in three ways.

Three factors to consider

The first, in our mechanic’s lingo, is to ensure that the camber is perfect. This is the inward or outward angle of the tire as seen from the front of the vehicle. Excessive inward or outward inclination, also known as negative or positive camber, indicates incorrect alignment and should be adjusted.

Worn bearings, ball joints and other wheel suspension parts can contribute to vehicle misalignment.

The second would be to see if the caster (hunting) is in harmony on both sides. Your caster angle helps balance the steering and gives you stability when cornering. More precisely, it’s the angle of your steering axis as seen from the side of your vehicle. If you have a positive caster, the steering axis will tilt towards the driver. On the other hand, a negative caster means that the steering axis tilts towards the front of your vehicle.

Finally, the toe, or alignment axle. Unlike camber alignment, axle alignment is the extent to which your tires turn inwards or outwards when viewed from above.

Modern equipment can even show customers the areas where premature wear can be caused by misalignment. Photo Mark Potvin

Like your feet

If this is confusing, stand up and look at your feet. Tilt them inwards, towards the centre of your body. When your car’s tires are angled in the same way (remember, we think in terms of bird’s-eye view), we call this toe-in toe-out alignment.

Tilt your feet outwards to align your toes. Both require adjustment. Make sure you or your team take the appropriate training to adjust the steering assembly. Believe me, your customers will see a big difference, both in terms of driving pleasure and in the level of tread wear on their tires.

Happy diagnosis!



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