Staying aligned, staying aligned

Staying aligned, staying aligned

Four-wheel alignment is the topic for this month’s column. The clue is in the name, but, to clarify, the point of this process is to ensure all four wheels are correctly aligned.

If your car has perfectly aligned wheels, it will benefit from straight-line stability, enhanced steering performance, better fuel efficiency, and improved life expectancy of tyres by up to 12,000 miles.

Why might I need it?

Your wheels could be misaligned for many reasons - if you’ve hit a nasty pothole or a curb, for example. Here are a couple of common signs to look out for:

Unevenly worn tyres

Check if you have worn the outside tread of your tyre more than the inside or vice versa, as this can point to misalignment.

Steering pulling off to one side

It should be evident if your car pulls one way or the other. If you’re unsure, you can test this by setting the steering wheel straight while driving and seeing if the car steers in one direction.

We recommend speaking to your garage if you’re experiencing any of the above.

WEB tyre

How does it work?

During a four-wheel alignment adjustment, the mechanic analyses three different settings - the caster, toe and camber. Manipulating the caster will correct your vehicle’s steering wheel self centering ability. Or, in layman’s terms, ensure that your steering is able to reset itself. Have you ever noticed how the car shifts back to driving straight on its own after turning round a corner? That’s because the caster is correctly aligned.

Toe relates to the space between the front and the back of each tyre. Toe-in means the front of the tyres are closer to each other than the rear of the same tyres. Toe-out - you guessed it - means the opposite.

Camber focuses on the angle your tyres are sitting at and measures the degree of tyre tilt. A positive camber is when the top of the wheel leans out from the centre. A negative camber is when the wheel is leaning into the centre.

This process requires a four-wheel alignment machine that shows the technician the necessary adjustments. It also enables the mechanic to create before and after-style images so you can see the difference in alignment.

Four-wheel alignment isn’t generally something that a mechanic would advise on your service report or that you should get done regularly. Nevertheless, it is still worth being aware of it in case this is a service you need in the future.

Head to for more about alignment.

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