Caster, Camber and Toe…Oh My!Mar 3rd, 2020
This Wheel Alignment Stuff is Complicated...Let's Demystify it for You.
Three Main Adjustments
Wheel alignments are important. Performing a wheel alignment focuses on three adjustments for the positioning of the wheels in relation to the car chassis: the camber, the caster and the toe. Camber is the left and right tilt of the wheels as viewed from the front of the car. Caster refers to the frontward or backward tilt of the wheel pivot angle relative to the front axis and wheel rotation (see diagram). Toe is the degree to which the wheels face inward or outward as viewed from the top down.
If the wheels are out of spec in their camber, caster or toe, this could prove hazardous to the safe control and handling of the vehicle. This can put the driver or others nearby in harm's way. Steering is adversely affected by wheels that are not in proper alignment with one another in relation to the direction of travel. As well, the wheels, tires, steering and suspension components are subject to a higher degree of stress and increased wear.
Misaligned wheels can cause serious vehicle drifting requiring the driver to constantly compensate by correcting the steering wheel direction. Higher speeds increase the potential for overcorrection causing a loss of control. New tires will quickly degrade and experience a diminished usable lifespan, whereas older tires are more likely to completely give out. Continuing to operate a vehicle despite its need for an alignment is hazardous as well as financially costly as tires and suspension components wear more quickly.
Road conditions greatly affect wheel alignment. Each time you strike a pothole or get caught in a rut, extreme stress and mechanical forces are brought to bear on the suspension and wheels. These forces can knock things out of alignment. You may not notice it right away, unless something bends or breaks, as these changes usually happen slowly over time. Continual vibrations tend to loosen fasteners and cause threaded components, such as tie-rods, to “drift”, and ball joints and control arm bushings to develop more “play”. Rattles or clunking may develop and be noticeable when driving over road separations, railway crossings or a rough patch. As a vehicle owner, you should get to know your vehicle and be observant of these changes.
Protect Your Investment
Tires are expensive and you want them to last as long as possible. So, for most people, the two-year inspection interval is a good rule-of-thumb for preventative maintenance and to help protect your investment. If road conditions in your area are very bad, consider getting the alignment checked every year. If you’re purchasing new tires, an alignment inspection and check of your suspension components is absolutely essential. If your shop doesn’t recommend this, then you should find a new shop...they obviously don’t have your safety and best interest in mind – it is a matter of good stewardship.
You can trust our professional team here at the Auto Connection - Auto Care Service Centre. We are an SGI accredited full-service shop that can look after any of your repairs – big or small. Give our knowledgeable service advisors a call to discuss your needs. 306-373-8800 opt.2