Despite the name, tire and wheel alignments are not actually repairs to the wheel or tires themselves, but rather your car’s suspension—the system of springs, ball joints and shocks connecting the tire and wheel assemblies to the body of your vehicle.
The suspension controls the way your tires make contact with the road and, in turn, how the steering wheel controls the tires. And although a wheel alignment service is a type of suspension maintenance, the only way to easily spot a problem with your alignment is by looking at the tire and steering wheel.
During a routine front end alignment, the experienced technicians at Telle Tire & Auto Centers & KC Complete will use a top-of-the-line computerized alignment system to look for three things: camber, toe and caster.
- Positive and negative camber
Camber refers to the vertical tilt of your tires as viewed from the front or back of your car. Your tires can be tilted outward, away from your vehicle—called ”positive camber”—or inward, toward the center of your vehicle—called ”negative camber.” Vertical tilt, even by a fraction of a degree, can cause your tires to wear unevenly. For example, the outside of your tire might be barely worn, but the inside is worn
- Toe-in and toe-out
Walk with your toes pointed in and look down. That’s what, from a bird’s eye view, tires with a toe-in alignment look like. Tires angled toward or away from each other—referred to as toe-in and toe-out respectively—will wear your treads unevenly and prematurely.
- Positive and negative caster
Caster refers to the tilt of the steering axis as viewed from the side of your car. If the axis at the top of the tire points toward the back of your car, it is called positive caster. Negative caster is when the axis leans toward the front of your car.Caster, when in proper alignment, ensures that your car stays straight when you take your hands off the wheel. It also is why your wheel returns to the straight position after a turn. If you have to turn your wheel to the right or left in order to drive straight, it is likely that your caster is out of alignment.