Wheel alignments: What they are and why they’re important
Driving without a proper wheel alignment not only costs money—it costs the safety of you and your passengers. Your gas mileage and tire life will decrease while the likelihood of tire blow-outs and accidents due to poor tire traction will increase.
You should get your car alignment checked at least once per year, after an accident or when you clip a curb to ensure the longevity of your tires.
When it’s time for a wheel alignment, Telle Tire & Auto Centers and KC Complete Auto Service can help. For more than 75 years and four generations, the Telle family has understood the importance of providing strong value through quality products and services. Our ASE-certified technicians provide trusted excellence built on generations of long-term relationships and proven excellence.
See what our past clients have to say, or come in and see for yourself. From basic maintenance to comprehensive diagnostics and full engine repair, Telle Tire & Auto Centers are your one-stop-shop with you every mile of the way.
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So, what exactly is a tire alignment?
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 your wheels 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 an alignment 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.
How do I know I need a tire alignment?
Since tires are often only off-center by a few degrees, it can be difficult to know when, exactly, it is time to check your alignment. Your best bet is to bring in your car least every year or 6,000 miles.
You might, however, need to bring it in sooner if you notice these warning signs:
- Uneven tread wear
If your tires are wearing unevenly—perhaps they’re completely worn out on the inside of the tire, but like-new on the outside—it’s a sign your tires are laying irregularly against the ground.Here is a helpful video on how to check for tread wear on your tires.
- Wheel vibrations
A shaking steering wheel is a sign that your car is off-balance. We will diagnose the cause of your misalignment and get you back on the road in no time.
- You have to turn your wheel to go straight
The angle of your steering wheel should correspond to the direction your vehicle is going. If you have to turn slightly to the right or left in order to go straight, it is highly likely that you have either an alignment or tire issue.
Think your alignment is off? Schedule an appointment today
The Telle Difference: Car alignments done right and done your way
At Telle Tire & Auto Centers, we’ve been serving the automotive repair needs of the St. Louis and Kansas City communties for over 75 years. Our work is done right the first time, and will protect you against what lies on the road ahead. We’ll pick you up wherever you are with a shuttle or loaner—for free—and provide you refreshments while you wait. That’s the Telle Difference.
Trust your car with the automotive repair technicians that go the extra mile.