It appears that front-end alignments are one of those tasks that are postponed until it’s either too late and the tires are badly worn, or you’re weary of your vehicle veering all over the road. Not only does driving your hot rod straight from the start assure optimum handling, but it also gives your tires an even wear pattern and extends their lifespan. Whenever you install new front suspension components, you should check the frontend alignment. Let’s examine some of the most common symptoms of a poorly aligned frontend, as well as some definitions of alignments.
Front Wheel Alignment Basics
Typical alignment-related concerns
A Pull – You will typically notice this when you let off of the steering wheel while driving and the vehicle “pulls” left or right. A damaged belt inside the tire or improper tread wear might exacerbate or even cause this problem.
If you suspect you have a defective tire and your vehicle has non-directional tires, you can switch the front driver side tire to the passenger side. If the vehicle’s direction of pull changes, you know the problem lies within the tire.
A Drift – A lead or drift is a slight pull that does not cause the steering wheel to alter its position. Typically, the driver must correct the vehicle’s left or right drift. This issue can also be caused by the road’s crown, which should always be taken into account while adjusting the front end.
Steering Wheel Misalignment – You might not sense a pull or adrift since the vehicle travels straight, but the steering wheel is misaligned to the left or the right. This is typically the result of poor toe adjustment and can accelerate tire wear.
Camber is the inward or outward tilt of a wheel’s top, relative to the vertical at the wheel’s center in the lateral plane. Negative camber occurs when the top of the tire leans toward the center of the vehicle when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Positive camber is present when the top of the tire leans outward.
Caster is the angle of the steering axis concerning the longitudinal plane (wheel viewed from the side). A positive caster is attained when the steering axis is tilted toward the vehicle’s rear when viewed from the side. In a side view, a negative caster is accomplished when the steering axis is tilted toward the front of the vehicle.
Toe is the amount by which the front wheels are turned inwards or outwards when viewed from a straight-ahead position. When the wheels are turned in, a positive toe is present. When the wheels are turned out, a negative toe is present. Typically, the actual toe measurement is a fraction of a degree. Toe serves to ensure that the wheels roll parallel to one another. Additionally, the toe serves to compensate for the little deflections of the wheel support system that occur as the vehicle is moving forward. Improper toe adjustment can lead to excessive tire wear and unstable steering.