How to know when you need a wheel alignment

Josh Boakes
Nov 26, 2018

What’s a wheel alignment?

It’s the process of adjusting a car’s suspension into the proper configuration so each wheel’s positioning with the road is even with one another. This can take various adjusting by a experienced mechanic who uses an alignment machine. The wheels need to be aligned to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the tyres and strain on the car.

Is your car out of alignment?

Your car’s alignment can be thrown out of sync easily. It can occur from older vehicles wearing suspension or spring sag. Out of alignment can also be the result of an impact with a pothole or curb.

Key Indicators that your car is out of alignment

Have you found that your vehicle is pulling to one side, your steering wheel vibrates alot when your on the road or your steering wheel isn’t centred when your driving straight down the road. It’s likely that your in need of an alignment. Firstly have a good look at your tyres and check for uneven wear this is a prime indicator that your car is out of alignment.

Benefits of an alignment and why they matter

Other than eliminating those pesky car problems listed above an alignment will also help you reduce fuel consumption. The fuel savings come from less friction and resistance against your tyres when the wheels are straight. Getting an alignment and annual check ups will ensure you get a long life from your tyres!

The technical rundown of how an alignment works:

When a technician is checking your alignment they are primarily focused on three things the camber, toe and caster. These components attribute to the tyre’s movement and position so that they all move in the same direction and perform well.

Camber: The camber angle is the measurement in degrees of the wheels vertical tilt. If a wheel was perfectly perpendicular to the surface (ie: No tilt and a flat top), it’s camber would be 0 degrees. Camber is described as negative when the top of the tyres tilt/slope inward towards the fender walls and positive when the tyres start tilting/sloping away from the vehicle. The optimal camber will depend on your driving style and the local conditions where you car is being driven.

Toe alignment: This is the extent which your tyres turn inward or outward when viewed from above (bird’s eye view). When you stand up look at your feet when you angle your feet inward (referred to as pigeon toed) this is called toe-in alignment when you angle your feet out (referred to as duck footed) this is called toe-out now transfer those visuals to your car! Correct toe alignment is vital to even tread wear and tyre life. If the toe angles are off set they’ll scrub against the road and cause wear along the edges. Although depending on the driver and vehicle the tread life can be sacrificed for performance.


The caster angle is defined by the steerings pivot point and the line this takes through the wheel to the road. Positive caster is when the line is angled forward and negative is when the line is angled backward. Typically, positive camber will make the vehicle more stable at higher speeds and increase tyre lean when cornering.


Wheel alignments are well worth the trouble! They’re a lot cheaper than a new tyre and it’ll prolong your need to replace tyres. It’ll also allow you to drive comfortably and safely in the meantime. At Gas & Tyre we provide these services if you’re based in northland come and see us if your noticing any of the key indicators or you simply would like a check-up. Contact us.

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