WHAT IS AN ALIGNMENT?

WHAT IS AN ALIGNMENT?

Your suspension gets "Out of Alignment" when the suspension and steering systems are not operating at their desired angles.  On an older vehicle, out of alignment conditions are most often caused by spring sag or suspension wear (ball joints, bushings,, etc.)  an impact with a pothole or curb is another way to put the suspension out of alignment.  Incorrect alignment usually results in more rapid tire wear.

Our factory trained service technicians can inspect your alignment and make any and all necessary adjustments.

When Should You Get An Alignment Check

Your vehicle's alignment should be a) checked whenever new tires or suspension components are installed, and b) any time unusual tire wear patterns appear.  Also you should have the alignment checked after the vehicle has encountered a major road hazard or curb.

The graphic below shows what to look for on your tire that will indicate a service need.


What Type Of Alignments Are There?

There are three types of alignments:  Front-End, Thrust Angle and Four-Wheel Alignment.

We offer all three types of alignments.

    Front-End Alignment

During a front-end alignment, only the front axle's angles are measured and adjusted.  Frond-end alignments are fine for some vehicles featuring a solid read axle, but donfirming that the front tires are positioned to track directly in front of the read tires is also important.  Most cars need a different alignment than a front end alignment.

    Thrust Angle Alignment

In order to make sure the front and rear wheels are tracking correctly on a solid rear axle vehicle, this requires a thrust angle alignment that allows the technician performing the alignment to confirm that all four wheels are 'square' with each other.  Thrust angle alignments are also identify vehicles that would 'dog track' going down the road with the rear end offset from the front.

    Four-Wheel Alignment

On all vehicles with four-wheel independent suspensions or front-wheel drive

Toe

The suspension angle called "Toe" measures the exact direction the tires are pointed compared to the centerline of the vehicle when viewed from directly above.  Toe is expressed in either degrees or factions-of-an-inch, and an axle has 'positive toe' or 'toe-in' when if you run an imaginary line through the centerlines of the tires, the lines intersect in front of the vehicle, and have 'negative toe' or 'toe-out' when they spread apart.  Toe settings are generally used to help compensate for the suspension 'give' built in for ride comfort, in order to help tires wear longer.  Toe can also be used to adjust the vehicle's handling.

A front-wheel drive vehicle 'pulls' the vehicle along through the front axle, resulting in forward movement of the suspension axles against their bushings.  Most front-wheel drive vehicles use some negative toe-out to compensate for the movement so that the tires can run parallel to each other at speed.

A rear-wheel drive vehicle 'pushes' the car and the front axle's tires as they roll along the road. Because the tires make some resistance when they roll, this causes a little 'pull' or 'drag' toward the back of the car which results in a rearward movement of the suspension arms against their bushings.  Most rear-wheel drive vehicles use some positive toe-in to compensate for the movement so the tires run parallel to each other at speed.

Why Is Adjusting Toe Important?

The vehicle's toe is one of the most important settings in an alignment as it relates to the wear.  A toe setting that is just a little off its correct setting can mean a big difference in how your tires wear.  If the toe setting is just misadjusted by 1/16 inch off, each tire on that axle will scrub almost seven feet sideways every mile!  As an example, that translates to the front tires 'scrubbing' in a sideways motion over 1/4 mile during every 100 miles you drive!  Incorrect toe robs you of tire life and negatively impacts handling.

Thrust  Angle

The thrust angle is an imaginary line drawn perpendicular to the rear axle's centerline.;  It compares whether the rear axle is lined up with the centerline of the vehicle.  It also tells is the rear axle is parallel to the front axle and also that the wheelbase on both sides of the vehicle is the same.

The Russell Barnett Automotive Family of dealerships are equipped to service you vehicle alignment needs.  Our family of dealerships is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, and Winchester, Tennessee.

Schedule your alignment today at one of our five dealerships.

For other frequently asked service questions, click here.