Alignment – Tell me a story
Your worn tyres will tell an experienced tyre man a great deal about the mechanical condition of your car, and the way you drive it.
Tell-tales on a rear wheel drive are rear tyres worn in the crown (hard driving), rear tyres worn on the inside only (I.R.S. camber /load relationship), and tyres worn scored or smooth-surfaced (jack rabbit starts or not).
Front wheel tyres worn excessively on the shoulders show up misalignment, fast cornering, and underinflation. That’s just some of them.
Front wheel drive cars are different. The front tyres can wear nearly twice as fast as the rears, and can show wear in the crown, and excess wear on the shoulders, at the same time, for all the reasons listed above.
Yet the salesman will spend much more time trying to sell you the flavour of the month, and then recommend that you have a wheel alignment after new tyres are fitted.
What are the benefits? After all, alignment can cost quite a bit, and it might seem hard to justify. For the dealer, the installation is a big outlay in both equipment and training for the operator.
However, tyres are an expensive item, so here are some of the benefits:
- The car is easier to drive and steer, so long trips are less tiring.
- Tyre life is increased, particularly if the alignment on the previous set was out of whack
- Restoration of the steering angles designed into the car will make it handle the way the designer intended.
- You’ll get your money back in extended tread life, provided of course that you don’t indulge in the improved handling and cornering that result.
- Adjustment to your suspension camber can be made to suit the way you use your car. For example, suspension can be adjusted if the car has a high negative camber for fast cornering, but is used mainly on freeways. Aftermarket kits are readily available to permit these changes.
- If you’ve had a bingle, make sure that your car is completely aligned before you sign the release form from the panel works.
- If you have kerbed your front wheels badly, it will pay to have them checked.
- After any front end work on steering or drive components, alignment is highly desirable.
- Ask the tyre salesman before he launches into his spiel, to assess the wear pattern on your tyres, and advise him how you actually use the car, before he makes a recommendation on the best tyre for YOU.
See also the following article on misalignment to the thrust line of the vehicle, particularly on front wheel drives.