Your car wheel alignment, or tracking, describes the optimum position for your wheels as designed under each manufacturer’s specification.
This measurement includes the direction of each wheel and the angle at which they sit, relative to the vehicle.
Checking your car’s wheel alignment requires specialised equipment to measure the smallest shift from their true position, with the most up-to-date systems measuring distances often as small as 0.01mm.
How much does car wheel alignment cost?
The average cost for wheel alignment is around £35. Prices vary from car to car, ranging between £25 and £50. How much to fix your car tracking will depend on the type of car, where you live, and who you choose to carry out the work.
Here at Fixter, we offer incredibly competitive prices for the highest quality service.
Get in touch with one of our team today, and find out how much money we can save you.
How do car wheels fall out of alignment?
One of the main reasons our wheels move out of alignment is down to the state of our roads. The other is poor driving.
Hitting potholes, holes in the road and other debris, or bouncing off kerbs and sleeping-policemen can affect your wheel alignment. A heavy connection or collision can be responsible for substantial movement, creating subsequent problems in future driving.
Different types of wheel misalignment
The toe alignment focuses on the angle of each wheel and tyre. When the front of the wheel is pointing inwards, towards the car, this is known as toeing-in. This can happen on one wheel, a pair, or with all 4 of them.
When toeing in occurs, you’ll likely notice excessive wear on the outer shoulder of the tyre—that’s the side facing towards the road.
Toeing-out occurs in the opposite direction to toeing-in (obviously). The front of the wheel will point outwards, away from the vehicle. The wear it causes will appear on the inner shoulder of the tyres, the side facing into the car itself.
The camber is the amount a wheel tilts from top to bottom. Where a wheel tilts outwards away from the car and towards the road, this is called ‘positive camber’.
The camber isn’t always easy to spot by eye, and why specialist equipment is so important. Even though camber isn’t too easy to spot visually, you will soon notice any pulling towards either side of the road or excessive tyre wear on a particular section of the tyre tread.
A negative camber happens where the tops of the wheels lean in towards the vehicle.
Cross camber refers to the tilt across the whole vehicle, where both wheels lean in the same direction.
Why do I need wheel alignment?
It’s a fact that bad wheel alignment will affect your car’s handling. You might not notice it much at first, but as the problem gets worse, so will your handling. For your car to operate at its best, it really should handle as intended by its manufacturer.
Reduced tyre wear
We mentioned where the tyre wear happens under different types of misalignment. There are 2 reasons to avoid this.
The first is that your wheels aren’t connecting with the road as they should, offering less than the optimum amount of grip on the road’s surface.
The second is that you’ll have to replace your tyres more often. Tyres don’t come cheap, so driving a car without such excessive tyre wear will save you a great deal of money over the long-term. You want your tyres to last as long as they possibly can; so correct wheel alignment is imperative.
If your car isn’t rolling along the road as smoothly as it’s designed to, then you’re not getting the best from your fuel economy. Straighten those wheels up and get more miles for your money.
Whenever things aren’t quite right with your car, you’re increasing the chances of breakages and less than ideal performance. Both of which can result in accidents or mishaps, neither of which any driver needs.
It’s good for the environment
With better fuel economy—down to correct wheel alignment—your emissions lower and your carbon footprint is reduced. For all you green drivers and environmentalists, that’s one more reason to keep those wheels nice and straight.
Without troublesome vibrations or a steering wheel that pulls against where you want to go, driving your car will be far more comfortable, smooth, and enjoyable.
What are the typical signs of incorrect wheel alignment?
Uneven tyre wear
Depending on the type of misalignment, your tyres will wear in different ways. As we mentioned earlier, toeing-in and toeing-out will result in wear on the outside and inside of the tyre shoulder, respectively.
Tyre wear is one of the first telltale signs that there’s something amiss with your car’s tracking.
Vibration in the steering wheel under normal driving
Another sign of poorly aligned wheels is that you may feel some vibration in the steering wheel while driving. It won’t necessarily happen all the time but can be more noticeable at certain speeds more than others. That said, this can be caused by the wheels not being balanced correctly, as well as misalignment.
Dragging and pulling across the road
We’re not saying you should let go of the steering wheel regularly while driving, but one of the ways poorly aligned wheels manifest is by pulling the car across the road. In some situations, you can feel the pull against the steering wheel, or if you were to let go, you’d see the drift happen as you move forwards (and sideways!).
Abnormal noises when turning corners
There is a small chance of your tyres making a slight squeal, or the wheels themselves, making some unusual sounds as you turn through corners.
What is the difference between wheel alignment, tracking, and balancing?
Wheel alignment and tracking are 2 names for the same thing. Wheel balancing, however, is down to the weight distribution around the tyre and wheel. This is important for the smooth rotation while the car is in motion. Where the weight isn’t balanced correctly, small weights are added in specific places to even the distribution.
Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.