You’ve probably been curious about what the mechanic does to your carduring alignment. He spins the wheels with a motor, puts some weights on them, puts dotted sheets on all four tyres, and sometimes uses a hammer to get them back into shape. Let me explain why all of that is good for your car.
Machine for Keeping Wheels Even
Before you turn on the dryer in a semi-automatic washing machine, you have to push the clothes down. If you don’t do this, one of the dryer’s edges will be heavier or lighter than the other. If a wheel on your car isn’t balanced, it will make vibrations that are not only annoying but also bad for the car’s parts. So, the mechanic has to put the centre of gravity back where it should be, which is in the middle.
Sensors use the “dotted sheet” to figure out where there are differences.
After the tyres are balanced and put back on the car, the car is aligned. All four wheels are connected to some sheets with a dotted pattern. A computer connected to a set cameras or sensorssees those sheets, finds the problems and displays them on the screen. Then, the mechanic fixes all four wheels until the computer says it is done.
There are three things to keep in mind when putting them back in shape: Caster, Camber, and Toe.
Caster is the angle between the front tyres’ top and bottom ball joints. Think about a bike. The suspension rods don’t connect to the centre of the tyre in a straight line. Instead, they are at an angle. Even cars use the same method to help them handle shocks better.
Positive caster is a feature of all passenger cars. Both front wheels need to have the same amount of caster.
If you let go of the steering wheel, the car will always try to drift toward the lower caster. If your left wheel has a +5° ofcaster angle and your right wheel has a +4° ofcaster angle, it will tend to move to the right.
When you look at a car from the front, this is the angle between the two wheels (or back). Negative camber is when the tyres are closer together at the top, and positive camber is when they are wider. Or, to put it more simply, from the front or back:
If the wheels make the letter “A,” this is called “negative camber.” If they look like a “V,” the camber is positive.
It’s best for passenger cars to have no camber. Negative camber is used on sports cars to help them turn. On the other hand, when pulling a lot of weight, a positive camber helps. When you add more weight, the wheels go back to having no camber. When the diesel-powered 3-wheelers are sitting still, a positive camber is easy to spot. They are made to carry 15 people at a time.
This one is the easiest to understand out of the three. If you pointed your toes outward, you’d say that they were “toed out.” “Toe in” means to point them in. They should be parallel to each other, if possible. As the tyres try to go in their own direction, they push against each other, which causes drag and makes the car use more gas. Also, the tyres will wear out quickly and in different places.
Toeing in will wear down the outside edge of your tyres, while toeing out will wear down the inside edge.
Some car makers add a very small amount of toe-in to their high-performance cars to give them more grip. As the car starts to move down the highway, the surface of the road pushes the tyres outward to get them back to being parallel. This gets rid of the car’s toe-in when it’s sitting still.
When your car is aligned, any toe is taken out so that all of the wheels work together.
What Can You Do?
Every 5,000 km, you should get your wheels aligned. Every 10,000km, balancing can be done. If you have to drive through a lot of potholes and broken roads often, get the wheels balanced every 5,000 km.