Wheel alignments are simply enough named, but oddly enough can be very confusing to someone who’s doesn’t understand all of the facets to a vehicle’s wheel alignment. In fact, aligning wheels isn’t just about making them straight: it’s about measuring their various angles, adjusting to compensate angular stress and resetting your camber, caster and toe to optimal specifications.
Whoa, whoa, whoa—let’s step back for a minute. What are camber, caster and toe and what do they have to do with your vehicle, you ask? This is actually a tremendously good question to ask and one that should better help you understand what’s all entailed in the process of getting a wheel alignment in Norwalk, OH. Take a look at these three terms and what makes them unique:
- Camber: Camber is the measurement of the difference in angle between the wheel’s vertical alignment as it rests perpendicular to the surface it’s on. Envision it like this: if you put a quarter on the table and stand it on its edge, this is your wheel. Now, if you tip the quarter slightly and hold it so that it doesn’t fall over, this is what caster is in reference to: the horizontal movement of your vertical tire.
- Caster: Caster is a little harder to explain, but again, it’s an angular measurement of your wheels that’s not generally welcomed. Speaking technically, caster is the angle created by a pivot point from the front to the back of the vehicle.
- Toe: Again, both negative and positive toes exist for vehicle alignments and each can be adjusted to assist a vehicle when it’s on the road. Positive toe means that both wheels on the same axel begin to point inward towards each other, like a pigeon-toed person. Likewise, negative toe is the opposite instance and happens when tires start to push themselves outwards. Toe has the largest bearing on fuel economy and tire wear, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to a wheel alignment in Norwalk, OH, this is likely going to be the problem that’s addressed.
Now that we’ve got these three important details out of the way, it’s time to consider what each does in regards to how your vehicle functions on the road and what benefits or detractors it has associated with it:
- Camber: Better grip and traction can be the result of optimal camber, along with better handling at high speeds. However, the downfall of poor camber is a loss of traction and troubles controlling your vehicle in less than stellar conditions.
- Caster: Easier steering and less effort to handle your vehicle can come down to the perfect caster. On the flip side, having poor or improper caster measurements means wearing down your tires more and creating friction when you corner.
- Tow: Again, tow shines when optimal and wrecks havoc when it’s off. Good tow can give your vehicle increased cornering abilities, better handling at high speeds and some seriously good traction. Bad tow measurements will only get you shaky steering pulling in one direction or another and more chances to lose your grip on the road.