by Pat Goss
A phrase that I hear from lots of drivers all the time, I think my car needs a front wheel alignment. Alright well, does it really? See there’s more to a modern car than just a front wheel alignment.
Now let’s see what we’re talking about. We have this little imitation car we’ve got the wheels properly aligned on it, we push it down the road and it goes straight. But let’s misalign the rear wheels. Let’s get this here, and now we can see that the rear wheels are off on an angle like that, the front wheels they’re still straight ahead. So we push it down the road now and what happens? Well the rear wheels steer the car right off of the road. Or it might steer it into the center of the road depending on how the car is out of alignment and that means that as we go down to compensate for this we have to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction so when the car is moving the steering wheel is no longer properly centered. So that’s sometimes an indication of the rear wheels being out of alignment.
So what do we do? Well we take the car into the shop and the shop has to put it on an alignment machine and check the adjustment of the rear wheels in order to know if they are in alignment or out of alignment. If they are out of alignment we align the rear wheels first. Then we use those as a reference to align the front wheels. Now we have aligned all four wheels and it is a four wheel alignment. And when we get done the steering wheel, well it should be just nice and centered no matter what we are doing other than steering the wheel. The big thing, remember, you don’t know if it needs a four wheel alignment til after it has been checked. And keep in mind that virtually all modern cars have arms and adjusters and stuff here in the back that can be turned to adjust the rear wheel so all of this works properly. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.