When it comes to driving ability and responsiveness, one of the most important factors that determines a vehicle’s performance are the tires. Driving on worn-down, flat, or damaged tires can drastically impact not only the vehicle’s handling and responsiveness, but also the fuel economy, costing owners more in the long run. However, the condition of the tires is not the only thing a vehicle owner has to worry about when it comes to handling. The alignment of the tires can actually affect many different things, from driving ability and handling to even how long the tires and suspension last. Understanding not only what a tire alignment is and why it is necessary, but also how to determine if one is needed is good information for any vehicle owner to possess. Regular tire alignments can keep your car driving smoothly, and can also prevent you from spending money on new tires prematurely. One of the best places to bring your vehicle for a tire service is your local dealership, as they are fully stocked and have mechanics who specialize on your particular brand of vehicle.
What is a Tire Alignment?
A tire alignment is a very necessary form of maintenance that a vehicle owner must perform from time to time. Although it is called a “tire/wheel alignment,” it is not actually the tire or the wheel being adjusted, but rather the vehicle’s suspension. The suspension is the vehicle’s system of connecting it to the wheels. It allows motion between the two, making movement possible for the vehicle. The key to a good alignment is adjusting the angles of the tire, which affects how they make contact with the road. When a mechanic performs an alignment, they are looking for three things in particular; camber, toe, and caster. The camber refers to the inward and outward angle of the tire when viewed from the front of the vehicle. Too much inward or outward tilt can indicate that the alignment is off, and it must be adjusted. Wheel bearings and ball joints could contribute to the misalignment of the camper. The toe of the wheel is the extent to which the tires turn inwards and outwards when viewed from above the vehicle. When they are both straight and even, the wheels are properly aligned. However, if they are either bent inwards or outwards, the wheels may need to be aligned. And finally, there is the caster angle, which helps control stability, cornering, and steering. It is the angle of the wheel when directly facing the tire. If it is perfectly straight when the wheel is straight, then the tire is aligned. However, if it is either angled towards the driver or the front of the car, then the alignment could require adjustment.
Why a Tire Alignment is Necessary
There is a number of issues that can arise from driving a vehicle that requires a tire alignment. For one, the tire can wear unevenly, which can drastically reduce the lifespan and effectiveness of your tires. Buying new tires can be expensive, so maximizing your tires’ lifespan will save you money in the long run. There are several different ways in which the tread on tires can wear, and one can actually get an idea of which sort of alignment issue they have. The first form of uneven wear that is usually attributed to misalignment is known as “feathering.” This is when the tread is smooth on one side and sharp on the other. This usually indicates that the toe of the wheels is out of alignment. Camber tread is when either the inside or the outside of the tread is drastically more worn than the center of the tire, indicating that the camber of the tire is either negative or positive. When the tire’s tread unevenly wears down from one side to the other, this is usually indicative that either the heel or toe is out of alignment. When you run your hand across the tire, it would feel rough and sharp. However, this can also indicate that the tires are underinflated, so you should check your tire pressure before getting a tire alignment performed.
Outside of wearing down tires unevenly, a car that is out of alignment can affect other areas of the vehicle as well, namely the suspension. Misaligned tires can cause unnecessary stress on certain suspension parts such as ball joints, tie-rods, and axles. These are rather expensive fixes and can be avoided simply by paying attention to your tires. Misaligned tires can also throw-off the steering of the vehicle, especially at higher speeds. This can cause the vehicle to start pulling to either the left or the right while, which as you can imagine could cause some very unfortunate accidents unless you are tightly controlling the steering wheel. It can also affect braking, causing longer braking distances. If you happen to notice your vehicle pulling to one side while you are on the driveway, odds are your tires need an alignment.
Why Kings Ford is the Best Place for a Ford Alignment
When it comes to any sort of vehicle maintenance, having a reliable mechanic who knows your vehicle is an absolute must. Each make, model, and year is unique, and can have a completely different set-up. While smaller shops are great for a quick fluid swap, they may not possess the tools and equipment necessary to perform an alignment properly, and may not have worked on your particular vehicle before. The best place to take your vehicle for mechanical work is your local dealership. Not only will they possess the proper gear to service your vehicle, but also an in-depth knowledge of your personal vehicle’s make and model. When it comes to Ford owners in the Cincinnati area, there is no better place to take your Ford for a tire alignment than Kings Ford. Our mechanics in the service department specialize in Fords and will know exactly what to look for when assessing your vehicle. They will also be able to tell if your vehicle requires any other sort of maintenance, and can figure it out without requiring another separate check-up, which can save you some money over time.
When it comes to vehicles, one of the more important things is how the vehicle drives and handles. A smooth suspension can make a world of difference in driving comfort and responsiveness. However, just like anything on a vehicle, maintenance will be required from time to time, such as a tire/wheel alignment. These are necessary because driving while your tires are out of alignment can cause your tires’ tread to wear unevenly, which would lead to them needing to be replaced sooner. It can also cause the vehicle to pull to one side while driving at higher speeds, as well as unnecessary stress and wear on other parts of the suspension. There are several ways to tell if your vehicle is need of an alignment, and should not be ignored if they are present. When it comes to deciding where to go for an alignment, you can never go wrong with heading to your local dealership. When it comes to Ford owners in the Cincinnati area; that would be us at Kings Ford, as our professional staff are trained specifically to handle any and all Ford models.