Cars – Do-It-Yourself Wheel Alignment

It is a common problem that so few drivers notice; a little pull on the right is nothing, some might think.  But the trouble that comes after ignoring the obvious imbalance in your vehicle’s wheels is really something you cannot sweep under the carpet.

Misaligned wheels cause a lot more problems than what an average driver might expect. For one, your tyres will bear the grunt of it, wearing thin unevenly, in which case you are going to have to change all of your tyres and then have your wheels aligned.  That would cost a load of money I am quite certain you are not willing to let go of.

You might also feel a bit of vibration when you let go of your steering wheel, or a slight pull to the left or right when you are driving fast on the highway.  To avoid having to go through all these tribulations, you might want to consider checking your alignment at home, just to keep your peace of mind.

There are three factors that affect the alignment of your vehicle; the toe-in, camber, and caster.  Except for the caster, you can check the others right in your own home.

If you look at your front wheels, you might notice that they are slightly pigeon-toed.  This is to make sure that there is lighter load on the front tyres than the rear ones. You will find the specifics on your car’s owners manual and you can measure them in your garage.  Typically, the specs range from 1Ž32- to 1Ž8-inches.  You can choose to check the toe-in with your own devices (like a tape measure) or you can buy tools from car companies or service centers. If ypu suspect that your wheels are misaligned, you can check the front tyres for a weird pattern of tyre wear, like a saw-tooth that is evident on both tyres.  If you do not want to wait for this to happen (which would probably be the best mindset), you’ll need to follow these steps:

1.    Park your car on level ground and keep your steering wheel centered.

2.    Jack up the first wheel and spray paint a line on the tyre while spinning it lightly.

3.    Mark a line through the wheel with a sharp tool positioned on stable ground.  This will be your measure indicator for the other tyre.

4.    Do the same steps for the other tyre.

5.    Measure the toe-in from one tyre line to the other, at the front and at the back of the wheels.  The difference between the the measurements reveal the toe.

6.    If the measured toe-in is not equal to the specified measurement in your manual, you can adjust it through the tie-rod adjuster sleeves.

7.    If the tie-rod sleeve nuts are too tight, you can use a lubricant to loosen them.

8.    Adjust both sides of the tie rod equally.

9.    After you have adjusted, spin the wheels a little to stabilize the alignment.

10.    Measure the toe-in again by following the steps above.

After you have adjusted and measured your front wheels’ toe-in, make sure that you securely replace the nuts by using a torque to tighten them back in.

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