Wheel alignment is not expensive. The procedure is concerned with adjusting the suspension. Many drivers don’t even realize that wheel alignment is a necessary aspect of maintenance and repair.
The Wheel Alignment Process
If you’ve never witnessed wheel alignment in person, the procedure emphasizes the following:
‘Toe’ is the reason the car moves in a straight line even though you keep making minor adjustments to the steering wheel while on the road. The term looks at how straight the tires are in relation to one another. If you have a good toe, you will observe parallel tracks that remain perfectly aligned wherever your car passes.
But if the tires are misaligned in this area, their tracks will become uneven, either coming together or moving away from one another in certain places.
While ‘Toe’ prioritizes the relationship between the tires, ‘Camber’ looks at the tires and their relationship with the ground. The focus is the angle of the tires. You don’t want them to lean in or out. They should remain perfectly perpendicular to the floor.
A careful inspection will determine whether you have too much negative or positive camber. Negative camber is not bad. You want some negative camber in the rear wheels to turn corners more efficiently. Negative camber only becomes a problem when it’s too much.
You can expect similar issues if you have a positive camber in one tire and a negative camber in the other. Book-My-Garage has diagrams showing negative and positive camber, not to mention Toe-In and Toe-Out.
This looks at the angle of the front suspension. You want a positive caster because it means the front suspension is tilted towards the back by a few degrees.
A positive caster allows the steering wheel to return to the appropriate position every time you turn it. A negative caster is problematic. It manifests when you hit something, such as a deep pothole.
With these variables in mind, anyone can perform a wheel alignment. In a garage, it is a simple matter of lifting the car, attaching a target to each wheel (outside), and taking measurements using cameras. But what if you don’t have a proper alignment setup? What if you want to perform wheel alignment at home? The process will involve the following:
- First, get a flat workspace with proper ventilation. You also need a car jack, tape measure, level, and jack stands.
- Park your car in a spot that allows you to work freely. Turn the steering wheel until the front wheels point straight ahead.
- Raise the car with the jack and apply the stands.
- Hold chalk on a fixed point on the tire.
- Turn the wheel gently. This should make a line that runs around the tire.
- Do this for both sides of the tire.
- You can determine the toe by measuring the distance between the markings on each front wheel (from the front of the wheel). Do this on the back of the front tires as well.
This is time-consuming. You may need help to expedite the process. Keep in mind that you also have the camber to measure. This involves lowering the car and holding the level flat on the wheel’s surface to see if it reads out in some way.
The Drive platform wants consumers to refrain from performing this task. They think you’re better off getting a mechanic to align your wheels. But if you can’t find a mechanic, 1A Auto has a video showing consumers how to perform wheel alignment. Their method involves cardboard and wires.
Once you know what to look for, you can improvise any method that allows you to measure the toe and camber. You don’t have to limit yourself to a particular procedure.
How Long Does A Wheel Alignment Take?
It can take an hour or more to finish wheel alignment. Knowing this range will help you determine whether or not your mechanic did a proper job. Any garage that completes this procedure in 20 minutes or less should concern. They probably cut corners. You can’t trust that they performed the alignment correctly.
Actually, How Much Does It Cost For A Wheel Alignment?
The prices range between $ 125 and $168. This shows that wheel alignment is not all that expensive, and the cost doesn’t change as drastically as people think from location to location. Wheel alignment prices can vary because of the following factors:
1). Wheel Alignment Procedures Are Not All The Same
Garages offer different types of alignment services. Some people pay for a front-wheel alignment and nothing else. Others pay for all four wheels.
Many vehicle owners want to improve a car’s handling and agility, so they pay for performance alignment. But most drivers are more interested in a standard alignment that looks at the toe and camber. The type of wheel alignment will influence the cost directly.
2). Some Vehicles Are More Challenging Than Others
People think age is the only significant variable. After all, older cars require more effort to align than their newer counterparts, and that is true.
However, you also have modern sports cars that require a specialist to align; hence the hefty price tags the procedure attracts.
Everyone understands why size matters. Larger cars are more expensive to align than smaller vehicles. When you drive into a garage, an expert will assess your vehicle and provide an estimate of the cost of alignment.
3). Labor Cost Is The Most Expensive Aspect Of Wheel Alignment
You need skilled and experienced mechanics to perform this task. The longer it takes, the more money you will pay in the long run. Keep the initial inspection in mind. It may contribute to the final cost of the procedure.
4). Condition Of Vehicle Matters
If the tires and suspension are damaged beyond repair, you must replace them before the mechanic can perform wheel alignment. If these components need fixing, the mechanic must repair them before the wheel alignment commences.
5). Driving Path Also Makes A Difference
If you spend a lot of time on the road, wheel alignment will cost you more because you do it more frequently, especially if you drive on poorly maintained roads.
You can’t trust every shop you encounter. Some establishments exaggerate the cost of wheel alignment. This is why you need to consider as many options as possible. Compare the rates of all the candidates before making a decision.
Look for repair shops with discounts, coupons, and attractive promotions that lower the cost of wheel alignment.
Do I Really Need To Do Wheel Alignment?
Yes, you need to align your vehicle’s wheels at least once a year, although twice a year is better. If you ignore wheel alignment, the consequences won’t hit you at once. In fact, your vehicle will continue to operate as expected for several months. But eventually, the effects will catch up to you. They include the following:
1). Your tires will wear out faster. A Sensors study (Chin-Yuan Chuang, Jieh-Shian Young, hong-Yi Hsu) expects similar consequences if you misalign the tires. This consequence is costly. Tires are not cheap, especially if you have to replace them every few months.
Some people blame worn-out tires on poor driving habits. But if the tires are wearing out unevenly, misalignment is the problem.
2). The car will drift to one side. This is dangerous because it can lead to an accident, especially if you’re driving on a bad road.
3). The steering wheel’s position won’t match the angle of the tires. You must hold the steering wheel in a crooked position to keep the car straight.
4). The tires will squeal because they have failed to make even contact with the road. This side effect can lead to an accident.
5). The car will use more fuel because the tires are basically dragging along the road.
6). It will take longer for the vehicle to stop whenever you step on the brakes.
Can Wheel Alignment Be Done At Home?
Yes, you can. You don’t need special tools. Tape measure and chalk are more than enough. But the process may take longer, and you can’t expect the same accuracy professional tools provide.