Diagnosing Wheel Alignment Problems

Diagnosing Wheel Alignment Problems If you’ve noticed that your car is veering in one direction, even though the wheels are straight, it may be time to check your vehicle for wheel alignment problems. Faulty wheel alignment can be responsible for a car pulling or drifting left or right, or for steering that doesn’t react as smoothly as what you’re used to. Whether you’re taking auto mechanic courses, interested in auto careers or just a simple driver, there are a few simple tricks you can use to diagnose wheel alignment problems. How? Here are a few steps to follow.

Check the air pressure on all four tires

To make sure that wheel alignment is the cause of your problems, you need to eliminate tire problems as a variable from the equation. Start with air pressure. All tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the driver’s manual of your car. You should also check the tires for unusual wear or tear. If one tire is much more damaged and worn out than the others, this can be the source of your troubles. Lastly, all tires should be of the same type. Winter tires mixed in with normal highway tires can lead to disastrous results, such as the car drifting in one direction.

Examine the front-end alignment

With a tape measure and a two foot level, you can check for front-end alignment issues. You should start with measuring the front and rear distance between the centre of the tires. Ideally, the front of each tire should point a little towards the centre of the vehicle. This will give the tires equal traction. Though this task is a little more complicated, you can also verify that the vertical angle of the centre of the tire is perpendicular to the cross-section of the car. This operation is usually best left to a professional who possesses auto mechanic training.

Test your vehicle on a flat road

Test your vehicle on a flat road

Pick a flat road surface, like a highway, on a calm, sunny day, and drive at a constant, normal speed. If possible, the road should be relatively free of traffic as well. Try the following test: Gently let go of your grip on the steering wheel and see how the car reacts. If the car pulls to the left or right by itself, it could be a strong indication that you have wheel alignment issues. You can also listen to the car. If you hear scraping, whining or grinding sounds, your problem may be with your tire experiencing excessive friction. Lastly, you can ask a friend to follow you and observe how your front wheels turn compared to your back wheels. Your friend might notice unusual leaning in the tires, a bent frame or other problems.

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