Wheel Alignment


Do I need an alignment

What is an alignment and do I need one?

Vehicle alignment is a complicated issue. When speaking about vehicle alignment, your service advisor is referring to the position of your tires relative to the vehicle's body. This includes their position fore and aft, as well as the angle at which the tires sit relative to the vehicle's body on all four axes. There are a lot of parts in your suspension system that can affect your alignment. While driving a vehicle in need of alignment can be annoying, more importantly it can affect the performance, longevity, and safety of your tires and vehicle. At our Kia repair center serving Richmond, we can take care of this for you with expert precision.

How did my vehicle lose its alignment?

Alignment measurements are taken in tenths and hundredths of degrees, so it does not take much to knock your alignment out. There are many ways that this can happen, and we think that you'll be familiar with most of them.

Wheel alignment can be thrown off by:

  • Potholes
  • Hitting curbs
  • Bumping into parking stall barriers
  • Wear and tear - as your vehicle ages, the rubber brushes that go throughout your suspension start to crack and lose elasticity, while socket and ball joints develop wear.

How do I know if I need an alignment?

There are a few indicators that will help you determine if you need an alignment, all of which can be checked out by our full-service Kia repair center serving Richmond. Our experts can help figure out the issue and get you back on the road!

  • Uneven tread wear
  • Vehicle pulling to the left or right
  • Your steering wheel is off center when driving straight
  • Steering wheel vibration

How often should I be getting an alignment?

Every car is a little different but generally, you should have an alignment once a year or every third oil change (depending on driving conditions). If you find yourself doing a lot of driving where you are hitting potholes, large ruts, or other debris you may need to have it checked more often. Please consult your owner's manual for your manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

What if I neglect my alignment?

We hate to think that this would even cross your mind. Neglecting your alignment over time will end up costing you more money than the alignment. Poor alignment will cause poor tire wear, and drastically reduce the life of them. You will find yourself buying expensive sets of tires far more often. As your alignment worsens, you may start to experience steering and handling issues. The added stress on the tires will translate into added stress on your suspension components, leading to a need to replace costly parts earlier and more frequently than expected.

What is actually done during an alignment?

Once the technician pulls your car into the shop, they will do a visual and physical inspection of your tires and all suspension components to check that everything is in proper working condition. If a tire, bushing, or other suspension part needs replacement, it is best to replace it before the alignment is performed. Once the inspection has taken place, the technician will place the vehicle on a specialized machine that places a specific laser and mirror system on each wheel. That system will translate precise measurements to a computer, letting the technician know your current camber, toe, and caster. The computer will also indicate where the adjustments need to be and how much adjustment is needed. Each vehicle has its own set of recommended camber, toe, and caster settings, so it is important to set up an appointment with us to make sure you’ve taken your vehicle to a reputable service station with a good alignment machine.

What is Camber, Toe, and Caster?

1. CamberCamber

Camber is the inward or outward angle of the tire when viewed from the front of the vehicle. To much negative or positive camber is an indication of improper alignment and will need to be adjusted. Often this is caused by worn wheel-suspension parts.

2. Toe

ToeToe is the angle at which your tires turn inward or outward when viewed from above. When both tires are pointed at each other this is called toe-in, and when both are pointed away from each other this is called to-out alignment. Both require their own adjustments. This is a separate adjustment independent of your vehicles camber.

3. CasterCaster

Caster is the angle of your steering axis when viewed from the side of the vehicle. Positive caster indicates that the axis tilted towards the driver. Negative caster indicates that the axis tilts toward the front of your vehicle. This adjustment helps to balance steering, stability, and cornering of your vehicle. This to is a separate adjustment from the caster and toe adjustments.