At the Eurotyre garage at Estació Enclar Carburants Andorrans de Santa Coloma, we have a brand new Ravaglioli tyre aligner.
The alignment costs 40 euros for passenger cars and 45 euros for 4×4 vehicles.
But what does vehicle wheel alignment mean?
When we drive our car and notice that it doesn’t stay on a steady path (it pulls to the right or to the left when we let go of the steering wheel for a few seconds) we could say that the wheel alignment is poor. Furthermore, if the steering wheel vibrates, or the steering behaviour is strange when performing routine manoeuvres, we could also be dealing with an alignment problem.
What the wheel alignment does is adjust the geometric configuration, the steering mechanism and the suspension components according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Basically, what it does is reset the wheel angles to keep them perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.
Correct alignment provides uniform wear of the tyres, more precise driving as well as extending tyre life. On the other hand, if the alignment is not right it will result in uneven wear of the tyres (both the front and rear tyres) causing not only instability when changing direction, but also making vehicle manoeuvrability difficult.
A vehicle’s wheel alignment can be lost by a knock on the tyre on a kerb or by suddenly driving over a pothole.
For correct alignment, the parameters that must be regulated are called angles and are as follows:
- Wheel angle inclination: With respect to the vertical axis, taking into account the length of the vehicle.
- Convergence angle: Looking at the vehicle from above, the wheels must be perfectly parallel, preventing them from pointing inwards (convergence) or outwards (divergence).
- Angle of inclination of the axis: When turning the steering wheel, the wheels perform a movement on a pivot attached to the vehicle’s suspension; this angle will then be the one that the wheel forms with the pivot, compared to an imaginary vertical line that will go through the centre of the wheel, seen laterally.
Lastly, the wheel alignment not only has to be checked when the steering lets you know that there is a problem. We must take it into account to avoid mechanical problems in the following situations.
- When the tyres are replaced
- When irregular tyre wear is observed
- After a heavy impact caused by potholes, stones and other objects
- In the periodic inspections recommended by the vehicle manufacturer
- When any component of the suspension or the steering is replaced
- Every time you notice the vehicle behaving strangely, when it pulls more to one side or when it has difficulty staying on path.