When it comes to keeping the car in control and smoothing out the ride, your vehicle’s suspension system comes in and plays a crucial role. What it does is maximize the friction between the road and the tires, providing good handling and steering stability. Moreover, this is the component that is responsible for providing a comfortable ride for the passengers. The suspension system limits the impact of certain road conditions on the car and to the passengers it carries. Needless to say, it plays an important role in ensuring that the car stays reliable and in good condition.
Why Suspension Alignment is Important
When maintaining a used car from Japan, lots of people misunderstand what wheel alignment is. They dwell in the fact that vehicles’ wheels are already ‘aligned’ in the factory. A lot of people wonder why they should worry about alignment.
There are modern suspension systems that allow adjustments for certain factors like changes in tires, manufacturing tolerances, wear, and even accidents. However, in areas where adjustments are allowed, it is also possible that over time, the parts will wear our or slip a little bit, especially when they are strongly bumped. This results in misalignment.
It is also worth noting that whenever you change something associated with the suspension, the alignment can change. When you want to keep your vehicle running economically and safely, you have to ensure that you check and adjust the alignment from time to time.
To give you a better understanding of the importance of periodic alignment, we will explain certain aspects of alignment that can be adjusted:
Tires face almost directly forward, but there should be slight deviations from that to keep the vehicle track straight on crowned or rough roads. The small deviations from a straight-forward position are called toe. On the other hand, when there’s excessive inward or outward toe, the tire wear can dramatically increase. Moreover, the fuel economy dials down because instead of rolling, the tires tend to rub against the road. When the tires deviate significantly from proper toe settings, it becomes too difficult to control the vehicle.
Camber is the extent to which the tires are tilted away from or toward the center of the vehicle. It is important to keep the tires exactly vertical to maximize braking and acceleration performance. On the other hand, when the top of the tires is slightly tiling toward the inside, it can render great handling because of the compensation of the force incurred when cornering. However, when the camber goes beyond the ideal degree, the edge of the tires takes all the load, greatly increasing wear. A badly misadjusted camber affects braking performance, creating a serious safety risk.
Adjustable only on the front tires, the caster is the space between the point at which the tires pivots when turned and where they touch the road. Imagine the front wheels of a shopping cart. When you push them forward, they automatically align themselves. So, it is important to have the correct caster settings to keep the vehicle track straight. Otherwise, it will become difficult to turn or unstable.
When to Check Suspension Alignment
Suspension alignment is one of the essential car maintenance procedures that you should not neglect. Once you start noticing that there are changes in your vehicle’s steering or handling, then it would be best to consider getting an alignment. Before deciding to get an alignment, it would also be ideal to ensure that the tires are properly inflated. In some cases, this does the trick and fixes the problem. However, if there notice that there are still problems with handling or steering, then it might be time for a suspension alignment.