Recently Fuzz Townshend and Car SOS used an Absolute Alignment Bluetooth Pro wheel aligner to re-set their project Evo - and it couldn't have been simpler! He gives an excellent description of how wheel alignment affects a car. Sit back and enjoy...
Car SOS is one of the most popular motoring shows on the TV at the moment, and with us all in lockdown it's a reminder of great times past - and yet to come of course. If you haven't seen it, the premise is that Fuzz and his sidekick Tim Shaw secretly taking on restoration projects that have stalled due to the owner having an illness or other compromnised circumstance. The owner is "set up", normally by their family, and the restored pride and joy is revealed in fun denoument. It's feelgood TV, and Absolute Alignment is one of many suppliers delignthed to help.
The serious point brought out by this film is that wheel alignment is vital - as Absolute Alignment says "Stay Safe, Stay Legal, Save Money." You can read about the implications of wheel alignment on your wallet in a previous Parallel Lines. Here, Fuzz is interested in the effect on handling.
"Wheel alignment" was often called "tracking" in the past, and that gives an idea as to its importance in vehicle handling. Imagine driving a car with all four wheels pointing a slightly different direction - it will be all over the place! But sadly that's what we find all too often. A recent survery by a major tyre manufacturer found that 80% of a random sample of vehicles had wheel alignment issues. That means 8 out of 10 cars do not steer or hold the road in the way they were designed.
Vehicle alignment looks at more than the "tracking", it measures the angle of the tyre on the road and gives the garage's technicians instructions on how to maximise the tyre's footprint and thereby grip. For instance, if your wheel is leaning in too much at the top (negative camber), in extremis only the inside edge of the tyre will have full contact with the road. This will prematurely wear out the inside edge and just as importantly means there's much less rubber on the road and the car will be unstable in wet weather. Even in the dry it will be very "pointy" and could catch out an unwary driver. Many racing cars run extreme camber angles, so that as they roll there is more rubber placed on the road - unfotunately at everyday road speeds there is unlikely to be enough roll to get to that position!
Very important on modern cars is the rear "thrust angle". This measures the angle of the rear axle to the body, and in the old days resulted in vehicles "crabbing" down the road with the body pointing away from the direction of travel. Imagine that! Thankfully modern cars are very adjustable and this can be engineered out by adjustment or replacement of damaged parts.
So beyond the basic message of "Stay Safe, Stay Legal, Save Money" there is a huge road safety implication in not having correct wheel alignment. The message is clear - your car will handle better and more safely if it is adjusted within manufacturer's tolerances. As Fuzz says, "it's all green."