Understanding Tyre Wear & Wheel Alignments
Tyre wear is one of the most common issues associated with misaligned wheels. As your tyres move away from standard specifications, it causes undue pressure on certain parts of your wheels, causing them to wear down in an unnatural fashion.
This might be due to an incident such as hitting a pot hole or simply by long-term wear and tear. Regardless of the causes, tyre wear and wheel alignments are issues that need to be regularly monitored and addressed.
To help you understand the different ways your tyres might wear, have a read of the three primary measurements associated with wheel alignment below. We’ll also run through some of the wear patterns that can indicate different issues with your alignment.
Camber is the angle of the tyre when looking at it front on – from the front of your vehicle. When the tyre is angled inwards at the top of the wheel (towards the vehicle) this is known as negative camber. On the other hand, when the tyre is angled outwards at the top (away from the vehicle) this is known as positive camber.
Both positive and negative camber suggest improper alignment in your tyres, which may have been caused by the wearing of suspension components such as ball joints and bearings.
Issues with Camber
When camber is off, there is an increased risk of experiencing camber wear – where one side of the tread is more worn than the centre. This can be caused by both positive and negative camber.
Toe alignment is the way your tyres are angled inwards or outwards when looking at them from above. When the tyres are pointing inwards at each other, this is known as toe-in alignment.
Conversely, if the tyres are pointing outwards away from each other, this is called toe-out. If you were standing on top of your car (and had x-ray vision) this is the way you would tell whether your vehicle has toe-in or toe-out alignment.
Issues with toe alignment
When toe setting is out, this brings a risk of ‘feathering’ which is where the tread of a tyre is smooth on one side and sharp on the other.
Caster is the angle of your steering axis when viewed from the side of your vehicle. Vehicle caster is important for balancing steering and increasing stability. For vehicles experiencing negative caster, you will notice that the steering axis will slant towards the front, while positive caster will see a tilt towards the rear.
Issues with Caster
While issues with your caster may not impact tyre wear as much camber or toe, there are other issues that may arise when your caster is off.
For instance, negative caster may encourage your steering to feel quite light. This, in turn, can make your car meander and make it difficult to drive in a straight line.
Conversely, positive caster can make your steering feel extra heavy, making it difficult to control particularly when going over bumps.
Signs you might need a wheel alignment
While ensuring your tyres don’t wear prematurely is important, there are also a range of other reasons to ensure your wheel alignment is spot on.
As well as excessive tyre wear, improperly aligned tyres can also cause issues such as a vibrating steering wheel, substandard steering and suspension, and a vehicle pulling to one side.
Not only are these things annoying, they also impact the driveability of your vehicle and may present safety hazards to yourself, your passengers and other road users.
Maximising your vehicle performance with state-of-the-art alignments
When it comes to safety and performance, it’s always better to focus on prevention rather than resolution. To ensure your vehicle or fleet continue to operate at maximum capacity, get in touch with the alignment experts at one of our Big Wheels Truck Alignment locations around Australia. Click here to locate your nearest store.