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Wheel Alignment Diagnostics in Southampton and Hampshire

For optimum vehicle handling, even tyre wear, safer stopping distances, increased fuel economy, reduced driver fatigue and maximum investment in your next tyre purchase, the correct wheel alignment settings for your car should be set. We provide wheel alignment diagnostics in Southampton that help you in all of these areas.

A recent survey indicated that more than eight out of every ten cars checked required a wheel alignment adjustment. How will you know if you have a potential wheel alignment issue? Will you notice from the condition of the tyres or the way your vehicle handles?

The first thing we recommend is that vehicle owners in Southampton carry out a physical check on their wheel alignment on a regular basis. See the illustrations (Fig 1 and Fig 2).

Questions you may need to ask yourself include:

1) Is your steering wheel straight when you drive?
2) Does your car pull or drift to the left or right?
3) Are you experiencing uneven tyre wear?
4) Does your car understeer or oversteer?
5) Do the tyres squeal on roundabouts?
6) Does your car wander when driving in a straight line?

If you have any of these symptoms, you could have a problem that can be addressed with a four-wheel alignment check. Diagnostics are used at our Southampton premises to check important alignment elements such as the camber and Castor angle.

Driver Fatigue

Look at the illustration below (Fig 3). If a car is constantly trying to pull left or right, the driver has to correct this pull constantly. Over time, this has an effect on concentration. Over long journeys, this could lead to motoring mistakes and errors.

Fuel Consumption

Wheel alignment settings are integrated into the vehicle geometry to give the most comfortable ride with optimum road handling. This achieves the lowest rolling resistance for your tyres. With the correct camber and Castor angle setting on their vehicles, road users in Southampton and Hampshire will achieve the best fuel consumption figures.

Tyres

The cost of tyres is a constant investment for the modern motorist. Most people do not understand that the modern tyre is a technical and integral part of the vehicle. For the tyre to work to its full design potential, the correct alignment settings for the vehicle must be used. Diagnostics optimise the life in tyres for our Southampton clients.

Understeer / Oversteer

These words are frequently used by motoring journalists. It all sounds very technical and most of us do not understand what they actually mean. Understeer occurs when the car does not turn enough and has the effect of wanting to go straight on.

Oversteer is the opposite. It occurs when the car turns tighter than intended and oversteer frequently leads to spinning. Both of these conditions are symptoms of misalignment (Fig 4 and Fig 5). Our Southampton workshop uses diagnostics to identify them both.

Wheel Alignment Angles

Wheel alignment angles have an important role to play in the performance of a motor vehicle. Diagnostics are used to ensure all geometry settings are correct. Below, the five most important angles are explained:

Front Toe

Front toe relates to the way the width of the track varies from the front to the rear sections of the front wheels (Fig 1). Viewed from above, the front road wheels will be either pointing towards the centre line of the vehicle or away from it.

If the wheels are pointing away from the centre line, this is referred to as Toe Out (also called Negative Toe). If the wheels point towards the centre line, it is called Toe In (also called Positive Toe)

These settings are built into the steering geometry to keep tyre wear to a minimum and to counteract the tensions built up by the geometry angles. If these angles are not set equally to the centre line, this will be highlighted as the steering wheel not being straight. We provide diagnostics in Southampton to rectify all geometry issues.

Rear Toe

Again, the rear toe on a vehicle is set to minimise tyre wear. It is also used to assist straight-line stability. Wheels need to be set equal on both sides of the vehicle otherwise a thrust angle is introduced. The effect of this will be uneven tyre wear and the steering wheel will not be straight (Fig 2).

Thrust Line

Thrust Line is the angle of the centre line in relation to the rear axle or the theoretical rear axle. If this angle is set at 90 degrees, it will affect the relationship between the front and rear wheels. The car will drift either left or right and this is indicated by the steering wheel position (Fig 3).

Camber Angle

Camber is the angle of the road wheel measured vertically. Negative camber angle occurs when the top of the wheel is leaning into the vehicle (Fig 4). Positive camber angle occurs when the top of the road wheel is leaning away from the vehicle.

This angle is set to assist the vehicle when cornering and to assist straight-line stability. The camber angle must be equal either side of the vehicle. If not, the vehicle will pull or drift either left or right. If the camber is not set correctly, tyres will show wear on just one side.

Too much negative camber angle will wear the inside edge of the tyre whereas too much positive camber will wear the outside edge of the tyre. If you require a further explanation on camber angles, call in to see us at our Southampton Premises today.

Castor Angle

The Castor angle in a car simulates the angle of the forks on a pushbike. It is designed to give the vehicle straight-line stability. Your Castor angle is only adjustable in a few vehicles. This means that this particular angle is often overlooked on a problem vehicle. This is why we always recommend diagnostics at our friendly workshop in Southampton.

The cause of Castor angle problems is usually accident damage. Castor angles do not need to be the same because the effects of the road vary. Camber can influence the vehicle drifting left or right. In the UK, cars are often set with the left Castor slightly higher than the right to compensate for the road camber (Fig 5).

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