Suspension and Steering Systems
The primary function of your cars suspension and steering systems is to allow the wheels to move independently of the car, while keeping it "suspended" and stable. Any play or uncontrolled motion in these systems results in a deterioration of handling and accelerated tire wear. Vehicle alignment is closely tied to the condition of the suspension and steering systems.
Worn or loose components affect the ability to control the toe angle, and may result in a loss of directional stability and accelerated tire wear. The main components of a Conventional system are:
1. Steering Gear Box
2. Center Link
3. Pitman Arm
4. Idler Arm
5. Tie Rods
The main components of a Rack and Pinion steering system are:
6. Rack and Pinion Assembly
7. Bellows Boots
8. Tie Rods
Worn or loose components affect the suspension systems ability to control motion and alignment angles, resulting in a deterioration of vehicle handling and stability, and accelerated tire wear. The main components of the suspension system are:
9. Control Arms
10. Ball Joints
11. Springs (Coil or Leaf)
12. Shock Absorbers
Tires & Wheels: Tire Rotation
Description: Tire rotation refers to the regular practice of switching the position of each tire on the car.
Purpose: Tire rotation helps to equalize tread wear and is critical to gain the maximum life from your tire investment.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Refer to your owner's manual for the recommended rotation interval and pattern; generally a rotation interval of 6,000 miles is recommended. The rotation pattern varies with different makes and models, which shows the tire locations during rotation. Some vehicles have different size tires on the front and back or directional tires. This limits the locations that a tire may take on the vehicle. When in doubt, check the owner's manual or consult a professional technician for guidance. Tire rotation time also offers a good opportunity to have the tires and wheels balanced. It's another step you can take to maximize your tire investment.
Wheel Balance and Alignment
Wheel alignment is the position of the wheels relative to your car. When properly aligned, the wheels point in the right direction. Without proper alignment, the wheels resist your steering commands, as well as each other. Alignment also affects gas mileage and tire wear. If your tires are pointed in different directions, they fight against each other and can cause tread wear.
Computerized alignment equipment is used to measure all alignment angles on today's cars. These include both adjustable and non-adjustable angles. (Non-adjustable angles require repair or replacement of the suspension component.)
Often confused with wheel alignment, a properly balanced wheel is a beautiful, perfectly tuned wheel-tire combination. This is accomplished by placing measured lead weights on the opposite side of the "heavy spot"—the noticeable tread wear on your unbalanced tire.
How do I know if I need my wheels balanced?
Is your vehicle vibrating at certain speeds, say, between 50 and 70 mph? If so, chances are your wheel is out of balance. One section of your tire is heavier than the other because it's endured more exposure to the friction and heat of the road. Come in for prompt, professional service—most people are very satisfied with the difference such a simple and inexpensive procedure makes.
Look for these signs, and if you find either one, come see us:
- Scalloped, erratic wear pattern on tires.
- Vibration in steering wheel, seat, or floorboard at certain speeds.