The Fifth Wheel: Wheel Alignment and Vehicle Steering Ability
Car Steering and Wheel Alignment
In order for your auto to operate, all five wheels need to work together properly. That is, the four wheels that make contact with the road must not only work well with each other, but also with the steering wheel. Since 1993, West Automotive Group in El Cajon, California, has been steering customers straight regardless of their vehicle maintenance or repair needs. If you’re concerned about your wheel alignment or steering, trust your auto to our ASE and ATRA certified technicians.
How the Steering Wheel Talks to the Rest of Your Car
Your auto’s steering works using angles. As a driver, you choose a direction by the angle at which you hold the steering wheel–straight, slightly to the right, sharply to the right, etc. The four wheels also move at angles to turn the vehicle in the direction it should go. Obviously, the relationship between the two is critically important to your ability to control your car.
To accomplish this, most modern autos use rack-and-pinion steering. The steering wheel sits at one end of a shaft, and the other end attaches to the pinion, a round gear. This gear connects to the rack, which is a rod scored with notches that reaches across the car between the left and right front wheels. The pinion is able to roll from notch to notch as you turn the steering wheel, pushing the rod one way or the other. As the rod is pushed, the wheels move.
The ability of the steering mechanism to act on the wheels is only as good as the wheel alignment. This is the relationship of the wheels and axles to each other and the vehicle. Proper alignment angles keep your tires in adequate contact with the road and helps you maintain your ability to control your car. Also, it prevents unnecessary wear on your tires and other auto components.
The type of vehicle you own as well as any particular noted issues determines the kind of alignment you need. Major angles to be measured and adjusted are camber, caster, toe, and thrust. Camber refers to left and right tilt as viewed from the front, while caster is the slope of a perceived line through the upper and lower ball joints. Toe measures the difference in distance between the front and rear of the front tires, and thrust speaks of the relationship between the front wheels and rear axle.
Your Local Wheel Alignment and Steering Specialist
Your driving experience is better when your auto handles well, but it’s even more important that your vehicle handles safely. Steer your car into West Automotive Group to check or repair your wheel alignment today.