|JIM’S CORNER – AUTO REPAIR HELP|
by Jim Miller
Wheel alignment is a measurement of the relationship between certain suspension components, the tires and the rolling surface. Wheel alignment is essential for proper control of the vehicle, efficient steering and to maintain tire life. There are three main adjustments made when wheels are aligned: camber, caster, and toe-in. Camber is a measure of the outward or inward tilt of the wheels. Camber can be visualized by facing the front of the vehicle and imagining the top of the wheels leaning outward, this would be referred to as positive camber. If you were to imagine the top of the wheels leaning inward, this would be called negative camber. Camber is measured in degrees using special equipment. Too much negative camber causes wear on the inside of the tire. Too much positive camber can cause wear to the outside of the tire. Improper camber can also affect the proper steering of the vehicle as well.
Caster is the forward or rearward tilt of the steering axis. Simply put, if you were to stand facing the side of a vehicle and imagine a line extending down through the center of the front wheel, caster would be a measure of how far forward or rearward the line would tilt. If the line were to tilt towards the front of the vehicle, that would be referred to as negative caster. If the line were to tilt towards the rear of the vehicle, that would be referred to as positive caster. Caster is measured in degrees using special equipment. Improper caster settings can cause suspension component wear or damage and can affect steering and tire wear. Toe-in is a measure of the parallel alignment of the front wheels. The best way to visualize toe-in is to stand up and look down at your feet. Imagine each foot is a front tire and you are looking down at the top of a car. By slightly moving the front of your feet inward, towards each other, you would be imitating toe-in on the front wheels of a vehicle. Toe-in is measured in half degree increments. Incorrect toe-in can have adverse affects on the steering of a vehicle.
(Jim is a lifelong fan of Dodger Baseball and used to race sprint cars in the 1980s.)