Wheel Alignment and Balancing
Wheel Alignment and Balancing

Wheel Alignment and Balancing

September 5, 2020
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When we go for general maintenance service of our vehicle, there is always one thing which is mostly recommended to go for, also if not done can lead to the car behaving abnormally like pulling on one side of the road when we let off our hands from the steering wheel.

You must have guessed it from the hints above, Yes it is WHEEL ALIGNMENT AND BALANCING. 

We know that we need it but we don’t know why we really need it. If you are also in the same phase, then don’t worry, we are going to cover wheel alignment and balancing in this blog.

What is Wheel Alignment & Balancing?

Wheel Alignment is defined as aligning the wheels with respect to each other to reduce tire wear and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without “pulling” to one side). Alignment angles can also be altered beyond the maker’s specifications to obtain a specific handling characteristic. The purpose of these adjustments is to maximize tire life. 

Wheel Balancing is defined as the process of balancing the weight of a tire and wheel assembly so that it travels evenly at high speeds. The main purpose of balancing a wheel is so as to get rid of all the vibrations occurring at highway speeds which can be felt on the steering wheel as well as seat. 

Terms used during a wheel alignment:

After we know what is wheel alignment & balancing, let us take a look at some terms which are widely used in these –

Camber –  It is the inclining of the wheels from the imaginary line which is perpendicular to the ground when seen from the front of the vehicle. At the point when the wheels tilt outward at the top, the camber is supposed to be positive (+). At the point when the wheel inclines internal at the top, the camber is supposed to be negative (-). The measure of tilt is estimated in degrees from the vertical line.

Let us see the effects of CAMBER – 

  1. If there is too much difference in angles between the wheels with respect to each other, it will lead to a pulling of the car to the side where there is a more positive camber. 
  2. If there is too much negative camber, it will result in premature wear on the inside of the tire and can cause excessive wear on the suspension parts.
  3. If there is too much positive camber, it will result in premature wear on the outside of the tire and can cause excessive wear on the suspension parts.

Caster – It is the inclining of the uppermost point of the steering axis either forward or backward (when seen from the side of the vehicle). The backward tilt of the steering axis is positive (+) and a forward tilt is negative (-). Caster impacts directional control of the steering however it doesn’t influence the tire wear and it is the only thing that isn’t customizable in the vehicle. Over-burdening the vehicle or a weak or sagging rear spring will also affect the Caster of the vehicle. If the rear of the vehicle is higher than its designated trim height, the front suspension moves to a less positive caster.

 With too little positive caster, steering may be touchy at high speed and wheel returnability may be diminished when coming out of a turn. If one wheel has a more positive caster than the other, that wheel will pull toward the center of the vehicle. This condition will cause the vehicle to pull or lead to the side with the least amount of positive caster.

Let us see the effects of CASTER – 

  1. If there is too much negative caster, it will increase the steering effort on the car. 
  2. If there is too much positive caster, it will reduce the steering stability of the car at high speeds.

TOE – It is a measurement of the angle between the wheel and the vehicle’s longitudinal axis. When the wheels are turned in, the toe is positive (+). When the wheels are turned out, the toe is negative (-). The main Purpose of Toe is to make sure that wheels roll parallel to each other. Inappropriate toe adjustment will cause untimely tire wear and cause steering instability.

Let us see the effects of TOE – 

  1. If there is too much positive toe, it will lead to more scrubbing of the outer portion of the tire.
  2. If there is too much negative toe, it will lead to more scrubbing of the inner portion of the tire.

To give you a better understanding of these aspects, let us check the factory specs of TATA SAFARI alignment from manual 

CAMBER –  0(degree) + 30′ 

CASTER- 3(degree) + 30′ 

TOE- 2-5 mm 

LH TO RH VARIATION OF CASTER TO BE WITHIN- 45′ 

LH TO RH VARIATION OF CAMBER TO BE WITHIN- 30′ 

Apart from these terms there are many other terms which are in connection with these terms like Steering Axis Inclination (SAI), Included Angle, Scrub Radius, Riding Height, Thrust Angle, Steering Center, Toe Out on Turns which we will cover in a future blog.  

Like this blog? Do tell us what you think about this blog in the comment section as well as forums. 

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