Vehicle Alignment and Wear

Bob Penkhus Automotive offers Front End Alignment and Four Wheel Alignment for cars and trucks, ensuring that you get as many miles as you can out of your tires. Wheel alignment can be affected by hitting pot holes or curbs, or from worn suspension components. Before every alignment, our ASE Certified Master Technicians will completely inspect the suspension of your vehicle to ensure a proper alignment. We use a state of the art alignment machine that uses lasers and levels to properly align the wheels of your vehicle.

Common symptoms of an improper wheel alignment can include:
  • An off-center steering wheel
  • Uneven tread wear on tires
  • Vehicle is drifting or pulling left or right
  • Excessive movement in the steering wheel with no vehicle reaction

What is the wheel alignment?

The wheel alignment is the process of checking and adjusting the angles of the wheels relative to each other and to the car body.
To perform the wheel alignment, the vehicle is placed on an alignment rack. Special sensors are mounted on each wheel. The computer controlled device measures the actual angles of the wheels. The technician adjusts the wheel angles, (called toe, camber, caster, etc.) that are adjustable, to the specifications. Before doing the wheel alignment, the technician will typically test drive the vehicle, adjust the tire pressure, as well as check the ride height and basic suspension and steering components (e.g ball joint, tie rod, strut, etc.). If any steering or suspension component is found to be bad, it should be replaced before doing the wheel alignment. After the alignment is done, you will usually get a printout showing the wheel angles before and after the alignment. Measurements that are within specifications are usually shown in green. The 4-wheel alignment is always the best option, as the 2-wheel alignment involves adjustment of only two (front or rear) tires.

Why the wheel alignment needs to be done.

The wheel alignment needs to be done because over time the wheel angles change. This happens as a result of deforming and wear of various rubber bushings in the vehicle suspension and sagging of the springs. Besides that, the wheel alignment needs to be checked after hitting large potholes and curbs, as well as after accidents. The wheel alignment also needs to be done after replacement of any major suspension or steering components. Similarly, it should be done after lowering or rising the suspension.

What are the benefits of doing the wheel alignment?

Your tires as well as suspension and steering components will last longer and your vehicle will handle better. You might notice that after the wheel alignment, the car holds the road better and feels more stable.
How often should the wheel alignment be done?

For most cars, there is no specific requirements. We will typically recommend doing the wheel alignment every two-three years. Often, the wheel alignment is recommended when new tires are installed. The alignment should be done more often if your car has wider tires or if it's a sporty car. From our experience, if you re-check the wheel alignment after a year driving, usually it will be slightly off. If you hit a large bump, the alignment will most likely be off.
How much does it cost to do the wheel alignment?

The prices vary between depending on the vehicle. You might be charged more if some of the adjustments are badly rusted or seized. For better results, look for a repair shop that has a newer, more advanced wheel alignment rack. On average, the wheel alignment takes from 40 minutes to an hour.