Understanding Your Car’s Wheel Alignment

When you bring your vehicle to a body shop after a car collision, one of the issues the technician will check is your wheel alignment. It’s very common for an accident to throw off the wheel alignment. Even driving over a pothole or hitting a curb can adversely affect it. It’s important to maintain the proper wheel alignment for safety’s sake. A misaligned car can develop vibrations that you’ll notice in the steering wheel. Plus, wheel alignments can lead to uneven wear and tear, and poor vehicle performance. Here’s a look at some of the many factors that determine wheel alignment.


When you’re looking at your car from the side, the caster is the degree of tilt of the upper point of the steering axis. The tilt can be either positive (backward tilt) or negative (forward tilt). The vehicle height will affect the caster. For example, if there’s a great deal of weight in the trunk, the front suspension will have a positive caster.


Imagine yourself standing in front of your vehicle. Camber is the degree to which the wheels would tilt to either side. If the top of the wheel is tilting toward the outside of the vehicle, it has a positive camber. If the top of the wheel tilts to the inside, the camber is negative. If the camber is either too positive or too negative, the tires will wear out unevenly and prematurely.


Stand up and look down at your feet. Rotate your feet inward slightly so that the toes are leaning towards each other. If your feet were your tires, this inward tilt would be referred to as a positive toe. Rotate your feet so that the toes on each foot are pointing away from your body. On a car, this would be a negative toe. The toe of the wheels must be correct in order to prevent premature tire wear and steering instability.

Bring your car to B&L Automotive Repairs, Inc. for a total, post-accident evaluation. We are a certified collision center serving Chicago since 1978. Give us a call today at (773) 463-1622, and find out for yourself why so many Chicagoans choose us for their car repairs.

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