Keeping an eye on your tyre tracking is an integral part to maintaining your car. Also known as wheel alignment, your tyre tracking simply refers to the angles at which your tyres sit in relation to the road. There are many ways that tyre tracking can affect your vehicle, and poorly aligned tyres will have a negative effect on several parts of your vehicle, all at once. The good news is that contrary to popular belief, a wheel realignment is a quick fix which can save you a lot of money. In fact, if you go to a specialist mechanic like Elite Direct you can be in and out in just half an hour.
There’s a common misconception among motorists that wheel misalignment and wheel balancing are the same thing. This is not the case – wheel balancing is simply making sure the wheels spin without vibration. Wheel misalignment however, is all about the direction in which your tyres point. Every time you hit the kerb or go over a nasty pot hole you can knock your wheels ever so slightly out of alignment. Do this enough times and your wheels will start to ‘toe in’ or ‘toe out’ to give it the trade term, or start to point in a positive or negative camber. When your tyres are in any of these positions they won’t be sitting parallel and flush with the road, as the manufacturer had engineered when they built the car. This poor alignment can also be caused by faulty or poorly fit suspension, so next time you have upper springs replaced, make sure you get your tracking checked, too, as you leave the garage. Simply hold your steering wheel at a 12 o’clock position and make sure that the car drives in a straight line. If it does, then your wheels are aligned correctly, but if not, you’ll need to get the alignment sorted out.
So what does poor tyre tracking mean to you as a driver? If like us you’re a fan of keeping the cost of motoring down, your tracking should mean a lot. If the top of your wheels are pointing out, it means that the bottom of your wheels are pointing in. This, in turn, means that your tyres are going to wear down at an uneven and unusual rate. Unless you want to buy more tyres more often, you should get your alignment fixed, with misaligned wheels potentially reducing the life of your tyre by up to 25 per cent. On top of this, when driving your car on an unusual surface with poorly tracked wheels, you’re likely to experience a less comfortable ride, and one that could contribute to the use of up to ten per cent more fuel. Tyre tracking affects more than just your wallet though, it can be a safety issue, too, as the tyres will have less contact with the road, affecting steering, stability and your ability to drive safely.
Fortunately tyre tracking is remarkably easy to fix, and with the right garage doing it, you can have all of your tyre angles checked and fixed in as little as 30 minutes, making your toes point forward, your camber neutral and your caster, the position of your steering axis as viewed from the side of your car, set back to zero degrees. If you’ve noticed any uneven wear on your tyres, or the car doesn’t feel as surefooted as it once did, make sure you get your alignment checked as soon as possible.