often do you have you car aligned? Probably more often than you need. According
to Pat Goss, host of the nationally syndicated radio show Goss Garage
and columnist for The Washington Post, alignment is not a part of regular maintenance.
If you take the time to learn what an alignment involves, you will be less likely
to get ripped-off.
are two common types of alignment: thrust-angle and four-wheel. Thrust-angle uses
the rear wheels of your car to align the front wheels. This is performed only
when the alignment equipment says the rear wheels already are aligned. If your
rear wheels arent already aligned correctly, a four-wheel alignment is performed,
first aligning the rear wheels, and then performing the thrust-angle alignment.
A thrust-angle alignment can cost between $49 and $79, and a four-wheel alignment
from $89 up.
takes a lot to knock your car out of alignment; your average run-of-the-mill pothole
wont do it.
have to actually bend steel to affect alignment, Goss said. He admits that
one of the common misconceptions occurs in the repair shop when customers are
given the choice between the cheaper thrust-angle alignment and the
premium four-wheel alignment, when in fact your car might need only
the front tires aligned.
tip: a repair shop cant tell what type of alignment you need until they
hook it up to their machines, so they cant charge you for a four-wheel alignment
until they have checked it out.
should you align your wheels? When you steering has an obvious pull, if your car
has been in an accident, or if tire wear is uneven.
make sure you have it done right. A proper wheel alignment should take about an
hour and a half. If youre only in the waiting room for 10 minutes, it probably
wasnt done right. A proper alignment involves aligning three angles: caster,
camber, and toe-in. Some shops do a quick toe-in, which will make your steering
feel more exact, but wont actually align the tires the way they were intended.
Have an alignment done by a trusted technician who wont charge you for an
unnecessary four-wheel alignment.
becoming more familiar with the alignment process you wont waste money on
unnecessary repairs. Wondering what to spend that extra cash on? Try an oil change
or a car wash.
so, the Tire Industry Safety Council reminds us that having properly aligned wheels
can increase the life of your tires. The Council offers a free publication entitled,
Motorists Tire Care and Safety Guide which contains the latest tire
care and safety information for cars and light trucks. To order the guide, send
a SASE to: Tire Industry Safety Council, P.O. Box 3147, Medina, OH 44258.