Correctly adjusted tracking provides stability
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If any of the above mentioned incidents happened, you should not hesitate and have a wheel alignment carried out by a specialist. The change in the axle geometry can lead to a whole bundle of complications which all have a negative impact on driving safety and tyre wear.
If the camber changes into positive or negative, this affects the bearing surfaces of the tyres and thus the curve stability of the car.In order to allow a car to travel exactly straight and under precise control, the wheels must always be as perpendicular as possible to the road under all driving conditions. The parallel running direction is called the track, the angle of the vertical axis as the fall. Only if the track and camber values are correctly adjusted, the tyres use the maximum footprint and ensure a safe driving behavior. If the track is adjusted on one side, the car pulls left or right. Moreover, in the case of left-hand curves, it is different from that in the right-hand curves. The lintel, on the other hand, acts on the bearing surfaces of the tyres. If, for example, the camber is set negative (the wheel tends to the top of the vehicle), the lateral forces increase in fast-running curves. The straight drive and the braking distance are simultaneously adversely affected. If the lintel has moved into the positive and the wheel tends to move up from the car, the curve stability of the car will deteriorate as the contact area of the tyres will further decrease in fast corners.
Track setting: Toe-in and Toe-out
At the manufacturer, the track on front and rear axles is often not parallel. Here you distinguish between toe-in and toe-out. Toe-in means that the front part of the wheels is closer together than the rear one. The right wheel is thus turning a little to the left, the left wheel corresponding to the right. Depending on the manufacturer and the driven axle, the angle of the toe-in of the rear axle is between 0 ° and 5 ° in most cars (at 0 °, the wheels are absolutely parallel to each other).Toe-out means that the rear ends of the wheels are closer together than the front ones. The right wheel is thus slightly steered to the right and the left wheel to the left. At the front axle, the forward or toe-out is usually in a range of maximum 3 ° each. If the angle of the forward or toe track on the two wheels of an axle is not exactly the same, the straight run suffers less. The steering forces of the respective wheels cancel each other only when the front and toe are correctly adjusted.Due to the respective chassis geometry and the rolling resistance of the tyres, the wheels of a car have the tendency to run apart. This tendency can be overcome by a slight toe-in. Even the straight run is favored by the forces of an axis acting against each other during toe-in. The disadvantage of toe-in is a lower top speed and increased tyre wear. Also the steering behavior and the curve stability are influenced by the forward and toe-in.
Less wear, more safety
In particular, the tyres suffer from a misaligned axle geometry. They are run unevenly and tend to form "saw-teeth" - small patches are formed in the tyre profile, which can lead to a sharp increase in the rolling noise. Since the contact surface of the tyres is not optimal, the braking distance also deteriorates. In addition, there is an increased wear on the wheel suspension, springs and shock absorbers as well as an increased fuel consumption as an additional cost factor. A further problem area, which is added to modern cars, is the electronic assistance systems. For example, the tracking and distance assistant are calibrated to the respective chassis setting. If the parameters of the landing gear change, the electronic assistants can no longer perform their task correctly.
When is a wheel alignment required?
A look at the tyre tread says a lot: One-way worn tyres reveal a faulty steering geometry.A wrong axis setting is indicated by an oblique steering wheel, rumbling chassis noise or a squeal that sounds in curves. Also a look at the tyres can give you information. At least twice a year, the tyres should be checked during the seasonal tyre change. If they are worn unevenly, or if a tyre has stronger wear marks than the second tyre mounted on the same axle, this indicates an adjusted track or a faulty fall. It is also possible to notice an obscured track when the car is moving to the right or to the left, or by a "spongy" steering feeling. On the other hand, an inconspicuous driving behavior does not rule out a faulty setting in the chassis. Wheel alignment is also necessary after working on the chassis. If lowering springs or other shock absorbers have been installed or parts of the steering have been repaired, an axle measurement is carried out. The same applies after the change of cross-braces, tie rods (heads) and sometimes also when exchanging a stabilizer. Even after mounting tyres in a different dimension, the assembly of larger aluminium rims or as a precautionary measure every two years, a wheel alignment is recommended.
How is it done?
Electronic Wheel Alignment: The computer records the values of lane and fall.Correct and accurate wheel alignment can be carried out by workshops which have an axis measuring computer. Since the introduction of modern multi-link axles, which have very low tolerances, an optical wheel alignment with mirrors is no longer accurate enough. Two methods or devices are used which can read out different chassis parameters. The most widely used is the laser wheel alignment. Here, sensors are mounted on each wheel, which adjust their position absolutely as well as among themselves. The result is either output in actual values or directly compared to the target values of the respective vehicle in a computer and displayed graphically. Depending on the age and type of the vehicle, an axle measurement with this method takes between 30 minutes and two hours
Another method works with reflectors with small points mounted on the wheels, whose position is then captured by a camera and converted into a 3D model. As a rule, this 3D alignment takes only a few minutes. If a deviation of the wheel geometry is determined with one of the two measuring methods, a new adjustment is performed, for example, on the tie rods. In the event of a defect, the damage will be repaired.