Misaligned wheels are a common issue faced by vehicle owners. As you drive, your wheels take a beating. While your tires are designed to absorb the majority of th
e bumps on the road, they can’t function to the best of their ability if your wheels are not lined up correctly. Continuing to drive on wheels that are not correctly aligned can cause your tires to wear unevenly and negatively affect your driving.
Hogan & Sons tire and auto shop is here to help keep your vehicle straight through our wh
eel alignment service. Our team of ASE-Certified mechanics will have your wheels back in the correct position and spinning properly again.
What is Wheel Alignment?
Each vehicle requires a specific alignment for optimal functionality. While the wheels may look straight to the naked eye, even a small misalignment can make a big difference. Proper alignment means the wheels can function correctly.
Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto wheel alignment corrects the tiny errors in alignment caused by natural road hazards. Whether it’s hitting curbs, potholes, or bumpy roads, your car will need wheel alignment from time to time, especially if it pulls to one side or you notice driving issues.
Wheel alignment service from Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto helps give you the best driving experience. With properly aligned wheels, your car or truck operates correctly, rides more smoothly, and goes in the right direction.
At first glance, the wheels on your vehicle may look straight and vertical. While this may seem like a logical layout, your tires are actually at slight angles to improve performance. Three types of angles are involved in wheel alignment: camber, caster, and toe. Each of these measurements has a precise location for optimal tire performance.
The camber angle is associated with how well your car or truck handles corners and turns. If you are looking at a tire from behind a vehicle, the camber is the tilt of the tire. More specifically, the camber is the vertical-axis tilt. If your wheels had a neutral camber, the tires would not grip the road evenly and would become distorted over time.
Camber can be either positive or negative. A positive camber occurs when the top of the tire is leaning away from the car. Inversely, a negative camber is when the top of the tire leans toward the vehicle. Each vehicle has predetermined camber angles. A negative camber generally helps the car control driving and turn more efficiently. If your vehicle has a tight turn radius, it’s because you have a strong negative camber.
When the camber is positive, it can mean that your vehicle may not take curves as tightly as a properly aligned vehicle. While some longer vehicles may already have a wider turn to them, the camber of the wheels helps to balance that out. On the other hand, if the camber is excessively negative, it can lead to unpredictable or disproportionate turns to your steering wheel motion.
The second angle for a wheel alignment is the caster angle. The caster determines the vertical steering axis. As you turn, you may notice that your steering wheel will return to the forward position when you release the wheel. This self-straightening is because of the caster angle. On each wheel, the caster angle is designed to keep the wheel facing the correct direction.
You can think of the caster angle as the instrument that determines the forward or backward direction of the vehicle. When the caster angle is corrected through our wheel alignment service, your car will drive straight when you are not touching the wheel. The caster must be in just the right position and is a major contributor to how well your vehicle drives.
Like the camber, the caster has both negative and positive angles. A negative caster occurs when the caster line slopes toward the vehicle’s front. While a negative caster can help you to turn less while making a curve, it could also cause drifting to one side if not in the exact position determined by the manufacturer.
A positive caster occurs when the caster line is sloped away from the front of the vehicle. With correct car alignment, a positive caster can help improve your vehicle’s responsiveness. This is especially seen at higher speeds when you need increased stability. However, the increase in stability may cause you to have to turn the steering wheel more while turning.
The toe alignment is the most sensitive of the three main alignment angles. The toe is the direction and angle that the front tires are pointing. Unlike the caster and camber, the toe is inverted for both of the front tires, which means they mirror each other. This angle is essential for alignment as it determines the direction of the wheels in reference to the center of the vehicle.
Put another way, the toe is how much the tires are pointed toward or away from the centerline of your car or truck. The angle at which the tires are pointing can either be a toe-in angle or a toe-out angle. Much like the other angles needed for car alignment, the toe angle is determined by the manufacturer and is an extremely precise measurement.
In a toe-out angle, the front of the tires is pointed away from the center of the vehicle. There can be some benefits to a toe-out angle. Your car may need a toe-out angle to increase grip and acceleration. Because the tires have more surface area on the road, they can grip the road more securely, which will aid in handling and acceleration. However, a toe-out angle can also decrease the overall top speed of the vehicle. Because the wheel alignment is angled away from the center of the vehicle, the wheels are working slightly against the center of the vehicle, which results in a lower top speed.
A tow-in angle is when the front of the tires is pointing toward the center of the vehicle. Most manufacturers recommend at least a slight toe-in angle to maximize handling and performance. When the front of the wheels is pointing toward the center of the vehicle, they are positioned to balance handling and acceleration. With the tires pointing inward, your vehicle has the best grip, handling, and stability. This angle also helps your car to drive straight when you are not touching the steering wheel.
Why You Need Routine Wheel Alignment
A regular alignment routine has several benefits. Even slight misalignments can vastly decrease the performance of your tires and affect your driving experience. Every time you hit a pothole or other road hazard, your wheels can move and become misaligned. When this happens, your car’s performance is affected, and your tires become less effective.
Proper wheel alignment will also protect your tires. As a significant investment in your vehicle, your tires require special attention to last. When your wheels are not correctly aligned, your tires will wear down unevenly. This can drastically decrease your tires’ lifespan and cause you to visit a tire shop sooner than you should.
Even small errors in the alignment can lead to significant wear on your tires. In addition, incorrectly aligned wheels will cause your driving experience to be skewed. These issues may be manifested in any of the following ways:
- Pulling to one side while driving
- Heavy vibrations when turning
- Excessive motion while turning
- Disproportionate turn radius
- Lack of control while turning
- The steering wheel is not in the upright position
What to Expect from a Car Alignment from Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto
Your wheel alignment is an important part of regular maintenance on your vehicle. We go far beyond the bare minimum at Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto. Not only will we determine and correct the proper angles for your wheels, but we’ll also have your tires inspected for correct air pressure and abnormal wear.
While you are here, we can install new tires or perform your tire balancing or tire rotation. We make it as convenient as possible to have all your auto care in one place. If you are looking for a new alignment shop, book your appointment for a wheel alignment today.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s easy to assume that your vehicle’s wheels are perfectly aligned, but that’s probably not the case. Over time, any car’s tires can go out of alignment—whether its driver notices or not. But even seemingly minor misalignments can eventually cause significant problems, making it essential to take this issue seriously.
When you’re dealing with tire alignment problems, it’s crucial to take your car or truck to a reliable car alignment shop like Hogan & Sons for wheel alignment services. Our qualified technicians can carefully adjust the angle of your tires to make sure they are exactly where they should be. At the same time, we’ll look closely at your tires and suspension to make sure you aren’t at risk of encountering any other tire-related problems.
If you haven’t given much thought to wheel alignments before, you might think that these services don’t have much of an impact on your driving experience. However, that’s not the case. Keeping your wheels perfectly aligned is necessary to ensure an even tire wear and avoid stress on your suspension.
These aren’t the only benefits that come with regular tire alignments. When you prioritize this service, you’ll also save money in the long run, thanks to improved gas mileage and longer-lasting tires.
Don’t worry too much if your tires are out of alignment—it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. No matter how you drive, your car’s suspension will start to settle, and its springs and bushings will become worn. These processes can affect your wheel alignment.
However, everyday driving mishaps can throw your wheels out of alignment faster than they normally would. When you drive over a pothole, hit a curb, or go over a bump in the road, the resulting impact may affect the alignment of your wheels. Other factors contributing to misalignment include driving with heavy loads, minor and major collisions, and aggressive driving.
Not all wheel alignments are the same, so it’s crucial to find an alignment shop that can determine what fix best fits your needs. These are the three main types of tire alignments:
- In a “standard” or front-end alignment, we will adjust your car’s front tires to ensure they’re parallel to the vehicle’s center. That can be a simple, quick fix, but it’s not quite as accurate as other alignment options. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend front-end alignments for current-model vehicles.
- If your vehicle has no adjustable rear suspension, a thrust alignment is the most accurate option available. When you have this type of alignment done, your vehicle’s front tires will be adjusted to closely match the thrust line (i.e., the average of where your back two wheels are pointing).
- For vehicles that do have adjustable rear suspension, we can provide four-wheel alignment services. As the service’s name suggests, we’ll look at all four tires and make sure they’re perfectly aligned.
Since four-wheel drive and four-wheel alignment have such similar names, it’s easy to see why many drivers assume they won’t benefit from four-wheel alignment if their vehicle doesn’t have 4WD. But that’s not the case—even if you have front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, most modern cars are built with four-wheel alignment in mind. Since this is the most accurate tire alignment service available, we’d recommend choosing four-wheel alignment for your vehicle whenever possible.
These terms refer to two completely different services. While wheel alignment focuses on the direction your tires are pointing in, tire balancing deals with how much these wheels weigh. When you take your car or truck in for tire balancing, a technician will attach small weights to your tires to distribute weight evenly throughout your vehicle.
As the area’s number one choice for tire services, Hogan & Sons can take care of your tire balancing needs as well. We also offer tire rotation and countless other tire and auto repair services.
If you’ve just bought new tires, now’s the perfect time to get a wheel alignment. That way you can rest easy knowing your tires will last a long time while performing the way they should.
Of course, now isn’t the only time you can have your wheel alignment checked. Ideally, you should take your vehicle to a trustworthy alignment shop at least once a year (or twice a year if you often drive on rugged roads). It’s also wise to check your wheel alignment when you:
- Hit a curb, pothole, or animal.
- Notice uneven tire wear.
- Get in any sort of traffic accident.
- Notice your steering wheel veering in one direction.
- Feel vibration when you’re steering.
It’s hard to say, since the answer depends on the underlying cause of this problem. If your steering wheel is tilting towards one direction solely because of misaligned wheels, then getting your tires balanced should also bring your steering wheel back into place.
That said, tire alignment issues aren’t the only cause of crooked steering wheels. You may also be dealing with other problems, such as worn-out parts in your suspension and steering systems. Luckily, we can catch these problems during the inspections we perform as part of our tire alignment services.
The members of the Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto team aren’t new to the world of tire maintenance and auto repair. In fact, our business has been around since 1984, when our first location in Leesburg, VA opened. We’ve been serving the automotive needs of people in northern Virginia ever since, building a solid reputation along the way thanks to our attention to detail and our focus on quality customer service.
Hogan & Sons is also well-known for the variety of services we offer, including our wheel alignments. To be successful, tire alignments need to be done by technicians who can deliver absolute precision every time. That’s something we can do for you—and something we’ve already been doing for three decades.
Every wheel alignment is different, so your price will depend on several factors. These include the alignment service you need, what type of vehicle you drive, and its condition. Hogan & Sons can offer quotes for our services before we begin any work to make life easier for you. Fill out our online request form today!
This question is impossible to answer here since we don’t know your specific situation. However, your car’s user manual should be able to shed some light on the situation—if you’re still confused, talk to a Hogan & Sons representative for assistance.
Our chain of auto shops currently serves seven northern Virginia communities, including Fairfax, Winchester, Sterling, and many others. You can find the Hogan & Sons location closest to you on our locations page.
At Hogan & Sons, we believe wheel alignment services should be accessible and affordable to everyone in northern Virginia. You can save money on your next tire alignment appointment when you choose us for the job—just look at our wheel alignment coupons before you stop by!