Most people think that if you want to get your vehicle’s alignment checked you need to take it to the pros. Depending on how comfortable you are with doing auto work, that might be true, but we wanted to give you the option and teach you how to check your alignment at home!
Theoretically, all four wheels should be vertical to the ground and parallel to each other, right? However, when the vehicle starts pulling to one side – or after a hard impact with a curb – most drivers suspect that the wheels might be out of alignment. Another good sign that your vehicle’s alignment is off is irregular tire wear, vibration and odd handling characteristics are other clues.
Taking a few minutes to check your alignment will make your tires last longer and your vehicle handle better. So here is a step-by-step process on how to check your alignment at home.
- To check the toe, park the vehicle on level ground with the tires straight ahead and the steering wheel centered. Jack up one of the front tires, secure the vehicle on jack stands, then spray-paint a stripe on the tread while spinning the tire. Try to keep your hand as steady as possible so your line can be even on both tires.
- Measure from line to line with the tape level with the floor.
- Measure again on the back sides of the tires. Make sure that the tape is level and the same distance above the ground as it was for the front reading. Compare the two measurements to reveal the toe, accounting for measurements taken lower than at the tires’ center for actual toe.
- If the steering wheel is already centered, adjust the tie-rods on each side the same amount. Roll the vehicle back and forth several feet a few times to transfer your adjustment to the tires, then re-measure the toe. Repeat this step until the toe is within spec.
- Torque the adjuster-sleeve nuts to factory specs to complete the adjustment.
- Camber measures tire lean. Camber isn’t adjustable on many front-wheel-drive cars, and an out-of-spec measurement usually indicates bent or worn part(s) on these vehicles.
- To check camber, make sure the vehicle is parked on level ground. If not, factor the ground slope into the camber reading. Then place a straight edge across the wheel (use the inner lip if the outer is nicked or uneven) and use an angle finder to reveal camber.
If you need help with aligning your car – give us a call at Callahan Automotive today. We wanted to give you the knowledgeable tools to check your alignment yourself but if you need help adjusting – set up an appointment with one of our trained and certified technicians today!