Your vehicle’s suspension can become misalign over time, just by driving over potholes and speed bumps. Even driving slowly over them may cause your suspension components to be jostled out of alignment, sending shockwaves through them that throw them off balance.

how wheel alignment works

Signs that your wheels need alignment include your car drifting to one side on the road and/or vibrating steering wheels at certain speeds. In this article we’ll also cover how wheel alignment works including caster camber and toe alignments.


Caster angle refers to an alignment setting which measures the forward or backward slope of a line drawn between upper and lower steering pivot points. Although caster does not directly impact tire wear, this important setting helps manufacturers balance steering effort, high speed stability, and front end cornering effectiveness for maximum vehicle efficiency.

Ideally, caster should fall within half of one degree between both sides, or less. Any greater disparity could cause your vehicle to drift toward either the side with least positive or most negative caster – potentially pulling it towards that side more heavily than intended. While caster doesn’t grab as many headlines as camber or toe alignment adjustments do, it remains an integral component in wheel alignments and should be scrutinized during every comprehensive wheel alignment assessment.

To increase caster, both upper and lower steering pivot points should lie on an identical vertical plane when seen from the side of a vehicle; otherwise, positive caster will occur. Conversely, to decrease it (negative caster), their mounting points must be closer together (see negative caster above).

Though it may sound silly, you can try your hand at evaluating a car’s caster yourself to gain a better understanding of its workings. Step in front of it with hands raised up towards shoulders; step on both feet at once until they point outward as though walking like a penguin (toe out). Apply these principles to your own front and rear wheels of the vehicle you own to understand toe evaluation better.

No matter if it is for daily driving or track use, wheel alignment will help it perform better and last longer. Checking it regularly after road hazards or curb encounters, replacing suspension components, installing new tires or experiencing odd tire wear patterns should all prompt an alignment appointment with us today if required.


Camber angle refers to the vertical tilt of your wheels when seen from the front of your vehicle and has the greatest influence over tire lifespan and performance. A small amount of camber can benefit your handling and tire wear while too much camber may lead to premature tire and suspension failure. A wheel alignment technician typically uses manufacturer standards when setting desired camber values for your specific make/model car to get optimal camber.

Caster and camber adjustments are two of the primary angles adjusted during wheel alignment; other minor adjustments may also be made. Your wheel alignment printout will show these measurements which were measured using sensors or cameras on the machine and compared against your vehicle’s specifications or recommended values.

When performing a wheel alignment, the technician first inspects both front and rear tires for damage, uneven wear and excessive tear that might indicate that new tires are needed for your car. He then runs your car on an alignment machine to measure angles accurately according to manufacturer specs before making adjustments as necessary to bring them in line with manufacturer guidelines.

After making necessary adjustments, your mechanic will recalibrate your steering wheel before taking your car for a test drive to ensure everything is in working order. He may also discuss wheel balancing to reduce vibrations in the steering wheel and preserve tire life.

Although it’s not necessary to understand every nuance of wheel alignment in detail, it can be useful to familiarize yourself with some of its terms. Caster, camber and toe are three major alignment angles which have significant impacts on vehicle safety, handling, tire life and tire longevity – so next time someone mentions wheel alignment you can be an informed and educated driver!


Many drivers tend to overlook their car’s suspension system, yet it plays a vital role in providing both smooth driving and adequate handling. Your suspension consists of springs, bushings and tie rods which connect wheel assemblies to steering axes as well as other essential parts of the vehicle.

Over time, driving over bumps or hitting potholes can cause the suspension to become disalign. When this occurs, your tires may have an uneven wear pattern or you might experience vibration through the steering wheel – both are sure signs that your vehicle requires wheel alignment services. If either of these symptoms have presented themselves in your car, wheel alignment services could be just what is needed.

Technicians performing wheel alignment will analyze your car’s toe, caster and caster angles to see how they are set. After doing so, they will adjust them according to manufacturer specifications so that your wheels point straight ahead when driving.

Camber and caster angles are measured directly above your tire, while toe is determined when viewing tires from the side. Your tires can either face inward towards the center line (toe-in) or out away from it (toe-out). In most vehicles, toe settings should be balanced between front and rear axles for an optimum result.

Properly aligning toe angles results in less friction between tires and road surface, lengthening tire life. Conversely, excessive toe-in causes your tires to rub against it prematurely causing premature tire wear as well as strain on other suspension components.

Modern cars usually use something known as a cam bolt to make adjustments to camber and caster. This bolt features an off-center washer under its head, as well as two cams positioned either side that can be adjusted by turning their respective bolt nuts – this allows shortening or lengthening depending on whether or not toe in is desired.

Many are aware of the importance of regularly having their car’s tires and wheels aligned, yet few understand exactly how this service works in all its glory. By understanding camber, caster and toe adjustments work, one can gain a better understanding of why your vehicle needs these adjustments as well as their effects on performance and safety.


An alignment requires your mechanic to use a special machine to compare the angles of your front and rear axles with factory specifications, known as camber, caster and toe angles. These angles determine how your vehicle drives on straight roads without pulling left or right; improper alignment could result in premature tire wear, uneven suspension performance and tendency for it to pull in either direction.

As complicated as alignment may sound, most shops make the process relatively quick and painless. First, your technician will raise your vehicle onto a hoist before inspecting your tires and suspension components for signs of excessive wear or damage. If all checks out well, he or she will then hook your vehicle to an alignment machine and make adjustments to four suspension angles accordingly.

Most drivers will be familiar with three important measurements for vehicle alignment: caster, camber and toe. Caster (steering axis angle) measures the vertical tilt of your wheels viewed from the side; camber (steering yaw) sets your front wheels’ angles when seen from above; toe (toe-in/toe-out adjustment of suspension parts or tie rods can change this), while toe (tongue angle of wheels when seen from side) indicates how inward or outward tilt can also be adjusted via tie rods/other suspension parts; toe is adjusted using tie rods or other suspension parts.

Thrust refers to the angle your rear wheels form relative to an imaginary line drawn perpendicularly across your axle’s centerline. An excessively positive thrust could cause uneven tire wear while too negative a thrust could impede driving stability or its handling in turns.

Your equipment should be capable of measuring caster, camber, toe and thrust simultaneously for accurate alignment. Typically this can be accomplished using turn plates with swivel heads that allow technicians to make quick and accurate adjustments quickly and accurately – while DIYers may attempt this measurement themselves, the task may prove too time consuming or challenging.

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