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The wheel alignment means to position of the front wheels and steering mechanism gives the directional stability to vehicle, promotes case of steering and reduces the wear to a minimum.
Vehicle is said to have directional stability or control if it can run straight down on road, enter and leaves the turn easily and resist road shock.
The front wheel alignment depends upon wheel geometry i.e. castor, camber Kingpin, inclination, toe-in toe-out.
The following factors affects the wheel alignment
1) Factor pertaining to Wheel
a) Balance of wheel
b) Inflation of tyre
c) Steering geometry
2) Steering geometry
c) King pin inclination
d) Toe-in and toe-out
3) Steering linkage
4) Suspension system
Wheel alignment checking
Before checking the wheel alignment, let us check the first the king inclination, camber and caster angles and toe-in.
The camber angle and Kingpin inclination are fixed in those vehicles which have axle beam. But the caster angle is adjustable by a caster plate. In those vehicles having independent suspension system, these angles are adjusted by a shim between the lower and upper arm brackets or by eccentric clamping bolts of the arm.
To check camber, caster and kingpin inclination, a particular type of gauge is used.
This gauge consists of two part
1) Level and angle gauge,
2) Turn table
There are many gauges to check toe-in. Optical gauge of Dunlop tyre Co. gives very accurate reading. Telescopic gas is commonly used workshops.
It consist of two pipes which can slide one inside the other. At the end of each pipe there is rod, which can be adjusted at any position on the pipe. Each rod has an adjustable pointer.
To check the toe-in touch the pointers of the gauge with the front wheels and note the reading on the pipe.
Similarly, touch the pointers of the gauge with rear portion of the front wheels and note the reading. The difference between the two readings is the toe-in.
The balancing of the tyre wheel is most essential to avoid the front wheel wobble. Which affects steering and increase tyre wear rate.
The factor affecting the wheel balancing are as follows
1) Lateral run out of the wheel.
2) Radial run out or run of round the wheel, caused by tyre or rim out.
3) Uneven distribution of the weight around the axis of rotation.
Therefore, it must be necessary to inspect the wheel centreing, before checking the wheel for balancing lateral run out which result of a wraped rim from bumps and can be corrected by arbor press.
The tyre must be removed to straighten the wheel rim. Turn the wheel about its axis and check the wheel inside flanges retaining the tyre bead and the rim well from ram out in excess of 1.5 mm.
Static Balance of front wheels
This can be done with the wheels installed on the vehicle by using electronic balancer. This gives remarkable advantages of balancing the wheel along with the other rotating messes.
The process is as follow
a) Lift the front wheels on hydraulic jack such that the wheel is freely rotated.
b) Arrange the spinner, which carries the balancer equipment, with its pulley in touch with the tyre tread, the wheel should be in straight a head position.
c) Move the balancer into position to point to strobe light at the wheel.
d) Position the pickup magnet in contact with a clean flat surface on the front suspension as closed to the wheel as possible.
f) Shift the balancer switch to position one and wait some minutes to allow the warm up of tubes if the pick up magnet is in proper contact, the strobe light we will flash when the top of the tyre is tapped.
g) Start the wheel by hand, snap on the switch of the spinner, motor and hold the spinner pulley against the tyre tread to revup the wheel.
While spinning, the following conditions are experienced
1) The flashing of the strobe light will make the reference mark on the wheel appear to be fixed in the same position.
2) Watch the metre of electronic balancer. The needle will move on front zero position. When it reaches its highest reading and starts moving back, pull the spinner away.
3) Inertia causes the wheel to keep turnning, and the needle will rise again. When meter needle shows its higher, reading note the position of the reference mark. Consider the reference mark as the hour hand of a clock. The time the difference mark indictes the position to remember.
h) Repeat the above inspection produce and note maximum reating on meter dial.
If the needle still moves beyond green area, proceed as follow
1) Stop the wheel.
2) Move the wheel on same reference mark position or time recorded at 8.
3) Change or shift the balance weight applied, to wheel.
i) Repeat the check as directed previously. If the wheel is still over of balance, proceed with the balance procedure, till the metre needle remain in the green area.
Front wheel dynamic balance
a) Turn the wheel out approximately one half of their steering angle.
b) Position the pickup magnet in contact with the external front end of the brake housing flange at the wheel rotating axis.
c) Span the wheel and record the highest meter reading as well as corresponding position of reference mark as per static balancing procedure.
d) If the matter moves out of the green area on the dial the wheel is out of balance,
In this case follow the procedure as
1) Move the wheel by hand to the same reference mark position as noted at 3.
2) Divide the total indicated weight in half and apply.
One half at the inside front end of the wheel, inline with horizontal wheel axis.
The other half at the outside rear end of the wheel, in opposite position to the first half.
e) Check the dynamic balance of the wheel as done for the static balances.
f) If still out of balance, stop the wheel and bring the reference mark in correspondence with the position or time recorded in ‘f’.
g) Repeat the inspection as previously directed. If wheel is out of balancing, repeat the above procedure till the metre needle remains in the green area.
Benefits of Regular Wheel Alignment and Balancing
Regular wheel alignment and balancing are essential maintenance tasks for your vehicle.
They offer several benefits that contribute to the overall performance, safety, and longevity of your vehicle.
Some key benefits:
Proper wheel alignment ensures that your vehicle travels in a straight line and responds accurately to steering inputs. This is crucial for maintaining control, especially in emergency situations.
Extended Tire Life:
Wheel balancing helps distribute the weight of the vehicle evenly across all tires, reducing uneven wear. This extends the life of your tires and saves you money in the long run.
Better Fuel Efficiency:
When your wheels are properly aligned, there is less rolling resistance, which means your vehicle doesn’t have to work as hard to move forward. This can result in improved fuel efficiency.
Balanced wheels contribute to a smoother and more comfortable ride. Properly aligned wheels also prevent vibrations and steering wheel wobbling, enhancing overall driving comfort.
Optimal Handling and Performance:
Correct wheel alignment ensures that your vehicle handles well and maintains proper traction. This is crucial for optimal performance, especially during cornering and maneuvering.
Prevention of Uneven Tire Wear:
Misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear, with certain parts of the tire wearing out faster than others. Regular alignment helps prevent this issue, ensuring that tires wear evenly and last longer.
Reduced Stress on Suspension Components:
Proper wheel alignment reduces stress on various suspension components, including shocks and struts. This can extend the lifespan of these components and prevent the need for premature repairs.
Improved Braking Performance:
Well-aligned wheels contribute to better braking performance. Misaligned wheels can affect the distribution of braking forces, potentially compromising your ability to stop quickly and safely.
Enhanced Vehicle Stability:
Proper wheel alignment is essential for maintaining stability, especially at higher speeds. This is important for highway driving and overall vehicle control.
Although wheel alignment and balancing services have associated costs, they are an investment that can save you money in the long term by preventing premature tire wear, reducing fuel consumption, and minimizing the need for costly suspension repairs.
What is meant by wheel alignment?
Alignment refers to an adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension, the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the tires or wheels themselves. The key to proper alignment is adjusting the angles of the tires, which affect how they make contact with the road.
Can an alignment damage the car?
Effects of misalignment
There is also the potential for misalignment to put much more stress on a vehicle’s suspension than it is designed to withstand. This could result in damage to certain components in the suspension system that can be extremely expensive to repair.
How many km is a wheel alignment?
On average, you should check your balance and alignment every 5,000 – 6,000 kilometers and automatically every time you change new tires. But don’t delay doing it.
Is it really necessary to balance the wheels?
Wheel sway is integral to smooth driving, safety, tire wear and stability, and allows tires to spin without causing vibrations. Unlike wheel alignment, tire balancing refers to compensating for any weight imbalance in the tire/wheel combination.
What is the benefit of balancing tires?
Often confused with wheel alignment, tire balance is important to ensure the best performance from a vehicle and to get the longest tire life. Tire balancing provides a smooth ride and ensures even tire wear by properly adjusting the weight distribution of the tires around the vehicle.
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