Vancouver Wheel & Tire Alignment Shop

When your vehicle alignment is not proportioned correctly, two issues may occur:

  1. Driving becomes more expensive
  2. Driving becomes more dangerous

Driving without proper alignment costs you money. Not only does flawed alignment decrease gas mileage and tire life, but it also adds stress to your vehicle’s steering equipment and structure. Ideally, your vehicle’s wheels should run perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Adjusting these wheel angles will bring your vehicle back into proper alignment.

Driving without proper alignment puts you at risk. An out-of-alignment car pulls and drifts away from a straight road and may cause an accident. Excessive tire wear—another result of bad car alignment—leads to tire blow-outs and poor traction, which also causes accidents. Bring in your vehicle and our alignment experts will make sure your vehicle drives smoothly and safely.

How does poor alignment happen?

  • Many factors impact your vehicle’s alignment. You typically need alignment service after a major or minor collision that results in physical damage to your vehicle’s frame.
  • Your vehicle needs immediate attention when you notice steering problems or uneven tire wear patterns on your tires.
  • Sometimes problems arise from something as small as driving over a pothole, or grazing over a curb.

Look for the following symptoms to determine if you require our computerized alignment services.

Caster:

A faulty caster angle causes loose or difficult steering.

Caster describes the steering pivot angle, as seen from the vehicle’s side and measured in degrees. Caster alignment plays a large role in evaluating the “feel” of steering and the stability. Three to five degrees of positive caster is typical for most vehicles and lower angles for heavier vehicles.

Camber:

A faulty camber angle will create pulling and tire wear.

Camber is the angle of the wheel in relation to a vertical direction (seen from the front or rear of the car). A negative camber measurement occurs when a wheel leans toward the vehicle’s framework; a positive measurement points the wheel away from the car. An ideal camber angle assures optimal tire efficiency, proper steering control, and helps prevent rolling.

Toe:

A faulty toe angle will wear down your tires.

Like camber and caster, toe is measured by degrees. When your front or rear wheels have front edges pointed toward each other, the pair is called “toe-ins.” If the front edges point away from each other, the pair is called “toe-outs.”

With properly aligned wheels, you’ll get:

  • Tires that last longer
  • Easier steering
  • Improved gas mileage
  • Smoother ride
  • Safer, more secure driving

Alignment Shop FAQs

What exactly is done during a wheel alignment service?

During a wheel alignment—sometimes called car alignment or tire alignment—the vehicle’s suspension is adjusted and repositioned as needed. This service is NOT an adjustment of the wheels/tires themselves. Essentially, a wheel alignment is the squaring of the vehicle’s axles and wheels with each other so that they’re all sitting evenly and moving in the same way.

For a wheel alignment service, our ASE-certified technicians use special computerized alignment equipment to measure precisely how each wheel assembly is aligned with the others and the road itself. Based on these measurements, the toe, caster, and camber—the three primary angles at which the tires make contact with the surface of the road—will be adjusted as needed to fit the optimal specifications. These angles directly influence your vehicle’s handling when driving, fuel efficiency, and how long your tires and other components will last.

During an alignment service, the technician will also check to ensure that your suspension components are not overly worn and that your steering wheel is centered.
When you need an alignment shop, you can count on the team at Gaynor’s Automotive. Schedule your appointment today to ensure your vehicle is in perfect alignment and optimal driving condition.

How does the wheel alignment measurement process work?

For a wheel alignment service, special computerized equipment is used to take precise measurements of tire angles. A couple of different types of equipment are most often used.
With the most used one, a special measurement unit (sometimes referred to as a “head”) is attached to each wheel. These “heads” are large precision reflectors. Then there is a central computerized alignment “tower” containing several cameras and an array of LED lights placed at the front of the vehicle. This tower flashes one set of LEDs for each reflector while a camera on the tower “looks for” an image of the patterned face of the reflectors. These images are then used to calculate precise angle measurements.

With the other type of alignment equipment, the head is a special clamp with a camera unit attached to each wheel. These units then communicate their positioning in relation to each other to a central computer that calculates and displays exactly how much the toe, caster, and/or camber angles are misaligned.

The tower alignment equipment/system is often the preferred system because it alleviates the numerous possible issues caused by having to relocate heavy precision camera assemblies for each vehicle serviced.

Is a tire alignment service the same as a tire balancing service?

No, wheel/tire alignment and tire balancing are two different services. A car alignment ensures that all four wheels are in alignment with the road surface and each other. Alternatively, a tire rebalancing service ensures that the weight is distributed evenly around each wheel/tire assembly.

Even though your tires are round, there will sometimes be manufacturing imperfections that create areas that are heavier or lighter than others. So, when tires are rebalanced, a technician will put each wheel and tire unit individually on a balancing machine that spins the unit, taking weight measurements around the diameter of the wheel and pinpointing where any weight imbalances may be. The technician will then attach small weights, weighing just fractions of an ounce, to the wheel in precise locations to even the weight and compensate for any differences.

As your wheels lose balance over time, a rebalancing service is usually needed more frequently than a wheel alignment will be and is often done at the same time as your tire rotation service.

Whether you need an alignment or tire balancing service done, the ASE-certified technicians at each of the convenient Gaynor’s Automotive locations can help.

Will a wheel alignment stop my vehicle from pulling to one side while I’m driving?

Maybe! Your vehicle’s alignment is not the only factor that could cause a pull to one side. Some braking problems can cause a vehicle to pull. Tires can sometimes cause a lateral or radial pull that will impact the steering. No matter what is causing it, our expert technicians can pinpoint the problem and perform the necessary service to correct it.

How can I tell if my vehicle needs an alignment?

Wheel misalignment can be caused if any one of the three main car alignment angles is even slightly off. It may not be obvious by just looking at the wheels and tires, but you may feel or hear differences in how the vehicle handles while driving. Some red flags that indicate the vehicle may be out of alignment include:

  • Your vehicle is pulling to the right or left.
  • You are driving straight, but the steering wheel is crooked.
  • There is uneven or accelerated tread wear.
  • The tires are squealing when turning a corner.
  • There is reduced vehicle handling when turning corners or braking.

Have you noticed any of the above in your vehicle? Our expert technicians can pinpoint any alignment issues your vehicle may have and correct them. Schedule an appointment at your closest Gaynor’s Automotive location today!

What causes misalignment of the wheels/tires?

Besides use over time, the most common causes of vehicle misalignment include running over a pothole or other rough-road conditions and being involved in a minor collision. Off-road vehicles are also very susceptible to wheel misalignment and wear-and-tear of steering system components, which also causes misalignment.

How often should I have the alignment checked?

Besides hitting a curb or pothole, etc., misalignment can often be so subtle that it may not be noticeable. Including tire alignment checks (and corrections as needed) in your regular preventative maintenance routine is important. For an exact answer on how often it should be done, look in your vehicle’s owner manual for the recommended alignment schedule from the manufacturer.

Generally, you should have your alignment checked once a year, at a minimum. A good habit to get into is to have it checked during every other oil change or tire rotation. You also always want to have it done when new tires are installed. If you have a collision, hit a large pothole, or have similar situations, you should have your wheel alignment checked ASAP.

Catching any misalignments early will help ensure your vehicle stays in the safest driving condition. It also prevents you from needing to replace tires more frequently, spend more money on gas, or make costly steering system repairs.

If I get new tires, should I also have an alignment done?

Yes! Having an alignment done when replacing tires is one of the best ways to help extend their lifespan. If you don’t have a wheel alignment done when new tires are installed, you may start experiencing uneven tire wear or even a rougher ride, significantly impacting your tires’ lifespan.

So, to help protect your investment in new tires, make sure to also ask for a wheel alignment service when they are being installed.

My neighbor says he could do a car alignment on my vehicle at his house. Is this possible?

Not if you want it done right! Yes, “old-fashioned” alignments used to be done with manual measurements. But the computerized alignment technology of today allows for much more accurate alignment specifications, impacting the vehicle’s steering, pulling, etc. Without the best technology you’ll find at an alignment shop, you won’t get a proper alignment.
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