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Benefits of wheel alignments

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are parts of the tires on your vehicle wearing more quickly than others? Is your steering wheel crooked? Did a mechanic recently install new tires or work on your suspension?

If so, your vehicle might have a bad wheel alignment. A tire alignment is a form of maintenance that should be performed yearly and whenever certain types of work are done, like suspension part replacement or new tires are put on.

These checkups aren’t just an excuse that auto repair shops use to get you to bring your car in. They offer multiple perks that drivers may notice immediately or over the long haul.

A few benefits of wheel alignments are described below.

Some benefits of wheel alignments

A new Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire and a Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire with 50,000 miles on it.

Prevents uneven tire wear

In the photo above, you will see a brand new Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire (the left one) and a Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire with 50,000 miles on it (the right one). If you look closely at the one that has been used for 50,000 miles, you will see that the treadwear is even all the way across. This is because the customer had a wheel alignment or alignment check performed once a year. That way, the tire didn’t experience any abnormal wear on one side or the other.

Replacing a coil spring strut assembly.
coil spring strut assembly

Ensures steering capability is correct

If you’re having work performed on your car – like replacing the shock-strut assembly or changing any suspension components – you’ll want to have an alignment done. In some cases, you may be restoring some ride height. Also, moving parts around when installing something is going to change the parameters – whether it be caster, camber or toe. So, you want to make sure everything is aligned with the front and back, to make sure your tires wear right. Along with that – because components are replaced – it’s important to make sure the steering capability is correct.

A tire that has become worn down, due to too much negative camber.
Tire worn down, due to too much negative camber

Extends lifespan of tires

There’s a lot of road construction occurring right now, especially in the Woodbridge, Virginia area. During your daily travels, you may hit potholes or road patches, which act like mini speed bumps. That puts a lot of wear, especially on the steering components. Your tires are also taking that abuse. You want to get your alignment checked and have a wheel alignment conducted if need be, so your tires last.

Allows safety features to function right

Many of today’s vehicles use Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as lane assist. If a vehicle is out of alignment, those safety systems may not work the way they should. A lot of the time, we need to complete the alignment before we can reset the parameters for the ADAS system.

Helps with fuel economy

The more aligned tires are with the vehicle, front and back, the less rolling resistance. The less rolling resistance you have, the better your fuel efficiency will be. If the tires are off a bit, they will drag across the pavement. That increases tire wear and decreases fuel economy.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Wheel alignment machine upgraded

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is keeping up with advancements in technology.

Our wheel alignment machine has received some upgrades. It may not seem like a big deal, but these improvements are helping speed up the process and increase our capabilities.

Before these changes, we needed to find the specifications and perform a custom alignment, a time consuming process. Now, we have the information we need for vehicles that have come out between 2018 and 2022.

Depending on the car, we may have to recalibrate the steering angle sensor. We have the computers and software to do that.

A lot of shops haven’t been able to keep up with upgrades, due to COVID-19, and can even be 2 to 5 years behind. We try to stay up-to-date on technology so we can better serve our customers.

We also provide our technicians with training on the latest techniques, tools and tips.

In addition to working on vehicles owned by our customers, our Woodbridge tire shop performs car alignments on those from other auto repair shops as well as body shops.

When and why to get a wheel alignment

Wheel alignments are one of the services our Woodbridge mechanics are able to perform.

Recommended once a year or when you have tires replaced, a car alignment prevents premature tire wear. You can learn more about why we suggest having it checked yearly by reading this article we published. An alignment can also be thrown off by suspension wear, or hitting a curb or pothole.

There are a few symptoms that could make an appearance when you need a tire alignment. When you have a bad wheel alignment, you may notice uneven tire wear, the vehicle pulling to one side, and a steering wheel that seems to be crooked or uncentered.

The car alignment process

During the tire alignment process, special targets are attached to and read the direction of the wheels. The CCD camera reads the targets showing where the angles are. The technicians use this information as they manually adjust the car until the readings are correct.

Caster, camber and toe are the specifications checked during a wheel alignment. “Camber” describes how tires are angled in or out, and “caster” explains how much they tilt to the front or back. “Toe” refers to their position in relation to a vehicle’s center.

We also have the equipment to reset the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS). ADAS, which is used on a lot of vehicles nowadays, includes park assist, collision avoidance, and blind spot detection. 

The vehicle’s alignment has to be within specification in order to reset anything in the ADAS system.

One aspect that is missed at a lot of shops is the right height of the car. Most vehicles have struts. On cars and SUVs, there will be a strut coil spring set up on all four corners. The height can drop, due to the spring losing a little bit of their tension. That can impact the handling of the vehicle, as well.

We measure the right height, measure the angles of the wheels, because sometimes it will require replacing some parts to bring everything back to the way the manufacturer intended.

So, it isn’t just a matter of setting the toe. It’s about looking at the right height, and checking the caster, camber and thrust angle. All these factors can affect other systems in a vehicle.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Cadillac CTS wheel alignment cost

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire works on Cadillacs of all makes and models.

Our Cadillac service includes wheel alignments, which help prevent premature tire wear. We recommend having it checked once a year or when new tires are installed.

While conducting an alignment, we use high quality parts and a computerized alignment system. Various specifications, such as caster, camber and toe are checked through this process.

How much does an alignment for a Cadillac CTS cost?

Wheel alignment prices aren’t set in stone and depend on several factors.

The average cost for a Cadillac CTS wheel alignment is between $98 and $132, not including taxes and fees.

If the caster or camber need to be adjusted, a special tool is required, which could increase the cost to between $220 and $278. The price can also depend on whether additional parts are required.

This service could be done as part of a larger repair or tire replacement, so it may not represent the total cost.

Special target on a wheel and a computer displaying the wheel alignment of a vehicle.What could impact a Cadillac’s alignment?

Aside from getting a car alignment annually and when tires are replaced, you may need one when certain circumstances occur.

Some issues could throw a Cadillac out of alignment, including normal wear and tear, potholes, and certain components — such as tie rod ends, ball joints, and control arm bushings.

Work completed by automotive professionals might impact a car alignment, as well.

Some automotive centers may try to perform one as if it’s a rear wheel vehicle when it really needs an all wheel alignment. This could cause them to use the wrong specifications. Depending on the year of the Cadillac, there can be different suspension specifications. Certain Cadillacs have a standard and sports package, which gives them different ride heights. If you use the wrong specifications, that may cause premature tire wear.

We use the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to load the specifications into our alignment machine. This machine is updated every year to make sure we have the most accurate information from the manufacturer.

What are symptoms of a bad wheel alignment?

A few symptoms can be clues that you need a tire alignment.

One indicator of a bad wheel alignment is the steering wheel could be slightly off-center.

Hitting a bump in the road might impact how much the steering wheel needs to be turned while driving down the road. 

You can also feel as if the vehicle is pulling to one side on a flat road. You should take into account that there could be a crown in the road, which may be causing it to pull.

Tires wearing unevenly is another symptom drivers might notice when a tire alignment is needed.

If you think that you are in need of a Cadillac CTS wheel alignment, it’s a good idea to reach out to an auto repair shop near you or having it looked over by a local mechanic.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Wheel alignments for Toyota vehicles

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

If you notice your Toyota vehicle is veering to the side, or you’re having difficulty steering, then it may be time to come in for a wheel alignment. In order to keep your car safely on the road, and your tires wearing down correctly, your tires need to be properly aligned.

Maybe your Camry hit a pothole or a curb, or perhaps your vehicle is experiencing suspension wear. Whatever the reason, an alignment ensures that your car doesn’t take unnecessary wear and tear.

Not sure if you need an alignment? You may be able to tell based on a few indicators – tires wearing unevenly, crooked steering wheels, and a vehicle pulling to one side are signs of bad wheel alignments.

How much are wheel alignments, and what do we do during them?

How much a wheel alignment costs depends on several factors, such as the kind of vehicle and the type of alignment needed.

The price can range anywhere from $80 to $188. If there are any parts or adjustments needed to bring the alignment into correct specification, that could be additional costs.

A lot of Toyota trucks, for example, can require more adjustments to the caster and camber than other trucks.

The age of a vehicle and where it’s from impact the alignment, as well.

Adjustments on a vehicle from a northern state, which have a lot of salt on the road during the winter, can seize up. Sometimes you have to work harder to free them up or may even need to replace the adjusters due to rust. 

During an alignment, our technicians check the caster, camber, toe, and thrust angles of your vehicle. Your Tundra can then be aligned for the manufacturer’s specifications on alignment, and your own preferences. Here’s an explanation of the different angles:

  • Camber: Camber describes how tires are angled in and out.
  • Caster: Caster is the forward or backward angle.
  • Toe: Toe refers to where the tires are in relation to the center.
  • Thrust angle: Thrust angle is used to compare the rear axle with the center and front axle.

After looking over and adjusting the angles, we may need to reset certain systems. This is sometimes needed for vehicles that use Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as park assist and blind spot detection.

When and why to get this service

Even if you’re not experiencing problems currently with your alignment, our technicians follow the industry standards and recommendations that you align your Toyota’s tires once a year, or every 15,000 miles. 

We also suggest this service when you buy new tires.

There are several benefits of getting a car alignment, like helping the tires last as long as possible.

Tire alignments aren’t a requirement, and if your tires are wearing evenly and you aren’t having problems with your Yaris then you can wait. However, by scheduling regular alignments according to the industry standard, you will ultimately save money on tires, as alignments ensure that the tires will wear down evenly over time.

Our technicians at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire can help schedule an appointment to evaluate your Toyota and provide an assessment on an alignment for your vehicle.

We can do wheel alignments for these Toyota and Scion vehicles:

  • Camry
  • Yaris
  • Sienna
  • Tundra
  • Tacoma
  • FJ Cruiser

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Why you should get your wheel alignment checked once a year

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s important to have your car’s alignment checked once a year or when new tires are installed. This service can prevent tires from wearing prematurely.

While performing a wheel alignment on a Honda CR-V, we noticed that one of its tires needed to be replaced. 

Not only was the tire worn down to its tread wear indicator, it was going down to the secondary rubber. On the inside, the tire’s steel belts were showing.

wheel alignment
worn tire

In this particular case, the problem had to do with the camber adjustment being too negative which allowed for accelerated inner tire wear.

Camber, caster and toe are the main specifications our technicians check when conducting a wheel alignment.

wheel alignment
Honda Wheel Alignment

Worn or bent suspension components and a vehicle being overloaded consistently cause this problem, as well.

Sometimes, items and their weight could impact an alignment.

If you’re consistently driving around with 1,000 newspapers in the back, for example, you may want to have the alignment done with the newspapers in the car.

A lot of cars now have specifics on how much weight is in the car, if the fuel tank is full. and the ride height, because the engineers try to compensate for this problem. However, they can’t make up for extreme conditions.

On most Hondas, you do perform a four-wheel alignment because you can adjust the rear toe from the factory settings.

When it comes to worn suspension components – like rear upper control arms on Honda CRVs and elements – the bushings go bad and the top of the tire looks like it’s leaning toward the inside of the car. 

Replacing them with upgraded upper control arms – which comes with adjustments – you can then adjust the rear camber.

The strut assemblies can wear down over time and cause problems, as well.

Hitting potholes, curbs and objects in the road can bend control arms or struts and steering knuckles, which can also cause a tire wire/wheel alignment problem.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Tell your auto repair shop everything

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Details are key.

When dropping off your vehicle at an auto repair shop, it’s important to provide as much information as possible – whether it’s a noise you hear, work that has been done, or a recent incident. 

The driver of a Dodge Avenger brought their car in for a wheel alignment and explained that they had hit a curb.

Before performing alignments, our technicians complete a free courtesy inspection. During courtesy checks, they check various components, including the brakes and lights.

When looking over the Dodge Avenger, we noticed that a wheel and tire were damaged and that the wheel would shift back and forth when the brakes were applied. The lower control arm was broken, as well.

Auto repair shop
Broken lower control arm

Lower control arms are responsible for linking the frame with the suspension.

As one of the technicians removed the broken lower control arm, he saw that the subframe was bent and needed to be replaced.

auto repair shop
Old subframe

Providing details to your mechanic an idea of things we should be watchful for and steps we need to take to care of your car.

It can also prevent more damage from occurring.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Wheel alignments can help your tires last longer

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Potholes aren’t a rare sight in Northern Virginia, where a lot of road work and construction can be seen.

Because potholes can knock the wheels of your vehicle out of alignment, it’s a good idea to get the tire alignment checked once a year.

An alignment can also be impacted by curbs and suspension wear.

We also recommend having wheel alignments performed when you’re buying new tires.

Tires are a large investment in a vehicle and you want to make sure they last as long as possible. 

A crooked steering wheel, uneven tire wear, and a car pulling to one side are signs of bad wheel alignments.

If you put off an alignment, it can lead to tire wear problems.

Here are some issues that can be mistaken for a wheel alignment problem.

Our technicians use computer aided alignment with up to date specifications to make sure your tires are aligned properly. 

With today’s vehicles being technically advanced, it’s not just a matter of going under the car with the wrench and adjusting the toe, or the caster, or the camber. It’s also about making sure the steering wheel angle sensors are reset and — in some cases — ensuring the Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) are calibrated.

We do have an alignment system for the ADAS systems in a vehicle.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Buick tire alignments

In News, Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

While you’re driving your Buick, you feel that the car is pulling to one side.

It could be time for you to get a wheel alignment.

A vehicle pulling in one direction, uneven tire wear, and a crooked steering wheel are signs that a tire alignment is needed.

There are some issues that may be mistaken for a wheel alignment problem.

Curbs, potholes and suspension wear can cause tires to go out of alignment.

We recommend tire alignments when you get new tires and every 15,000 miles.

If you drive a Buick and don’t have an alignment performed regularly, you run the risk of having tire wear problems.

This not only means that your tires will wear out sooner, but there will also be a chain reaction of symptoms. 

For example, if you have a tire that wears out on the outer shoulders and it gets bad enough, then your car might start traveling to the left.

At that point, a new alignment won’t address the issue, because it has become a tire problem. 

We have state-of-the-art equipment, and specs for all makes and models.

Read about what occurs when you during tire alignments.

In addition to alignments, we provide an assortment of services, including repair for Buick cars and SUV’s.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Toyota Prius tire alignment problems

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are the tires of your Toyota Prius wearing unevenly? Is your car pulling to one side? Does the steering feel sloppy?

These are some signs of a bad tire alignment.

Various issues can be mistaken for a wheel alignment problem.

The steering wheel shuddering when you press the brake pedal is one of them.

Tire alignments should be performed when new tires are placed on the vehicle, and once a year — especially when you commute or are driving in an area that has lots of construction or potholes.

Tire Alignment
Tire Alignment

When you get new tires, you need to get a four-wheel alignment, because if the rear wheels are out, it can cause the vehicle to feel strange going around corners. 

If your Prius has Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), a point VSC calibration should be performed.

There are rear shims available to bring the rear wheels into the correct specifications, but they can only adjust so much. If the specs are out further than what can be done with shims, there could be bent components, such as a strut or spindle.

Another reason to make sure you have a good, four-wheel alignment is you can lose three miles per gallon if the tires are causing more resistance than they should be.

Toe, caster and camber are the main specifications that need to be checked during a wheel alignment.

Depending on where Toyotas come from and how well they’ve been maintained, a lot of rust can build up on the suspension components, especially where adjustments are made. 

The rust can cause components the seize up. This may require some parts to be replaced in order to perform the alignment correctly.

Some replacement parts for the Toyota Prius that are from the factory don’t come with needed adjustments. Aftermarket manufacturers do produce parts that offer them.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Do I need a wheel alignment?

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Many people will call us to ask if we do wheel alignments when they’re trying to solve an issue that may not require it.

Some of these issues may include a vibration drivers are feeling in a steering wheel. A wheel alignment issue will have more to do with tire wear and how the vehicle tracks down the road — whether it’s going straight or pulling to one side.

wheel alignment wheel balance problem

Having a wheel alignment conducted regularly — once a year — can help save drivers money and prevent premature wear.

 

 

 

To take care of the wheel balance problem, we’ll need to remove the tire, place it on a wheel balancer, and place the correct amount of weights on it.

If it’s a tire issue and it’s a steel belt that is broken, then the tire would have to be replaced.

Another symptom that is mistaken for a wheel alignment problem is when you press the brake pedal and the steering wheel starts to shudder. 

steering wheel alignment vibration brake rotor

This is due to the brake rotors having too much run out — or what people refer to as “warped” — and this can be easily mistaken because so much of that vibration is transferred through the steering wheel, especially if it’s the front rotors that have the problem.

 

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what the problem is with your car. Just pay attention to what’s happening when — such as whether the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other, how fast you’re going, or whether you’re pressing on the brake pedal.

These bits of information will be very helpful to the auto repair shop in getting your vehicle diagnosed quickly and accurately.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.