A vehicle set up on our new wheel alignment machine.

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 ride 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 ride 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 ride 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.