Suspension/Wheel Aligners - Process & Equipment Overview
Proper wheel alignment machines are bulky and fairly complex equipment that measure and help correctly adjust a vehicle's suspension. Common reasons for needing alignment include but are not limited to the following.
- Car pulling to one side or the other
- Vibration in the steering wheel
- An off-center steering wheel
Please Note: It is important to ensure proper tire inflation prior to arriving at the conclusion of misalignment because one slightly deflated tire can also cause pulling and vibration.
Misalignment can occur through regular everyday driving but is more likely after the following incidents:
- Auto accident (even minor one)
- Bumping a curb, median or other small object with the tire or wheel
- Lifting or lowering the vehicle suspension
- New tire, wheels or suspension components
- Carrying large amounts of freight for extended periods of time
The biggest benefit of a proper alignment is less tire wear that is overall more even. Other benefits including remedying the issues listed above along with piece of mind due to proper vehicle maintenance.
Performing a Wheel Alignment
Once a vehicle has been positioned straight on the proper lift, sensors attached to the wheels and a central machine are used to measure the following suspensions angles:
What is being adjusted on the vehicle depends on the type of alignment which can include the following:
- Four-Wheel Alignment
- Front-End Alignment
- Thrust-Angle Alignment
Wheel Alignment Machine Cost
While there are several cheap kits and DIY methods to be found online, none of these are as accurate or precise as a professional alignment completed by a certified technician with commercial grade equipment.
On the pro side, there are some less expensive models from Range Products ($12,000) and Atlas ($25,000), most wheel alignment machines made by top brands such as Hunter and John Bean can cost $40,000 and up.
If you are in the market for one of these high end professional wheel alignment machines, check out this Wheel Aligner (Wheel Size 11-24In) made by John Bean.
See the video below for a more a look at alignment on a lowered Acura NSX.