Wheel alignment sometimes referred to as wheel tracking, is part of the standard car and vehicle maintenance that consists of adjusting the angles of wheels to the car manufacturer’s specifications. The purpose of making these adjustments is to reduce tyre wear and to ensure that the vehicle travels in a straight line, keeping the steering wheel straight without pulling to one side or the other. Wheel aligners come in several different shapes and sizes and with varying features, all of which will add value to your business, but let’s explore more about wheel alignment, and help you decide if it’s something you should be offering your customers.
What is a Wheel Alignment Machine?
A wheel aligner is a machine used to align the wheels of a vehicle. Laser Wheel Aligners are the simple version of these, with lasers that are bolted to a vehicle wheel and will shine a straight laser line to the other wheel on that side of the vehicle to assess whether the wheels are in line. Other more advanced wheel aligners, often called CCD aligners, use a combination of lasers, cameras and computer-controlled software to make accurate measurements of the wheel positions both against each other and to the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually stored in a database as part of the wheel aligner software program. Further advanced to these are 3D wheel alignment machines which use three-dimensional imaging technology to measure the angles and positions of the wheels.
How profitable is wheel alignment to a garage?
After the initial outlay for the wheel alignment machine, the running costs are extremely low, sometimes there will be a fee for annual database updates (or some may be pay-as-you-go) as well as calibrations of the alignment heads, but this means that the vast majority of the income received thereafter is pure profit. You may find during the alignment that the tyres, weights, suspension, steering or braking components are due for replacement or repair, hence these additional checks add an additional level of safety to the customer visit and additional revenue to your garage or MOT Bay. Wheel alignment is considered one of the most valuable services a garage can offer to customers in terms of revenue and profit to the business. As an example, even if you bought our most expensive 3D wheel aligner and performed 5 alignments per day, it would more than pay for itself in less than a month! You can try out examples of this using our handy online Wheel Alignment Profit Calculator.
Glossary of Wheel Alignment terms
Camber: the inward and outward angle of the tyres compared to a vertical line when viewed from the front or rear of the vehicle, hence the top or the bottom of the tyre will be out of alignment, often caused by worn bearings, ball joints or damaged suspension components, also sometimes seen on cars where spacers are fitted incorrectly. Toe Angle: Looking at your tyres from above (or below) if they are not completely in line with each other then we would say the toe is out of alignment. If the front edge of each tyre is relatively closer than the rear edges then we say they toe in, the opposite would mean they toe out. Both situations will result in uneven tyre wear, especially along the edges of the tyres. Caster: Looking at the wheel from the side of the car, the wheel should sit central to the suspension components and centrally within the wheel arch. If the wheel is not completely upright from this angle we say that it has either a negative caster (it’s leaning backwards) or a positive caster (leaning forwards). Steering can be adversely affected if this is not set correctly. Thrust angle: This is used to determine if the rear axle is properly aligned with the front wheel axle of the vehicle, as this alignment should be the equivalent of a straight line drawn from the centre of the rear axle to the centre of the front, and any deviation from this would cause curved or meandering of the vehicle under acceleration as the forward thrust would happen at a less than straight angle, and the driver would constantly be correcting the steering angle whilst driving.
If you have any questions about wheel alignment or anything in this article please give our friendly sales team a call at 0113 469 0572.