Wheel & Tire Alignment Shops
Ramona Tire & Service Center is your one-stop auto shop for expert tire and wheel alignment. The ASE-Certified technicians at each of our locations offer these alignment services and more:
- A complete alignment check
- A check of the steering wheel to ensure it is centered
- An inspection of the suspension for excess wear
- Adjustments to camber, caster and/or toe angles if necessary
What a Tire Alignment Shop Does
As you drive, your car’s tires are designed to operate at an optimal position. When this position is off, even by a minor degree, it can cause your vehicle to drive incorrectly. A wheel alignment shop will correct the small imperfections in the wheels’ positions by returning them to their optimal driving position.
Though the imperfections may seem minor, a wheel alignment is an essential auto repair service at Ramona Tire & Service Center.
Why Wheel Alignment is Necessary
Your car manufacturer has designed the alignment to be precise for your vehicle’s weight, engine, and mechanics. Over time, the alignment on your wheels can become askew and start to affect your driving. If left unchecked, poorly aligned wheels can cause drifting, uneven wear, or even a loss of control.
If your car constantly drifts to one side or the tire tread is less defined on one side of the tire, you may need a wheel alignment. Minor errors in the angles of your wheel can have a major impact on your driving experience. For example, an incorrect tire alignment could cause your tires to wear out early. Not only could this unnecessarily cost you money, but it could lead to dangerous driving conditions. Remember, the small things can make a big difference when it comes to wheel alignment.
Because of the importance of proper tire position, it’s essential for an alignment shop to be precise when performing a wheel alignment.
Signs That You Need A Car Wheel Alignment
It may be time for a wheel alignment, if your car exhibits any of these signs:
- Pulling to the right or left while driving
- Feeling a vibration in the steering wheel
- The steering wheel is crooked while driving straight
- Abnormal tire wear
Types of Wheel Alignments
Ramona Tire offers both two-wheel and four-wheel alignments at all locations.
- Four-Wheel Alignment: A four-wheel alignment is often the best choice for many drivers, particularly those who have front-wheel drive. Since most road vehicles have some sort of adjustment possible on each wheel position, the four-wheel alignment is the most thorough way to make sure your vehicle is within manufacturer’s specifications.
- Two-Wheel Alignments: In a two-wheel alignment, only the front wheels are aligned. This type of alignment is most common for small pickup trucks with solid rear axles.
A member of our team can inspect your vehicle to see whether a two-wheel or a four-wheel alignment is the best option for your vehicle. Schedule an online appointment today.
Benefits of Wheel Alignment
A wheel alignment will keep your vehicle running safely and efficiently by promoting reduced tire wear, better gas mileage, and safer driving conditions. Left untreated, wheel alignment issues have the potential to turn into steering and suspension issues, since driving with wheels out of alignment not only puts stress on your tires but also on suspension components. Ultimately, it’s cheaper to get a car wheel alignment than to repair damaged steering components.
A wheel alignment service consists of adjusting the wheels of your vehicle so that all wheels are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Three basic angles contribute to proper wheel alignment:
Camber is the measure of the degree of perpendicular offset from the road surface. Caster is the angle of your wheel’s pivot, which is attached to the suspension, and when this angle is out of alignment, straight-line tracking is affected. Toe refers to the angle of directional difference between the tire and the centerline of the vehicle. The front and rear wheels on your vehicle should always be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to the tire beside it.
If you have any questions about car wheel alignments, contact our team today.
Camber, Toe, and Caster
There are three primary angles that an alignment shop will correct: camber, toe, and caster. Each of these angles refers to a unique degree to which the wheel can be positioned. Every automobile company has designed a specific degree of each of these angles for the tires to function correctly.
By correcting these angles on a vehicle, an alignment shop increases the handling capabilities and helps the car move in the right direction.
The first angle that may need correcting in a wheel alignment is the camber. Camber refers to the vertical tilt of a wheel. If you are looking at the front of the car, the camber will be the degree to which the tires lean. A positive camber means the top of the tire is leaning away from the vehicle. If the camber is negative, the top of the tire is leaning toward the car.
The correct camber affects how well the car will grip the road while cornering. By tilting the tire slightly, the full width of the tire tread can grip the road while turning and taking corners. The advantage of a correct camber is that it can improve safety, increase handling, and allow the tires to be worn down evenly.
The toe angle is the second measurement that matters for tire alignment. The toe angle is the degree to which the front of the tire is angled toward or away from the car. If you are looking at a car from above, the toe is the direction the front of the tire is facing. If the front of the tire is facing away from the vehicle, it is a toe-out angle. If the front of the tire is facing the center of the car, it has a toe-in angle.
The toe is used to guide the vehicle to a standard driving position. If the caster is correct for the car, it should drive straight when the driver takes their hands off the wheel. The toe is also important for keeping the vehicle steady as it accelerates.
In a front-engine vehicle, the toe naturally turns inward as the car increases speed. A toe-out angle helps to combat this effect and keep the tires facing straight ahead. In a rear-engine car, a toe-in setup is often preferred to help increase stability when driving straight lines or returning to a forward position.
With the toe angle, it’s important for an alignment shop only to make minor adjustments, as the toe can greatly affect driving ability. Too much toe, in either direction, could throw off the stability or cause the car to wander.
The caster is the angle at which the steering axis holds the wheel. The steering axis determines the center-forward point to which the vehicle will naturally return when the wheel is not turning. On each wheel, the steering axis is a vertical line that holds the wheel in place. If the top of the axis is behind the center of the wheel, it is a positive caster. If the center of the wheel is behind the top of the steering axis, the caster is negative.
The caster is important in determining how much the suspension and steering axis need to restore the car’s position as it drives. The front wheels of a shopping cart work in a similar way. Because the wheel is behind the point that determines the direction, the wheel will always follow in that direction.
Increasing a positive caster helps maintain a vehicle’s direction while at higher speeds. It can also increase the car’s handling and improve the driving experience.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Tire balancing is done to correct an imbalance in a tire and wheel assembly, which can lead to pronounced vibration or bouncing. This causes stress that leads to premature wear and will shorten the life of your tire’s tread. Using a computerized wheel balancer, our experienced technicians can identify and fix any weight distribution issues that may be present.
Tire alignment involves making small adjustments to the wheels in order to ensure each is parallel to one another and also perpendicular to the ground.
The main benefits of wheel alignments include reduced wear to your tires, better gas mileage, and overall safer driving conditions with better handling. The small, calculated adjustments are part of the highly technical process of aligning your vehicle’s wheels and tires. Because the adjustments need to be precise, alignments should always be performed at an experienced alignment shop like Ramona Tire & Service Centers.
Wheel alignments and tire balancing are not the same thing but can both present similar symptoms like vibrations and abnormal tire wear. Wheel alignments make sure all tires are parallel to one another and perpendicular to the ground, while tire balancing ensures the weight of the tire and wheel assembly are properly distributed. If you’re experiencing any rough vibrations or a pulling to one side or another, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle’s tires and wheels checked. Schedule an online appointment with our tire and wheel experts today.
As you’re driving down the highway with an improperly aligned vehicle, you may notice a fairly distinct pulling to one side or another. There can also be a significant amount of vibration in the steering wheel or even the steering wheel being crooked while driving straight ahead. Another tell-tale sign something is amiss with your alignment is uneven tread wear on your tires. If you notice any of these signs, see a tire and wheel specialist as soon as possible. Proper tire alignment can help improve your tire’s tread life, improve your vehicle’s gas mileage, and give you more control on the road.
For most cars, a four-wheel alignment is the best choice for ensuring the measurements fall within the manufacturers specifications. This allows for an adjustment to each individual wheel to make sure they all run parallel to one another and perpendicular to the ground. With a front-end alignment, or two-wheel alignment, just the vehicle’s front wheels are aligned. This is usually the case when working with pickup trucks and other vehicles that have solid rear axles.
We offer the same expert tire and wheel alignment services at all 17 Ramona tire locations across Southern California. Each of our facilities is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and repair equipment to be able to quickly get your vehicle serviced and back on the road. Make an appointment online now.
The best things any vehicle owner can do to increase the lifespans of their tires all involve maintenance: tire rotations, proper inflation, and getting wheel alignments. Like any good maintenance program, the key to these tasks is consistency. Getting on a consistent schedule helps maintain your vehicle’s components, longer and can prevent costly service later.
In addition to wheel alignments, the tire and wheel pros at Ramona can perform any tire-related service you need, including tire rotation, tire repair, and wheel balancing, and correct issues related to your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). We also offer some of the best deals for new tires. Browse through our coupons page for revolving discounts on different tire services and select new tires.
When our trained technicians perform wheel alignments, they are looking at three key measurements—camber, toe, and caster—and making the necessary adjustments to put each within the manufacturers’ specifications.
- Camber is either an inward angle or outward angle if you’re looking at the tire from the vehicle’s front. There are many moving parts inside the wheel suspension that can contribute to the camber alignment being off and requiring adjustment.
- Toe alignment is how much a tire can move inward or outward, if you’re looking at it from above. When the measurements show toe-in or toe-out alignment, the angles need to be adjusted.
- The third measurement is caster, which means the angle of the steer axis when looking at a vehicle from the side. A properly-set caster angle will help the vehicle steer better, remain more stable, and corner better.
When wheels and tires aren’t properly aligned, there can be premature and uneven wear to tire tread in different forms. Three types of common tread wear that can be traced back to misalignment include:
- Feathering: Usually related to the toe alignment being off, feathering makes one side of the tread appear smooth while the other is sharp.
- Camber Wear: This is due to camber misalignment and produces a vein of tread wear inside or outside of the tread that’s a lot more worn than the tread’s center.
- Heel/Toe Wear: This can occur if one side of the vehicle’s tread block gets worn down faster than the other. Heel and toe wear can be the result of improperly inflating the tire and/or not rotating the tires per the manufacturer’s specifications.
Having your vehicle’s alignment checked with every other oil change is recommended. Signs your alignment can be off (and when you should bring your vehicle in right away) include pulling to one side or another when driving, vibrations, and uneven tread wear on the tires. Getting the alignment done properly will reduce the wear and tear to many different components, make the vehicle handle better, and will prolong the life of your tires.
Proper alignment requires sophisticated measurement devices and equipment to make small adjustments to your wheels and tires. Unless you have the skills and equipment at home to do these, we don’t recommend undertaking an alignment. There are, however, a few things you can do to help alleviate some common issues related to alignment, such as removing excess weight in the vehicle, maintaining the right air pressure in the tires, and getting the tires rotated regularly.
To save time and skip the line on your tire and wheel alignment service, schedule an appointment online. Click here to find the nearest Ramona Tire & Service Center to your location.