Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Alignment Inspection
Jan 22, 2017
Uneven tire wear, the car pulling to one side or a steering wheel that is off-center are signs for Lancaster drivers that their wheels may be out of alignment.
When doing an alignment inspection, the service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will inspect your tires for uneven wear as well as suspension and steering parts for signs of wear or damage. He’ll also compare your current alignment with the vehicle manufacturer’s settings.
Your vehicle owner’s manual will have a recommendation for when to check alignment. Of course, this recommendation is based on normal driving. If you have been in a crash, hit a curb/pothole, frequently drive off-road around Lancaster, or notice any symptoms of misalignment, have your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor perform an important alignment check.
At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, we occasionally see severe tire damage that could have been prevented with proper wheel alignment. During a The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley alignment service, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires,steering and suspensionparts are inspected for problems. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the vehicle factory settings. Adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels moving in precisely the same direction.
If you don't remember hitting a pothole, how do you know if your wheels are out? The most obvious sign is that your vehicle pulls to one side. Also, your steering wheel may not be centered when you're going straight. If you're in the habit of checking your tire wear regularly, you may notice the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down. You should have your Lancaster auto service center look it over. Of course, if you've been in an accident, you should get your alignment checked.
It's not surprising that a forceful impact can seriously knock tires out, but remember that a series of smaller ones can add up. That's why your vehicle manufacturer recommends periodic alignment checks. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't advise a specific interval, once a year might be appropriate. Check with your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor. As with most other preventive maintenance services, the cost of the alignment is a heck of a lot cheaper than having to purchase new tires earlier than expected.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Causes of Wheel Misalignment
Dec 11, 2015
When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Lancaster drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like a major crash, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object. While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday Lancaster driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well. Your car can lose alignment over time with just normal driving.
When your wheels are out of alignment, the team of automotive professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can return your wheels to the factory settings. Most owners’ manuals suggest an inspection every year or two.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Signs of an Alignment Problem
Sep 23, 2015
When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Lancaster drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like an accident, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object.
While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday Lancaster driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well.
In addition, your vehicle can lose alignment over time with just normal driving. When your wheels are out of alignment, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster can return your wheels to the vehicle manufacturer’s factory settings. Most owner's manuals suggest an alignment check every year or two.
Line Them Up: Wheel Alignment Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Nov 27, 2014
Hello Lancaster! Let's talk about alignment. One of the most important parts of preventive maintenance for your vehicle is keeping the wheels in alignment. Poor alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly, which can significantly reduce their lifespan. This means you will have to replace them more often, which can be costly for drivers in Lancaster.
It can even damage your suspension system, which is costly to repair. But even more importantly, uneven tread wear can lead to blowouts on the road, a dangerous and potentially deadly safety risk for Lancaster drivers and their passengers.
It may not take an accident or bad driving habits to “knock” your tires out of alignment. Tires can go out of alignment with just everyday California driving. Lancaster road hazards, pot holes, uneven or gravel roads, and even the bumps and bounces of normal Lancaster roads and surface streets can gradually put your vehicle tires out of alignment.
So it's good auto advice to have your vehicle's alignment inspected periodically. Your vehicle's owner's manual will have recommendations on how often you should get an alignment check: usually every year or two. But if you think your vehicle tires might be out of alignment, you should bring your vehicle into The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley now.
When you bring your vehicle in for an alignment, your technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will start by inspecting the steering and suspension systems. If something is broken or damaged there, it will need to be fixed in order to get good alignment of the wheels.
If all looks good in the steering and suspension departments, the vehicle will then be put on an alignment rack where an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels can then be aligned to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications. The ideal alignment for any vehicle is set by its engineers and may vary from vehicle to vehicle.
There are three types of adjustments that may have to be made to correctly align a vehicle's tires. The first is called “toe.” This refers to tires that are out of alignment because they point inward or outward at the front of the tire. Think of a person who is pigeon-toed or splay-footed, and you get the idea.
The second adjustment is the camber. This adjustment affects the angle at which the tires meet the road. Think of a solid building in contrast to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The last adjustment is the castor. This adjustment measures the angle of the tire in relation to the front axles. So, a piece of auto advice that just might be good for life as well: keep everything in alignment, and you'll be able to steer where you want to go. Drive safely.
Most Lancaster folks worry about running out of gas or having a breakdown on the side of the road. That is why we practice preventive maintenance on our vehicles — that and to keep our repair bills down. But one important part of preventive maintenance that may get overlooked by drivers in Lancaster is a periodic alignment inspection.
Poor alignment causes tires to wear rapidly, unevenly or both. This means they will have to be replaced early, and new tires are more expensive than an alignment check in Lancaster. Bad alignment can also cause damage to suspension and steering systems, which can be expensive to repair in Lancaster.
Tire wear on misaligned wheels can also lead to blowouts, which are dangerous, can lead to serious accidents and can seriously damage your vehicle. Also, poor alignment itself can be the cause of an accident since the vehicle may not steer properly.
One or more wheels on your vehicle can be knocked out of alignment by running over a curb or a pothole on a bumpy Lancaster street. An accident — even a minor one — that involves a wheel on your car can lead to misalignment. The small bumps and bangs of everyday driving can also gradually put your wheels out of alignment.
If you have had wheel damage to your vehicle, or if you suspect that your wheels are out of alignment, you should get your alignment checked NOW. Any service center will give you that piece of auto advice. But good vehicle care suggests that you also get your alignment inspected on a regular basis. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, we can take care of that for you.
Your owner's manual or The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can give you a suggestion on how often your alignment should be checked. If it doesn't, then once a year is a good rule of thumb. However, if you drive a lot — and especially if you drive on rough surfaces a lot — then you may want to consider alignment more often. Ask the pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for a recommendation.
If your vehicle is out of alignment, one or more of the wheels is not tracking correctly and will “pull” against the others. Thus, one sign of poor alignment is that your vehicle pulls to one side when you drive around Lancaster. Also, if you are driving a straight path and your steering wheel is off-center, that usually indicates an alignment problem.
Lancaster drivers should also check the wear on their tires. If they seem to be wearing out too quickly, or if you notice that a tire is wearing on one side more than the other, you should get your alignment checked.
When you get an alignment inspection, your vehicle will be put on a rack and all the parts of the steering and suspension systems will be inspected for wear or damage. The alignment of the tires will be charted and compared to the original factory settings. If no repairs are needed on the steering or suspension systems, the wheels will then be adjusted to bring them back into alignment.
This may seem like a lot of bother for drivers, but it's a lot less trouble than a blowout or an accident. The old adage is good auto advice for all Lancaster residents: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So keep on driving, and keep all four tires on the road.
All Lined Up: Wheel Alignment Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Apr 30, 2013
When all of your vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Lancaster can cause your vehicle's wheels to be out of alignment.
Driving for an extended time around Lancaster when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded California highway. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.
The ideal alignment for your vehicle was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything's bent or broken. Then your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician will look at tire condition.
From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to vehicle’s specifications.
Your vehicle owner's manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.
Trip Inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Feb 26, 2013
Lancaster area drivers love their vehicles. And one of the most enjoyable things about them is taking a road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like vehicle trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now Lancaster drivers can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle's perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding California byways? Purple mountain majesties or fruited plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How far will you travel each day? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Pulling a trailer, roof top carrier or ATVs? Will it be dusty?
Prepared with answers to these questions, you can schedule a trip inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster to help you prepare your vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Lancaster customers prefer to go through this exercise with their friendly and knowledgeable service advisor to get their input and make sure they haven't overlooked anything.
A great place for Lancaster drivers to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job? You wouldn't want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure on California rock-crawling trails.
Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you'll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that's pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.
And don't forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster before you leave.
Moving under the hood, have a belts and hoses inspection. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Talk to your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley.
Your engine air filter will be inspected. Your car's air filter will process 12,000 times as much air as the fuel burned by the engine. If the filter needs to be changed, you'll notice improvements on your trip.
How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it's due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don't need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could be as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it's an exhaust leak, it could be fatal for Lancaster drivers and their passengers on a long trip. Of course you'll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren't getting the cold air you’re used to.
Are your wiper blades still working well? If not, that is a quick and inexpensive fix for Lancaster drivers. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven't changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip and provide the necessary after-sundown visibility.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all become more important as you plan for your trip.
They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient stops and delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?
Power Steering Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Oct 23, 2012
Many Lancaster drivers have been hearing about technological advances in power steering, specifically electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering. Power steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects vehicle components from rust and corrosion.
Lancaster car owners should be aware that vehicle manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.
Unfortunately, many Lancaster drivers don't realize how important it is to service their power steering, and some may not even know that it's necessary in the first place. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks that will shorten the life of the pump.
Lancaster drivers should be aware of warnings that indicate possible power steering problems: the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you're experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley includes an inspection of steering components.
See if you notice any of these: play in the steering wheel, the steering wheel is off center, or there's a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning. If so, have your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure.
Fuel Saving Tip: Alignment for Your Lancaster Vehicle
Sep 14, 2012
Imagine you've left Lancaster and you're up in the arctic on a dog sled.
Your dog team is pulling straight and true. You can cover a lot of ground quickly. Now imagine what would happen if one or two of the dogs wanted to go their own way and were pulling off to the side.
That would slow you down. You would have to work harder to keep the sled going where you want it. The dogs are all working as hard as before, but you're covering less ground for the same effort.
You're wasting kibble.
The same is true of your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment. That wheel that's pulling to the side is dragging down the rest of the vehicle; so you push a little harder on the gas pedal to keep up your speed. You're wasting gas.
So have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year. It is important to get it checked right away if you feel the vehicle pulling to one side.
Sometimes we Lancaster residents bump a curb or hit a pothole and knock our wheels out of alignment. An accident can take the wheels out of alignment as well.
Lancaster residents need to make sure they're tracking straight. You'll get better fuel economy and your tires'll last longer. Now, mush!