There are several things a person can do to ensure they will get the maximum life and performance out of their tires. Vehicle alignment is another step one can take to ensure they are getting the most out of their tires. Improper alignment can cause premature and uneven wear on tires. A proper alignment does not only help maximize the wear of tires, but it aids in the overall performance of the vehicle, and fuel economy by ensuring that it maintains a straight trajectory while driving forward.
CAMBER is the angle of the tires centerline when looking at a vehicle head on. It is usually referred to as negative or positive camber, depending if the tire is angled inward or outward when looking at the front or rear of a vehicle. The tilt angle is measured in degrees with 0 degrees being a tire that has no inward or outward tilt on its centerline. Many factors can contribute to improper camber, such as worn bearings, ball joints, and other suspension components. These parts should be inspected (and repaired or replaced as needed) before making adjustments to camber.
CASTER is the angle of the tire’s centerline when looking at the side of a vehicle. Positive caster is when the tire’s centerline is angled towards the front of the vehicle and negative caster is when the tire’s centerline is angled towards the rear of the vehicle. Caster is one of the more difficult vehicle alignment specifications to visualize and many vehicles do not always offer an adjustment for it.
The TOE is the most common of the three alignment measurements. Toe is the angle of the tire’s centerline when looking from the top of the vehicle. Usually referred to as either toe in, when the tires are pointing inward toward each other, or toe out when the tires are pointing outward and away from each other. It is important to maintain proper tow alignment to maximize the life of a tire. Too much toe angle in either inward or outward positions can cause the tires to scrub against the road surface and can lead to irregular tire wear along the edges.