It may come as a surprise, but knowing the difference between front-end alignment and 4-wheel alignment is important for drivers and people that work on cars. After all, both adjust your tires and wheels to make sure that your car can move in a straight line. This article will break down the difference between the two, and help you decide which one you need for your vehicle.
What is a Front-End Alignment?
A front-end alignment is the tuning of the front suspension to reduce wear and tear on your tires. Front-end alignments are performed to tighten up the steering, improve handling, and improve tire life. It can also be performed to correct a pull to one side or the other.
What is a Four-Wheel Alignment?
A four-wheel alignment is a service that ensures that your vehicle is in the best possible position by using computerized equipment, including lasers. If needed, missing parts can also be replaced. A front-end alignment doesn’t require replacement of any parts and is used only to correct the geometry of the suspension system.
The Difference in Process
Front-end alignment is often performed by a technician who looks at the front of your car. This process is quick and easy, but the alignment may not be perfect. There's also a chance that certain parts of your car could wear more quickly. Four-wheel alignment is more thorough and typically involves checking the steering wheel, tie rods, track bar, suspension mounts, and other parts. The downside? It takes longer to complete because you're checking everything.
How to tell if your vehicle needs a Front-End Alignment or 4-Wheel Alignment?
The difference between a 4-Wheel Alignment and Front-End Alignment depends on the symptoms. When you feel pulling to one side while driving or an obvious alignment problem, you need to get your vehicle aligned. The symptoms for Front-End Alignment are usually excessive front tire wear, steering wheel pulling to one side, steering wheel shaking, and uneven tire wear.
Tips for Getting Your Vehicle Ready for an Alignment
The types of vehicles that you drive can have an impact on the cost for an alignment. Front-wheel drive vehicles are more common in the city, while four-wheel drive vehicles are more popular in rural areas. The type of vehicle you own will be important when calculating the cost because some shops charge a flat fee for all alignments, while others charge by the hour or by how many wheels need to be aligned.
Why Does Alignment Matter?
A vehicle's alignment is the process used to set its suspension and steering angles to match factory specifications. If these angles are not set correctly then there will be uneven tire wear causing vibrations at highway speeds, noise during braking, and suspension problems.
Front-end alignment helps to maintain the suspension geometry of the vehicle. This is done by keeping the wheels parallel with one another. The other type, four-wheel alignment, helps to balance your tires so that they are positioned in a way that reduces your chances of getting uneven tire wear.
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