What Is Wheel Tracking?
In the intricate world of automotive care, “wheel tracking” holds a crucial yet often misunderstood role. It goes beyond a routine adjustment; it is an important process that ensures your vehicle’s wheels are perfectly aligned, leading to a safer and more efficient driving experience. In this article, we look at wheel tracking, wheel balancing and highlighting its impact on vehicle performance, safety, and maintenance.
Understanding Wheel Tracking vs Wheel Alignment
First off, when we talk about wheel alignment, we’re referring to a rather thorough process. It’s all about adjusting your car’s wheels to the angles recommended by the manufacturer. Why bother, you ask? Well, it’s crucial for making sure your car drives straight, without veering off to one side. This isn’t just about a smoother ride; it also means less wear on your tyres, better handling, and ensuring your steering wheel isn’t off-centre when you’re cruising along a straight road.
Now, onto wheel tracking. Often, you’ll hear people use this term interchangeably with wheel alignment. However, there’s a slight nuance here. Wheel tracking, in some cases, specifically refers to making sure the wheels are perfectly parallel to each other and at the right angle to the ground. Think of it as a part of the whole wheel alignment process.
How Is Wheel Tracking Different From Wheel Balancing?
Wheel balancing is the process of equalising the weight of a tyre and wheel assembly to ensure smooth rotation. When your wheels are not balanced correctly, it can cause vibrations in the steering wheel and vehicle, leading to an uncomfortable driving experience.
It also puts unnecessary stress on your car’s suspension system and tyres, which can result in uneven tyre wear, increased fuel consumption, and reduced overall vehicle performance. Wheel balancing should be done every 5,000 – 6,000 miles or as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.
So, wheel alignment adjusts the angles of the tyres while wheel balancing ensures that the weight of the wheel and tyre is evenly distributed.
Why Wheel Tracking Matters
Proper wheel tracking and balancing play a significant role in maintaining the safety of your vehicle. Misaligned wheels can cause handling issues, including pulling to one side, difficulty steering, and poor stability. This can be especially dangerous in emergency situations or adverse weather conditions, as it can lead to loss of control over your vehicle. Additionally, vibrations caused by imbalanced wheels can affect your ability to steer and react quickly while driving.
In terms of vehicle maintenance, ensuring the correct wheel alignment and balance not only enhances safety but also impacts the overall maintenance of your vehicle. Correctly aligned wheels reduce the strain on your suspension system, preventing premature wear and tear on important components such as shock absorbers and springs. It also helps to prolong the life of your tyres and improve fuel economy, saving you money in the long run.
Signs Your Wheels May Need Alignment
Recognising the signs of misalignment is crucial for maintaining vehicle performance and safety. In addition to steering difficulties and uneven tyre wear, there are other indicators:
- Vibrations: A vibrating steering wheel can often signal misalignment.
- Squealing Tyres: When tyres are not aligned properly, they might squeal due to the abnormal friction with the road.
- Misaligned Steering Wheel: Even when driving straight, if your steering wheel isn’t centered, it might indicate alignment issues.
- Handling Issues: If your car doesn’t handle corners as effectively or feels unstable during turns, this could be due to misalignment.
- Increased Fuel Consumption: Poor alignment can increase rolling resistance, leading to higher fuel consumption.
Regular checks and adjustments can prevent these issues from escalating, ensuring a smoother, safer drive. Did you know that regularly checking your car wheel alignment can extend the life of your tyres by up to 12,000 miles? Book a free wheel alignment check today!
How Much Is Wheel Tracking?
Investing in wheel tracking (wheel alignment) is cost-effective in the long run, considering the benefits of reduced tyre wear and improved fuel efficiency. Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs*:
- 2 wheel alignment: £36* (inc. VAT)
- 4 wheel alignment: £72* (inc. VAT)
- Front camber: £30* (inc. VAT)
- Rear camber: £30* (inc. VAT)
- Both cambers: £60*
- 4 wheel alignment + front and rear camber: £132*
* Pricing accurate at the time of writing (December 2023)
Is Wheel Tracking Part of a Car MOT?
No, wheel tracking isn’t a part of the standard MOT (Ministry of Transport) test, which is a legal requirement in the UK to ensure that vehicles meet road safety and environmental standards. However, the effects of poor wheel tracking, like uneven tyre wear, can be flagged during an MOT.
Conclusion: Your Move Towards Better Driving
We cannot stress enough the importance of checking wheel alignment regularly as it should be part of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Too many motorists neglect this step, which can lead to serious and expensive issues down the line. Properly aligned wheels can help keep long-term running costs down while ensuring the vehicle is safe to drive.
If you’ve noticed any signs of misalignment, or if it’s been a while since your last check, it’s time to consider a wheel tracking service. At Elite Garages, we offer comprehensive wheel alignment services tailored to your needs. Visit the website to learn more about wheel tracking, tyres, car MOT and servicing. Alternatively, contact your nearest Elite Garages branch for more information and pricing.