How to Diagnose an Alignment Problem

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If a car is pulling to the left or right and an alignment problem is suspected, it's helpful to check the tires for excess wear and tear. Let a car coast in a safe area to determine if there's an alignment problem with help from an auto mechanic in this free video on car repair and diagnostics.

Part of the Video Series: Auto Repair & Diagnostics
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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Tom Brintzenhofe. I'm a certified master mechanic, out of Reading, Pennsylvania, and today, we're going to talk about how to diagnose an alignment problem. As you all know, driving down the road, you've got to hold onto that steering wheel, it's just pulling you one way or the other. A good way to find out what's going on, is to keep an eye on your tires. Today, we've got this 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and this is a good example, right here, of an alignment problem. Now, we have excess wear. You see the tread is wearing off, on the outside edge of this tire, from the middle on out. If it was wearing off, it could wear off, just in the middle, or the inside edge. If it's wearing off uneven, you've got a lot more wear out here, than you have on the rest of the tire. This way here is telling your tire, it's pointing a little too far, to the inside of the vehicle. It's a little bit too much, of what they call toe-in. If it was wore off on the inside of the tire more or less, that means your tire is pointing a little bit too far, to the outside. That's what they call toe-out. If you've got too much wear right here on the inside of your tire, that's usually from over inflation. You've got way too much air pressure in the tire. If you have more wear on both sides of your tire, than you do on the inside of the tire, that's usually from being under inflated. If you see more or less, like the tire is actually showing signs, like it's melting, wearing at a cross section, that's usually from excess driving. We all have a little fun with that, every once in a while, but other than that, the easiest way to diagnose an alignment problem, is find a nice level parking lot somewhere, where there is no vehicles, no kids floating around playing, and just take it about twenty five, thirty five miles an hour, nice and slow, foot off the brake, and just let it coast, and like I say, it must be in a level parking lot, and see which way it drifts. The other real simple way, a lot of different garages out there, will do it for free. They'll put it on a line rack, and let you know, if or how your alignment is actually out, and then they'll give you the correct procedures, what they'll need to do, to address the situation. Alignments are not hard at all, to correct alignment problems, but the biggest thing is, if you want to know outside, if your vehicle is not pulling at all, but you still have a problem. Keep an eye on the wear on your tire. It's just that simple. Your tire will tell you, what's going on with your vehicle.

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