The Importance of Proper Front End Alignment
It is important to remember that when installing wider tires and/or wider wheels with more negative offset than factory and when ride height is changed, especially on late model IFS (Independent Front Suspension) equipped foreign & domestic P/U’s & SUV’s, it also changes alignment settings and load on the steering components.
When front-end alignment goes uncorrected, it shows up on the tread surface of tires which have excessive wear to the inside or outside portion of the tread. The same can be said of tires with a ‘chopped’ and/or ‘feathered’ look to the tread. Most often, we can trace tires requested for adjustment due to “fast tread wear” back to a vehicle with poor or uncorrected front-end alignment.
Here is the way to avoid this unwarrantable problem:
- Correct changes in front end alignment due to torsion bar or spring adjustment, lift or lowering kit installation, severe off road use, wheel width and/or offset or some combination of the above.
Note: Brand name suspension manufacturers and vendors always recommend front-end alignment after lift or lowering kit installation or suspension height adjustments.
- While a steering stabilizer is a good idea with the installation of any tire/wheel combination larger than OE, and may disguise the ‘feel’ (darting, hunting, wandering, wheel shimmy) that goes along with poor alignment, it will not fix this. Only a competent alignment to suggested specs is sufficient. This may also mean replacing worn suspension/steering components such as ball joints, tie-rod ends, idler/pitman arm, control arm bushings and wheel/axle bearings. Even on low mileage vehicles, this is important, due to the possibility of low quality original equipment components.
Finally, vehicles with oversize tires and wheels may need more frequent alignments, due to increased load on suspension and steering components. Proper maintenance and alignment will not only increase tire life and driveability, it will also extend the life of suspension and steering components.
Bottom line = Check your vehicle for worn suspension/steering components before/when suspension height is altered and geometry changed; after worn components replaced, if any needed, get it aligned. Tires being adjusted for fast/uneven tread wear on vehicles with poor alignment will not be warranted.