The Drake Auto team of Sterling, Virginia has the latest state of the art alignment machine available in the industry today. Our Hunter HawkEye Elite alignment system uses precision cameras to measure the targets on the wheels instead of older less accurate alignment machines that have the electronics on each wheel. With features like live ride height we can make even the finest adjustments to get the perfect alignment every time.
A good alignment machine in the hands of a skilled technician can make the difference between 5,000 mile tire life and a 50,000 mile tire life. Many tire problems are caused by misalignment. A bent control arm from a pothole impact or a bent tie rod from sliding into a curb in the snow can be hard to diagnose with older alignment technology.
Other tire problems like feathering and scalloping can be caused by worn suspension components like shock and struts or loose ball joints. The art is in being able to use modern technology to display things like thrust angle and steering axis inclination to properly diagnose what is causing premature tire wear.
Tires are one of the most expensive things that need to be replaced at a predetermined interval on your vehicle. When you spend extra money to get a 70,000 mile tire and it only lasts 50,000 miles due to poor alignment you have not spent your money well. You may have been better off getting a 50,000 mile tire and an alignment and saving money.
Automotive alignments don’t last forever. Even if you never hit a curb or a pothole your alignment can change. With as little as 20,000 miles on a car the suspension springs can start to sag. If they sag evenly you may never notice a difference in the steering wheel angle or the car pulling to one side or the other. But the alignment will be off since ride height effects a tire angle called camber and camber angle effects another angle called toe. Both camber and toe are tire wearing angles. They can cause uneven treadwear called scrubbing. Which can be noticed by running your hand in one direction around the tire tread and then moving in the other direction you can feel sharp edges on the rubber tread. This can contribute to tire noise and poor handling since the whole tire tread is not contacting the road. Tire noise is a symptom telling us something is wrong. Scalloping or uneven tread wear can lead to poor handling or hydroplaning since the whole tire tread is not contacting the road.
Proper alignment has a safety factor also. A poorly aligned car will not respond properly to steering wheel input and may cause unsafe handling characteristics with the vehicle.
Driving in heavy traffic like we have in our local Northern Virginia areas or even in the suburbs like Sterling and Ashburn, VA you may have to make fast driving decisions. And if your car’s alignment is not up to the task an unfavorable situation may result. Many manufacturers recommend an alignment check once a year or every 12,000 miles. We are serving Sterling, Ashburn, Leesburg, Herndon, Reston and all surrounding towns in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
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