How does a Collision Alignment Differ from a Regular Wheel Alignment?
When a mechanic mentions that your vehicle could use an alignment, what does that mean? Generally speaking (very generally), signs that a vehicle may need a standard wheel alignment might include:
- Vehicle pulling to one side
- Uneven tire tread wear
- Crooked steering wheel (when driving straight ahead)
- Wheel vibration
A standard wheel alignment for a vehicle involves calibrating your vehicle’s caster, camber and toe. These are angles that measure how the wheel is mounted to the vehicle and also measures how the vehicle steers.
During a collision alignment, we check rear camber, rear toe, front caster, camber and toe as well as the thrust angle, steering axis inclination and included angle. The reason for this is that the potential change to alignment resulting from a collision is greater than that which results from a few pothole whacks throughout the year. Accordingly, these additional angles that are checked in a collision alignment are meant to verify that the chassis parts as well as the unibody or frame are all in correct alignment.
It is very important after a collision that you have a comprehensive alignment like this done (as opposed to a regular wheel alignment) in order to verify that all work completed on the vehicle was completed correctly. Every car that has suspension or frame work done here at our shop goes through a full collision alignment in order to verify that the vehicle repairs were completed properly and that the vehicle will ride, steer and stop correctly after it is returned to our customer.