It may surprise you to know that the wheels on your vehicle are not straight and, in fact, they're not supposed to be straight. The engineers that built your car didn't design them that way. Instead, they saw the benefit of using some subtle improvements they could make to help improve the stability, drive and cornering of your vehicle. There are 3 angles that are applied to your wheels and each has a different function to help your vehicle perform better and stay on the road.
The Toe angle, when imagined from above, can be thought of as your wheels pointing outward (Toe out) or inward (Toe in). In a Toe out condition the steering will be incredibly sensitive, responding to every tweak or pull of the steering wheel. In a passenger car this is a danger as all drivers make minor, unconscious steering adjustments as they travel – even in a straight line.
On passenger vehicles, manufacturers therefore opt for a Toe In condition which reduces steering sensitivity, prevents minor steering adjustments from impacting the straight-line motion of the car and significantly increases the straight line stability of the vehicle.
Have you ever noticed that should you let go of the steering while driving the vehicle will always return to a straight line? To be clear we're not recommending that you let go of your steering wheel while driving but most drivers use this remarkable feature without thinking.
From a safety point of view it makes sense to have your vehicle return to the "straight" position should you lose control of the steering. This return motion is achieved through some simple engineering principles, and controlled by the Caster angle helping increase vehicle stability and vehicle control.
The Camber angle is important in managing the high frictional forces placed on the wheels while cornering. As the car corners the ‘weight’ is shifted to the outside wheels through a Centripetal Force. This movement creates friction, particularly in the wheels on the outside edge, and is successfully managed by good quality tyres. At extremes though, the tyres can deform under the increased pressure and lose contact with the road. This causes reduced friction and becomes a potential hazard to yourself and other road users.
When viewed from the front of the vehicle the Camber angle is seen as the top of the tyres tilted slightly inward. Manufacturers will determine the best Camber angle for your vehicle and a Hunter Wheel Alignment will ensure that your journey is safe and trouble free.
Over time, the manufacturers settings become out of alignment. This is caused by general wear and tear, potholes or damaged components and should always be considered during routine maintenance or MoTs.