(703) 352-7770 |  3215 Old Pickett Road, Fairfax, VA 22031  |  Mon–Fri: 8:00am–6:00pm (After Hours Key Dropoff Available)

Do You Need A Wheel Alignment or Front End Alignment?

February 24, 2023

Car wheel clamp with wheel align device for wheel alignment in workshop

The wheels on your vehicle should point straight and contact the road at the right angle to deliver the best driving experience. If your wheels are not in alignment, it can negatively impact your vehicle’s handling characteristics and damage your tires. As such, it’s best to schedule wheel alignment according to the manufacturer’s suggested interval or whenever you need one. 

Because your vehicle has four tires, most assume that wheel alignment involves all four tires. While it makes perfect sense, this isn’t always the case. Many vehicles only need a front-end alignment in Fairfax VA. Let’s take a closer look at the wheel alignment vs front-end alignment in Fairfax VA. And if you need “auto repair near me”, suspension repair, or any other service, don’t hesitate to contact the mechanic at ABS Unlimited Auto Repair in Fairfax VA

What Is a Wheel Alignment in Fairfax VA?

Wheel alignment involves adjusting the angles of your suspension components and steering back to the manufacturer’s specifications. In other words, wheel alignment is when your rear and front wheels are aligned with the vehicle’s centerline. Properly aligned wheels can optimize fuel efficiency and improve drivability. Wheel alignments are completed with special machinery that measures the angles of your wheels against original specifications. 

Driving on bumpy highways, dirt roads, and potholes can throw your vehicle out of alignment. Here are the top signs you should schedule wheel alignment: 

  • Rapid or uneven tire wear.
  • Your steering wheel is crooked, even if you’re driving straight.
  • Noisy steering.
  • Your vehicle is pulling to the right or left.

If you notice any of these signs, it makes dollars and sense to schedule a wheel alignment or an inspection at least

Different Types of Wheel Alignment: 4-Wheel vs Front-Wheel vs Thrust Alignment 

When it comes to wheel alignment, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, there are different types of wheel alignments. 

What Is a 4-Wheel Alignment in Fairfax VA?

During 4-wheel alignment, our mechanic will carefully adjust each of the four wheels back to the manufacturer’s specifications. The angles of adjustment can vary from the rear to the front wheels. For the front wheels, the adjustment includes three key measurements:

  • The toe angle is the most important one for tire life. This measurement determines how much the rear or front wheels are turned out or in from a straight-ahead position. 
  • The caster angle identifies the backward or forward slope of a line drawn through the lower and upper steering pivot points. The caster angle doesn’t necessarily impact tire wear. It impacts the level of directional control you have when steering. 
  • The camber angle is the outward and inward tile of your tire and wheel assembly when viewed from the front of your vehicle. The camber angle can be either negative or positive. 

The rear wheel adjustment will only include the camber and toe angles. In either case, all-wheel angles are adjusted back to the center of the vehicle by measuring the rear axle angles and then the front axle angles. 

What Is a Front-Wheel Alignment in Fairfax VA?

The front-wheel alignment or 2-wheel alignment is when the technician only adjusts the front wheels related to the toe, caster, and camber. They are maneuvered to run parallel to the center of your vehicle. Although the front-wheel alignment is the most basic alignment service, it’s not suggested for modern vehicles because it ignores the rear angles of the wheels. 

What Is Thrust Alignment in Fairfax VA?

A third type of wheel alignment is the thrust alignment for vehicles without an adjustable rear suspension system. During the thrust alignment, only the front wheels are adjusted. These wheels are adjusted to be aligned as close as possible to where the two rear wheels are pointed, which is the thrust line. These wheels are adjusted to the center of the vehicle by initially measuring the rear angles of the axles and then the front.

Contact ABS Unlimited Auto Repair in Fairfax VA for Wheel Alignment

Whether you need a front-end alignment or a 4-wheel alignment, ABS Unlimited in Fairfax VA can help. We leverage the latest and most advanced equipment to quickly and efficiently restore the angles of your wheels and suspension. 

Contact ABS Unlimited today in Fairfax VA for the best “mechanic near me”. Call us today at (703)352-7770, stop by to see us at 3215 Old Picket Road in Fairfax VA, or complete our online contact form.