Straight as an Arrow: How Technicians Operate an Alignment System
One of the exciting responsibilities of an automotive technician is making sure that a vehicle’s alignment is straight so a driver can experience precise and safe control and handling on the road. Commonly part of a routine service appointment, this procedure is an important one, placing a lot of emphasis on a technician to perform the process effectively.
Students in our Automotive Technology program will learn how to operate a Hunter Four-Wheel Alignment System as part of their curriculum, and we’re here to give you a glimpse into how it works.
What Automotive Technicians Check
Proper alignment depends several wheel and suspension aspects:
- Camber: Refers to the angle of a tire. A negative camber means that a tire is tilting inward, while a positive camber means that it’s tilting out.
- Caster: Refers to the angle of the steering pivot. Caster problems are identified by lateral tire marks.
- Toe: Identifies the directional point of a tire. Toe-in means that it’s off center and pointing in, and toe-out means that it’s off center and point out.
- Thrust Angle: Refers to the rear axle’s perpendicularity to the front axle. If the thrust angle is not consistent, it needs to be repositioned.
A technician will enter a vehicle’s year, make, and model into the alignment system’s computer, which will determine the OEM alignment specifications, since different vehicles have different alignments. The vehicle being aligned will then be driven onto the alignment rack, and targets will be mounted onto all four wheels.
The alignment system will then measure the current toe, caster, thrust, and camber angles and provide a diagnostic report, which identifies any inconsistencies. If there’s a need for rear alignment adjustments, they should be carried out before moving to the front-end alignments.
Technicians will work through the alignment software to indicate the problems and direct the alignment system to the correct angles. This use of modern technology provides precise readings for automotive technicians and allows for a time-friendly alignment process.
The Need for Alignment
Not only is it important for drivers to have an efficient alignment system for safe control and handling, but it’s also important to facilitate longevity for tires and the vehicle. When a vehicle has misaligned toes, cambers, and casters, they’re wearing down the tires’ tread faster, which will be costly and will reduce the effectiveness of braking. An alignment system will help to maintain a vehicle’s longevity.
Operating an alignment system requires automotive technicians to be proficient in modern technology. Because this is a major responsibility, understanding misaligned toes, cambers, castors, and thrust angles is necessary for those trying to enter the automotive industry workforce.
With our Automotive Technology program, our students learn how an alignment system operates, part of the necessary training they need to apply for entry-level automotive technician jobs. Hands-on training helps our students work toward becoming capable and efficient future technicians.
You can learn more about the responsibilities of an automotive technician by downloading our free ebook 7 Maintenance Tips for Preserving Speed and Power in a High-Performance Vehicle.