When Are 4×4 Alignments necessary?

If you own a 4×4 Jeep or lifted truck, you know that a 4×4 alignment is an important part of maintaining your vehicle’s performance and safety. But when should you perform a 4×4 alignment, and what are the steps involved? In this blog post, we’ll explore these questions and more to help you understand the importance of a 4×4 alignment and how they can benefit your vehicle. If you would like to see in depth video discussing alignments and lifted suspensions check out these two informative videos we filmed in the shop!

 

Why is a 4×4 alignment necessary?

There are several reasons why an alignment is necessary for your vehicle. If you’ve made any upgrades or alterations to your suspension, an alignment will ensure optimal tire life and that your vehicle handles appropriately. This is especially important for off-road enthusiasts who have installed lift kits or other suspension modifications, as small changes in ride height can have dramatic effects to a vehicle’s alignment.

If you’re experiencing poor handling characteristics such as pulling to one side or difficulty maintaining a straight line, a 4×4 alignment can help to resolve those issues. This will improve your driving experience, making your vehicle safer and more enjoyable to operate. Here at Mount Zion Off-Road we rely on only the latest and greatest in alignment equipment and perform our services with Hunter Engineering products learn more about Hunter by clicking HERE.

What are the steps of a 4×4 alignment?

A 4×4 alignment typically consists of several steps. First, our technician will check the tire pressure to ensure that it is at the recommended level. Next, they will inspect all steering & suspension components for wear. Lastly the technician installs the wheel targets and performs a “rolling compensation”. During the “roll comp” procedure our specialized Hunter Hawkeye Alignment machine can accurately measure caster, camber and toe of each wheel, as well as thrust angle.

Understanding Caster, Camber & Toe

Toe is simply the angle at which the wheels are pointing in relation to the centerline of the vehicle. This is important for ensuring that the vehicle does not “wander” or “dart” when steering. On a vehicle with a solid rear axle, toe is only adjusted on the front wheels.

Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the tire when viewed from the front of the vehicle. This specification is measured as positive or negative, and most alignment specs call for the top of the wheel to tilt in towards the center of the vehicle just a few degrees, which would be a negative camber.

Caster is referred to as the steering pivot, when viewed from the side of the vehicle. All steering joints are designed to pivot at an angle, so caster should never be zero degrees! This angle is what causes your steering wheel to naturally “return to center” after turning. If the top of the pivot is leaning toward the rear of the car, then the caster is positive, if it is leaning toward the front, it is negative. Caster is extremely important for proper vehicle handling and steering feel. A 4×4 alignment at Mount Zion Off-Road can correct any of these issues before they become dangerous.

Camber, Toe & Caster examples showing positive and negative aspects of both
Your Jeep or Truck’s Camber, Toe & Caster are all very important and being out of alignment in your 4×4 vehicle can cause damage to products you spend your hard earned money on. See this article from MotorTrend on just how Toe angle can effect a Jeep 4×4 Steering Wheel Alignment

How to achieve perfect alignment specs for a lifted Jeep, Truck or 4×4?

Now that we have discussed what the essentials of a 4×4 alignment are, we should talk about how they related to a vehicle with a modified suspension. Generally the goal with any lifted (or lowered) vehicle alignment is to achieve the alignment specifications determined by the vehicle manufacturer. Often specialty adjustable components such as control arms, track bars, ball joints, cam bolts are necessary to provide additional adjustment beyond what is available standard.

Read out of 4x4 Alignment check
Mount Zion Off-Road employee checks a 4×4 alignment

How often do I need to align my truck’s suspension?

The frequency with which you need to have your truck’s suspension aligned will depend on several factors. If you’ve installed any upgraded aftermarket parts, such as a lift kit, heavy duty steering or larger wheels and tires, you may need to have your alignment done more often. This is because these modifications can cause increased wear and tear on your suspension components. Additionally, if you frequently take your vehicle off-road, you may need to have your 4×4 alignment done more often. The rugged conditions of off-road trails can cause damage to steering or suspension components and increased wear and tear on your suspension, leading to misalignment over time.

Finally, even if you don’t make any modifications to your vehicle or frequently take it off-road, regular wear and tear can still cause your suspension to become misaligned. It’s a good idea to have your alignment checked at least once a year, or more frequently if you notice any driving difficulties or uneven tire wear.

In conclusion, a 4×4 alignment is an essential maintenance task for jeep and truck owners who want to ensure that their vehicles are operating at their best. By having your alignment done regularly, you can improve your vehicle’s performance and safety as well as increase tire life. If you have any questions about when to have your 4×4 alignment done or what to expect during the process, head to our alignment services page or complete the form below!