Factors Involved in a Wheel Alignment

Factors Involved in a Wheel Alignment

Correct wheel alignment is crucial for safe handling and long tyre life. If you are experiencing hard steering, poor driveability and premature failure of suspension parts, there’s a good chance your alignment needs to be checked. Aligning a car involves the adjustment of the vehicle’s suspension, and the direction and the angles that the tyres point in after the alignment is complete are critically important. There are four main factors involved in setting the alignment to specification: caster, camber, toe and tracking.

Toe and Tracking

The two most critical alignment settings for front-end tyre wear. Toe describes whether the fronts of the tyres are closer (toe-in) or farther apart (toe-out) than the rears of the tyres and is the most commonly needed alignment adjustment. Having too much toe, either in or out, will make the front wheels fight each other, resulting in instability at higher speeds, and substantially increased tyre wear. Tracking, or thrust, is gauged relative to the vehicle centreline, and tracking misalignment also causes inside and outside tyre wear.

Camber

Camber is the tilt of the top of the tyre according to how it sits on the road and is important for several reasons. Its main purpose is to keep the tyre flat on the road while the vehicle is loaded and in motion. If you are looking at the wheels on a vehicle, having the top of the tyre tilting in towards the vehicle is called negative camber, and if the top of the wheel is tilting out from the vehicle, this is positive camber. To allow for even tyre wear, most vehicles are set to neutral or slightly negative camber. Having too much negative camber will wear the inside of the tyres, and having too much positive camber will cause the outside of the tyre to wear quicker. Camber is the one adjustment that can be set according to driving habits.

Caster

Caster is the angle of the steering axis and is only set on the front suspension of a vehicle. Caster is important to steering feel and high-speed stability, and it does not usually affect tyre wear. On most vehicles caster angle is set in a positive manner which assists in steering and vehicle stability at higher speeds. Caster also helps the steering wheel return to the centre after turning,

Signs You Need a Wheel Alignment

There are some noticeable signs that could indicate your vehicle needs a wheel alignment. You may be able to spot poor alignment by sight, but there are other common signs including:

  • The vehicle excessively pulls to one side – A vehicle should drive straight ahead with very little effort on the steering wheel. If your vehicle pulls to the left or the right, it’s time to have your alignment checked and corrected.
  • The steering wheel is not straight/centred – If you’re driving straight down a flat, level road, the steering wheel should be sitting close to perfectly straight. If the wheel is off centre by more than a few degrees, you need a wheel alignment.
  • Uneven tyre wear – Wear on only the inside or outside edges of tyres indicates a problem with the camber adjustment. Feathering of the tyres often indicates a problem with the toe adjustment.
  • Loose handling – If your steering feels a bit unstable or loose while driving, you should have the alignment checked.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then book your vehicle in for a wheel alignment with a qualified mechanic. Incorrect wheel alignment can create a host of problems, so it’s best to get the vehicle inspected as soon as it’s noticed.

AME Auto are Perth’s leading vehicle servicing specialists. We can provide a full range of vehicle maintenance services including wheel alignments, tyre repairs, replacement tyres, log book servicing and more. Contact us today to make an appointment with our experienced and professional automotive team.

6 Signs Your Car Needs a Service

A regular car service should happen every 6 months or 10,000kms, whichever comes first. Sometimes, however, an issue comes up unexpectedly with your vehicle. If your car won’t start or your engine is blowing smoke then these are clear signs there’s a problem that needs attention, but what are some of the less obvious signs? At AME Automotive, we are the car service specialists in Perth. We’ve put together a list of six signs that you need to book your car in for a service.

car service perth

Warning Lights

A normal illuminated check engine light is not a cause for panic, but instead an indicator that you should have your engine checked sooner rather than later. Pay attention to any other warning lights, dashboard warning lights are configured to illuminate when the area they are monitoring is not functioning properly, so they are a sign your engine needs attention.

Weak Starts

All cars should still have a crisp and strong start. When you turn the key in the ignition, the engine should come to life quickly and then settle into a steady hum before you drive off. If you have noticed any change to this, there is likely to be a problem. Some allowance should be given for seasonal conditions – a car may start a little slower on a cold winter morning, but overall it should be quick and punchy every time the key is turned.

Abnormal Vibrations

Keep an eye and ear out for vibrations and shudders that are not down to the surface of the road. This could be an indicator of worn tyres that are in need of balancing or even a weakening in a joint or loosening of a bearing. This is something that is better left to the professionals to diagnose.

Strange Noises

If you hear a noise that sounds unusual, it is important to get it checked. Noises are often a solid indicator of an underlying issue. Some noises indicate certain problems:

  • A high pitched squeal when turning the ignition on could indicate that the belt is worn or loose
  • Squealing noises when on the move could indicate that your power steering fluid could need replacing
  • Squealing or grinding when slowing down is clear indication that your brakes need to be checked
  • A dragging or droning noise may be coming from your wheels, either in the front or the back, and could be a wheel bearing or differential bearing going bad

If you notice any unusual noises, take your vehicle into your local automotive mechanic for a service. A qualified mechanic will be able to provide further diagnosis.

Excessive Emissions

If you notice any excessive clouds of smoke or you are frequently leaving black clouds in your rear view mirror, it could be a sign of an oil leak, blockage or build-up. Check your rear bumper and if you come across a black residue you need to book your car in for a service immediately.

Leaks

If you notice any major leaks underneath your car on the ground where you normally park, especially if any of the above symptoms are regularly occurring, take it to your mechanic as soon as possible. Common leaks may be bright green (coolant) or dark red/brown (transmission oil, engine oil or brake fluid). If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms then don’t wait, book your car in for a service with the trustworthy and professional team at AME Automotive. With over 30 years of experience and knowledge, there’s a reason we have earned our reputation as a provider of the best car service Perth has to offer. We even clean and wash your car after we’ve done your service! – book an appointment today.

What are the signs of bad suspension springs?

Is your vehicle bouncing around more when you’re driving or is there a clunking sound when you go over speed hump? These could be signs that your suspension springs need replacing. While many people know that suspension springs absorb impact when driving over bumps and rough terrain ensuring a smooth and safe ride, most people do not realize the importance of suspension springs to the vehicle’s overall safety. Worn out springs can reduce the stability of the car, reduce driver control and lead to wear and tear on other critical components so it’s essential that you can recognize the warning signs of worn out springs.

Vehicle bottoming out

One of the best indicators of worn out springs is if the vehicle bottoms out while driving over dips or negotiating obstacles on the road. The spring insulators allow the suspension to control the amount that the vehicle’s front or rear end moves up and down. If your car bottoms out, you will notice a hard hit which can cause significant damage to the undercarriage of the vehicle and other parts on the car including transmission, steering and drive shaft.

car service perth

Excessive road noise

The spring insulators absorb vibration in the road and by doing so, help control road noise. If you begin to notice noise from the road is louder than normal from the front or rear end of your vehicle, it’s a good indication that the spring insulators aren’t performing at their peak. Often excessive road noise means the damage has already been done and the spring insulators will need replacing so contact a licensed mechanic immediately.

Vehicle leaning to one side

Suspension springs help to keep the car balanced on all sides. When a spring is worn out or is showing signs of wear and tear, one of the noticeable side effects will be that one side of the car will appear to be higher than the other. If you notice that the left or right side of your vehicle appears higher or lower than the other side, contact a certified mechanic to inspect the problem. Other aspects of the vehicle may be affected such as steering and braking so it’s crucial the problem is rectified quickly.

Tyre damage

It’s important to examine your tyres for wear and tear on a frequent basis, however most people typically don’t perform this check regularly as they simply forget or don’t know what to look for. If your tyres seem to be wearing more on the inside or outside this is a common side effect of a suspension alignment issue and one of the main offenders of misaligned suspension is a spring that is either wearing out or needs to be replaced.

Vehicle bouncing

One of the main jobs of the springs is to keep the car from bouncing around, especially when you strike potholes or road bumps. When the suspension spring starts to wear out, they compresses quite easily meaning the vehicle’s suspension will move up and down and feel like it is  ‘bouncing’ more frequently. If you notice that your vehicle is bouncing more in normal driving conditions it’s a good indication that you may need replacement springs.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or simply need advice, contact the experienced and friendly staff at AME Automotive to diagnose and repair the problem, your safety is our number one priority.

 

Choosing the right tyres for your car

Tyres are arguably one of the most important factors in your cars safety, performance and efficiency. Worn out tyres can have a negative impact on many areas of your car so it’s crucial regular checks are done and important to know when they need to be replaced. But with so many different brands and types on the market, how do you know which ones are best for your car? Not all tyres are created equal, in fact different tyres serve very different functions. Here’s a few considerations you must make before purchasing new tyres for your car.

Size matters

One size does not fit all and it’s crucial to that you select the right size tyre for your car. It’s important to take note of the specifications including the type, width, aspect ratio, maximum load and maximum speed. If you are unsure, you can find out what kind of tyres you need by looking on the side wall of your current tyres, referring to your vehicle’s placard – this may be found on the driver’s door, under the bonnet or in the glove box or else you can refer to the specifications in the owner’s manual. If you have trouble working out which size you need, it’s best to contact a knowledgeable or professional automotive mechanic.
tyre specials perth

Work out your needs and your budget

All tyres have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are longer lasting, some offer better grip, others offer a smoother and quieter ride. There isn’t one perfect tyre, but there will be a tyre that’s perfect for your needs. Do you go off road often? Do you only do city driving? Do you frequently do long trips or drive in the wet? These sorts of questions will help you work out what’s best for your car. You don’t have to spend a fortune to know your tyres are safe. From budget to premium, there are many tyre brands that will ensure your safety and enhance your driving experience. If you have trouble deciding which tyres are

Other things to consider

Do your research. There are so many ways to find out the features of benefits of different brands, and be sure to only buy only from brands that are trusted and proven in terms of quality. Additionally, ensure the company fitting your new tyres offers a wheel alignment. A wheel alignment will ensure good handling, will promote increased fuel economy and help to prolong the life of your new tyres.

At AME Automotive we are the experts in tyres services. Whether you need a tyre replacement, tyre repairs, wheel alignment, air conditioning repairs or complete car service package visit AME today.

Why do we need to service our cars?

We all know that servicing and maintenance is one of the duties of being a responsible car owner, but do we actually know what can happen if regular check-ups aren’t performed by a licensed automotive mechanic? We spend thousands of dollars choosing the perfect car for our needs but when it comes to maintaining it so many of us try to save a dollar skipping regular services, using inferior parts and products or even worse, performing a do-it-yourself job watching online tutorials. Cars, like people, need regular tune-ups by qualified professionals and here’s why:

Keep your family safe

A regular car service can help to identify possible issues before they become an expensive reality. Just because a car feels fine to drive, doesn’t mean there isn’t any underlying issues caused by normal wear and tear. Your automotive mechanic in Perth will carry out essential checks to critical components of your car such as brakes & clutch repairs, exhaust, transmission and suspension. All of these mechanisms can quite easily let you down and have disastrous consequences if not regularly checked and maintained. Servicing is the best way to ensure you and your passengers get home safely.

car service perth

Maintain the value of your car

We know that cars don’t necessarily hold their value the same as other assets might, but the best way to ensure you get a top price if you choose to sell or upgrade is to ensure the service history is completely up-to-date. The used vehicle market is unbelievably competitive so an easy way to have the edge over the competition is to make sure you don’t skip any scheduled services. If you are thinking of selling, or if you’re just behind with servicing, a great way to get a car into its peak condition is with a car service package. Car service packages can include full electronic tune, a full safety check, brake inspection and added extras such as a complete interior and exterior clean. Perfect for giving any car a little bit of love.

Save money in the long run

Quite simply, regular servicing will save you money. It may not seem like it at the time, but scheduled maintenance will not only identify issues before they become costly it will also save you money at the fuel pump. A regularly service will lead to a smoother running motor improving fuel efficiency and reliability.

For a top quality car service or car service package in Perth contact the friendly staff at AME Automotive.

 

5 CAR CARE ESSENTIALS FOR NEW DRIVERS

There’s more to good car care than just taking your vehicle in for a 6-monthly service. How you look after your car in between services will make a big difference for your daily enjoyment of driving, your car’s long terms health, and how much you need to pay when service time rolls around.

Here are five essential ways to treat your car right, from everyday conscientiousness to DIY maintenance jobs.

1. Petrol Station Multi-Tasking

Putting petrol in your car is unavoidable, so utilise this time to carry out some car care. Here is the ABC of multitasking at a petrol station.

a. Clean Your Windshields

A dirty windscreen looks nasty and it also interferes with visibility while driving. The spray and wipe function of your windscreen wipers can only do so much to help, especially after a long drive. So, if you’re filling up and you notice your front or rear windshield is particularly dirty, give it a proper clean. Almost all petrol stations will have squeegees and cleaning fluid you can use for free.

First, soak the whole windshield in the cleaning fluid with the spongy part of the squeegee. Then, use the other side to clean the glass from the centre out to each edge and then from top to bottom. Don’t forget to give your headlights some love if they’re looking dirty.

b. Check Your Tyre Pressure

Underinflated or overinflated tyres are problematic. Either way, your car won’t handle or stops as well and your tread will wear unevenly. Underinflated tyres, in particular, also increase your risk of a blow-out, as the extra friction can overheat your tyres.

Every time you fill your tank (or every other time, at least) you should check your tyre pressure and add air if needed. Whether you check the tyre pressure at home or at the petrol station will depend on how far you need to drive to get there. Driving around will affect tyre pressure, so an accurate pressure reading requires that your tyres be ‘cold’ or close to it.

If there is a petrol station within a 1.5-kilometre radius of your home, use their equipment. If it’s further, check your tyre pressure before you go and fill up. If you’ve been driving around and want to check your pressure, let the tyres rest for four hours before you do. Once you’re ready, here’s what you do:

  • Make sure you know the recommended PSI for your tyres. You can find this out from your driver’s manual or from the handy panel on the inside of your driver’s side door.
  • If you’re at home, you’ll need a tyre pressure gauge and an air pump with pressure reading. At the servo, these will be one unit.
  • Check the tyre pressure before you put any air in to avoid accidentally overinflating.
  • If the pressure is too low, just fill it to the right level. Most petrol stations have digital systems that allow you to input the pressure you want, but some places (and most portable air pumps) have analogue meters that require a little more care.

c. Check and Top up Oil Level

Oil is as important to your car as sap is to trees, water is to fish, or beer is to Fridays. Without enough oil, the moving parts in your car’s engine won’t be lubricated properly. If oil levels get too low, your car will simply stop working. Make filling up your oil the last thing you do at the petrol station as your car needs 5-10 minutes to cool down before you can get an accurate oil level measurement. Once your car has cooled down, all you need to do is:

  • Open the hood and find your engine’s dipstick. It’s usually located within easy reaching distance and features a picture of an oil can or simply the word ‘oil’.
  • Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with paper towel or a rag.
  • Push the dipstick all the way back down then remove it again, being careful to keep it vertical so the oil doesn’t run up toward the handle.
  • The oil level should sit somewhere in between the two lines representing ‘empty’ and ‘full’ on the dipstick. If it is on or below the bottom line, top the oil up.
  • Never put in too much oil, just under a litre at most; too much oil isn’t good either.

It’s normal for a little bit of oil to be lost as you drive your car, but it shouldn’t be too much. You should only need to top up your oil every 1,600 kilometres or so. If you’re doing it more regularly, you probably have a leak and should get your engine checked by a professional.

2. Car Maintenance You Can Do at Home

A lot of maintenance tasks and repairs now require specialised tools and training. But, there are certain car fundamentals that haven’t changed and that means there is still value in caring for your vehicle yourself. Here are three things that every driver should try for themselves.

a. Fresh Oil for Your Car

Oil is the lifeblood of your car and, over time, it gets dirty and needs to be changed. Consult your user manual to find out how often you’ll need to change your oil. Most cars can travel about 8,000 kilometres between changes, but some don’t need fresh oil until after almost 20,000 kilometres! You may need to get this job done by a mechanic to meet warranty conditions, but if not you can do it at home. Here’s how:

  • Drain the oil – first, run your car for 2-3 minutes to warm the oil. Then kill the engine and find your oil drain plug (you’ll probably need to jack your car up). Wearing rubber gloves, use a socket wrench to loosen the drain plug and then unscrew it by hand and let the oil drain into a pan. Bear in mind you’ll need a way to dispose of or store this oil.
  • Next, change the oil filter. Simply unscrew the old one, lubricate the rim of the new filter, and screw it in place.
  • Once the oil has finished draining, you’ll be ready to refill your car with new oil. Give the area around the drain hole a wipe and replace the plug, tightening it with your socket wrench. Now use a funnel to slowly pour fresh oil into the engine. You’ll need to do a little research to make sure you have the right oil type and know how much to put in. Once you’re done, run the engine for 30-60 seconds, let it cool off, and then check the level. Add more oil if necessary and repeat this process until the dipstick shows ‘full’. Drive around the block a few times, let the engine cool off, and then check a final time. If the oil level is still right, you’re all done!

b. Let Your Car Breathe

Changing your car’s air filter regularly will increase fuel efficiency, lengthen your engine’s lifespan, and reduce your car’s emission of pollutants. Your car needs to breathe to function and the cleaner the air it gets the better it works. You should change your air filter once a year or every 20,000 kilometres, whichever one comes first. Here’s what you do:

  • Open your car’s hood and find the black air filter box – if you can’t locate it, check your owner’s manual.
  • Unclip the metal clasps holding the box down, open it, and pull out the old air filter.
  • Place your new air filter in the box, making sure it fits snugly and clasp the box shut again. That’s it – just make sure you have the right air filter for your car’s make and model.

c. Keep Your Wheels Rotated

Playing musical chairs with your tyres will equalise their wear patterns, making for longer lasting, safer, and more fuel-efficient tyres. This is a job you can do yourself with a few tools. So, check the ideal rotation schedule for your car in your owner’s manual and then get started:

  • With your car in park and the handbrake on, loosen the lug nuts on your wheels about a quarter turn.
  • Jack the car up, either one wheel at a time or using four jack stands to lift the whole vehicle.
  • Remove the tyres and rotate them, partially tightening the lugs as you go; exactly how this works will depend on a few factors:
    • For tyres with directional tread, simply switch the front left wheel for the rear left wheel, and do the same for the right.
    • For non-directional tyres and front-wheel drive, switch the front right tyre for the back right tyre, and the front left tyre for the back left tyre. Then move the rear wheels straight forward. For rear-wheel drive, move the rear tyres forward diagonally and the front wheels straight back.
  • Lower your car, tighten up the lugs fully and evenly, and you’re done.

3. Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Most cars spend a lot of their lives outside. That means they are incessantly bombarded by UV radiation, dirty city rain, pollution, dead bugs, leaf litter, salinity, and bird poop. All these factors and more have a corrosive effect on your car’s paint and if they get through that they will affect the metal underneath.

Regularly washing your car won’t just make it look better when you’re cruising down the main, it will also help to keep your car in better condition. Over time, cleaning will save you money on repainting and repairs and help your car retain more of its resale value.

How Often Should You Clean?

The time between cleans will depend largely on where you live and what the climate is like. If you live near the coast – especially if it’s an urban area with air pollution – the high salinity levels mean you should wash your car two or three times a month. The same goes for busy urban centres where pollution, grime, and general city-borne pollution will accumulate on your car. If you live inland in low-pollution areas, cleaning once a month should do the trick.

If you decide to skip the car wash and clean yourself, here are a few tips:

  • Clean your car in the shade, inside the garage, or on a cool day. The sun’s heat may evaporate soapy water too quickly, leaving spots.
  • Take a little extra time to get tricky areas spotless after you’ve finished your general clean.
  • Choose your cleaning products carefully.
  • Help your car to shine and give it extra protection by using a good quality car wax.

4. Your Car Is Not a Bin, Don’t Treat It Like One

Too many people use their car like a rubbish bin, leading to mountains of fast food wrappers, fountains of old receipts, and a general build-up of dirt, mud and other debris.

This isn’t just embarrassing; it’s also not good for your mental health and concentration. Studies have shown that excessive clutter and mess can reduce attention span and concentration, make switching between tasks more difficult. Clutter can also impair your information processing ability and make you feel unhappy in general.

Try to get out of bad habits like eating and drinking in your car or leaving things on the floor. To complement these efforts, you should also put aside a time each week to clean the inside of your car, because it’s inevitable your good habits will falter now and then. Clear out rubbish, vacuum the floors, and wipe down your dash and other areas.

5. Find a Trusted Expert for Your Car

You should also take the time to choose a good mechanic or service centre to take care of your car’s repairs and regular servicing. Don’t just go with whoever is closest or cheapest; instead look for true car professionals with these qualities:

  • Great customer service skills – look at their online reviews, testimonials, and service guarantees.
  • Straightforward communication skills – mechanics who communicate exclusively in jargon are bad news.
  • Good diagnostic skills.
  • A great work ethic.
  • Up-to-date technology in-house and a policy of ongoing professional development for their team.
  • Reputable certifications, affiliations, and industry endorsements are always a good sign.

It’s also a good idea to learn more about how your car works and educate yourself on the average cost of various services and parts. This will empower you to choose a fair and honest mechanic or team to take care of your car.

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