Car Care: Wheel Alignment

One of the most important and yet neglected factors influencing the handling, and the fuel efficiency, of any car or truck is the wheel alignment. Your vehicle’s ability to go, stop and change direction is affected by the direction each of the wheels is pointing, and, whether you drive a compact car or full-size SUV or pickup, the directional control you get where the rubber meets the road is important for safety.

At any given moment only a small patch of rubber, often smaller than the palm of your hand, is supporting the weight of the vehicle and transmitting all of the forces from the engine, brakes and steering to the pavement. Proper wheel alignment helps ensure all of those forces are going where they belong and the tires aren’t being overworked.

While it may look to the naked eye like all of the tires are pointed straight ahead, they are all at slight but important angles. There are three different angles that affect wheel alignment: camber, caster and toe.

“Camber” is the degree to which a wheel departs from vertical (or perpendicular with the road), as viewed from the front. The top of each wheel is usually angled slightly inward. On an average car or truck, the angle is usually less than a few degrees, and you need special measuring equipment to determine the angle. The camber angle compensates for the way tire rubber stretches and deforms when cornering, and helps to make sure that the tire’s contact patch remains in full contact with the road, including while going around corners.

“Toe” is the degree to which a wheel departs from being parallel to the other wheel on the same axle. If the front wheels (and the rears, if the vehicle has independent rear suspension) are angled slightly towards each other (as viewed from above) it’s called “toe-in.” “Toe-out” is when the wheels are pointing slightly away from each other. This is to counter the forces that push the wheels back into a more straight-ahead angle while driving.

Finally, “caster” is the frontward or rearward angle that the steering pivot point has from vertical, as considered from the side. The forces from the caster angle are what give the steering wheel a self-centering capability when you go down the road or relax your grip after going around a corner.

Each of these can be adjusted with links that are part of the suspension system. However, small variations in the angles can have a big effect on how the car drives and on tire wear. Sometimes hitting a big pothole or sliding into a curb can be enough to affect the toe or camber angle by a single degree or less, causing the vehicle to continuously pull in one direction or the other.

In addition to causing the vehicle to pull in one direction or the other, alignment problems also cause abnormally high, often uneven, tire wear. This can lead to a blow-out that could cause an accident, excess vibration that can be felt throughout the vehicle and reduced tire life.

Since checking and adjusting wheel alignment requires precision equipment, it should only be done by your dealer’s service department. You should never attempt to adjust the alignment by hand at home. While most service facilities offer both front-wheel-only alignment and four-wheel alignment, it is usually best to go for four-wheel alignment.

On rear-wheel drive cars and trucks with a solid rear axle, there usually aren’t any adjustments available for the rear wheels. However, even in this case, four-wheel alignment is important because the front wheels will be adjusted relative to the rear wheels so that everything is pointed in the right direction. Doing a front-only alignment can still leave the car pulling in one direction or the other.

One way to determine if your vehicle needs an alignment is to drive it down a straight, flat road with little or no crown (the fall-off toward the outer edge). The car should track straight ahead without you having to tug on the steering wheel. If the vehicle diverges from straight ahead without steering input, get it serviced soon.

You should also do a regular visual inspection of all four tires for uneven wear. The tread depth should be relatively consistent. You can quickly check the depth using a penny stuck into the grooves. If the top part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the rubber in each groove, you have enough tread left. However, if the depth is significantly different on the inner or outer edge of the tire, you could have an alignment problem that needs to be corrected.

Most alignment work can be done quickly and often doesn’t require any parts replacement unless the vehicle has hit something severe and bent a suspension link. A proper alignment and a regular tire rotation with each oil change will help your tires last longer and make your vehicle safer and more enjoyable to drive.

This article is presented by Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio.


Five Golf Destinations in Ohio

The Buckeye State offers some of the best golfing locations in the Midwest
In Ohio, the spring and summer months mean sunny skies, moderate temperatures and naturally bright green, grassy turf. Head outdoors and spend time enjoying some of the Midwest’s best golfing destinations.

Stay on the green at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course
As the highest-ranking municipal golf course in Ohio, Sleepy Hollow Golf Course offers a challenging but scenic 18-hole golf game. The rustic nature of this course, with its ravines and bunkers, offers impressive views of the Cuyahoga River Valley. Located in Brecksville, the course is one of the most widely-visited in the Cleveland area. Sleepy Hollow has been the home of numerous high-profile golfing events through the years. For additional information, visit or call (440) 526-4285.

Enjoy the island life at Catawba Island Golf Club
Once only a nine-hole golf course, this private membership picturesque island course now features 18 holes of Ohio’s best Lake Erie views. Located in Port Clinton, this golf resort includes a full-size practice range and putting green. Several club houses and lounges offer food and drinks after an afternoon round of golf. Visit or call (419) 797-4424 for information about membership.

Brush up on your golf skills at Shaker Run’s Golf Academy
Shaker Run Golf Course sits amidst the rolling hills of Lebanon, offering stunning views and a challenging course. This public golf course offers a full 18 holes. A Golf Academy is available for golfers who feel they need a brush up on their golf skills or want to learn something new. Go to, or call (513) 727-0007 for available hours.

Lodge, lunch and golf at Snow Hill Country Club
The facilities at Snow Hill Country Club in New Vienna have much to offer. This semi-private golf resort boasts its own inn, where five rooms are available for overnight stays. A club house offers food and beverages for all occasions. These amenities, combined with 18 holes of golf, are sure to make for a relaxing weekend retreat. Call (937) 987-2491 for reservations, or visit

Head indoors for one of Ohio’s most unique golf experiences
If the weather turns rainy, head indoors for some extra practice at Teed Up Indoor Golf in Worthington. Teed Up is a golf destination like no other. Teed Up’s simulator will measure the speed, loft and distance of your golf swing. Your visit includes the selection of one of 22 challenging courses where you can apply your expert or novice skills. No need to worry. Teed Up says their employees are familiar with four-letter words. Visit, or call (614) 846-9222. Tee times are required.

This article is presented by Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio 

Vehicle Preview: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Redesigned from hood to hitch to be the strongest and most capable Silverado ever

Boasting a stronger, quieter and more comfortable cabin; redesigned steering, suspension and brakes; innovative cargo storage solutions in the bed; and three new, specially-engineered EcoTec3 engine options, the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is destined to redefine the full-size pickup market yet again and will be available soon here at Jack Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio.

At its core is a choice of three engines specifically designed for the Silverado. All three engines use advanced technology − direct fuel injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable value timing − for an optimal balance of power and fuel efficiency.

The new standard 4.3-liter V6 is extremely versatile, offering enough muscle to power a Crew Cab while pulling a large trailer. When not working hard, the V6 deactivates two cylinders for more fuel efficiency under light loads. A new 5.3-liter V8 delivers more horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency than the previous 5.3-liter, while a new 6.2-liter V8 delivers even more power while still offering four-cylinder mode under light loads for optimal fuel efficiency.

All three engines are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions featuring gearing and shifting that optimizes performance and efficiency. Auto Grade Braking automatically downshifts on downhill grades help reduce brake wear, especially when towing heavy loads.

Part of what makes the new Silverado so capable is its updated frame design, which uses hydroformed high-strength steel for improved rigidity and reduced weight. Whether you opt for a Standard, Extended or Crew Cab, every Silverado cab features strengthened A-pillars, B-pillars, roof rails and rocker panels for a quieter freeway ride, improved handling and top performance in more stringent government crash tests.

Suspension and steering have also been enhanced on the 2014 Silverado, featuring lightweight aluminum components that are both stiffer and lighter for a more refined ride with more confident handling and braking. An electric variable-assist power steering system improves fuel economy and reduces maintenance while delivering easier steering effort at low speeds.

The 2014 Silverado comes in three bed lengths: five feet, eight inches; six feet, six inches; and eight feet. Those who use the Silverado for work will really appreciate features like the CornerStep bumper and built-in hand grip pockets for easier bed access. An internal torsion bar reduces effort when raising and lowering the tailgate, and available LED lighting under the bed rails improves visibility when working at night. Depending on configuration, the 2014 Silverado can accommodate up to six passengers and features larger rear doors on Crew Cab models, adding two inches of rear seat legroom with improved ingress and egress.

If your Silverado will see heavy off-road use, the Z71 Off-Road Package will be available on LT and LTZ models. Featuring monotube Rancho shocks, a transfer case skid plate, front tow hooks, unique 18- or 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, an automatic locking rear differential and Hill Descent Control for improved downhill traction in rough terrain, the Z71 package is a must for those who work off the beaten path.

Subtle exterior enhancements greatly improve aerodynamics for reduced wind noise and improved fuel efficiency. A new, lightweight aluminum hood with twin power domes adds a muscular look and guides air over the windshield wipers, further reducing wind noise. Inlaid doors that fit into the body sides, triple door seals, wheel-well air deflectors and underbody shields all smooth out airflow to improve aerodynamics on the Silverado.

No matter how punishing the conditions may get outside, the environment inside the fully redesigned Silverado couldn’t be more accommodating. Designed to be quieter, roomier and more comfortable than any pickup in history, the luxurious accommodations of the Silverado could be mistaken for those of a high-priced luxury sedan.

You can get a new Silverado with luxury appointments like leather upholstery, wood-grain trim and the MyLink infotainment system with eight-inch LCD screen that enables voice control of music, media and smartphones through Bluetooth connectivity. It also remains a work horse, featuring large knobs and buttons, a column shifter with integrated tap-up/tap-down towing functions and a six-gauge instrument cluster with integrated trailer brake controller, and all controls on the Silverado can easily be operated while wearing work gloves.

Equal to its capability, the 2014 Silverado is packed with a long list of safety features. Standard safety technologies include StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control with Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist, and the popular OnStar system. New safety features for 2014 include Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert, along with an available rear-vision camera with front and rear park assist.

The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado builds on 95 years of American truck heritage and is destined to set a new standard for full-size pickup trucks. Pricing, power, towing capacity and fuel efficiency numbers will be announced soon with availability this summer, so come in today to stay up to date on all the latest details of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.