Wheel Alignment Vs. Wheel Balancing

Wheel alignment vs. wheel balancing
Many people tend to get confused between the terms ‘wheel balancing’ and ‘wheel alignment’ and end up using them interchangeably, in spite of being proud owners of vehicles themselves! In fact, the two terms sound fairly similar, making it all the more difficult to tell the difference between the two. However, for better handling, safety, and longer tire life, it is necessary that you know when your car requires a wheel balancing and/or wheel alignment procedure.

Note that both these procedures are an essential part of tire maintenance and help in increasing the performance and life of your tires.

Difference Between Wheel Alignment and Wheel Balancing

Let us draw a comparison between the two procedures on the basis of a few important parameters.

1. The Procedure Itself

Wheel alignment, or tire alignment, refers to the process of adjusting the position or alignment of the tires according to the manufacturer’s specification. It is carried out by changing the positioning of steering and suspension components, such as inner and outer tie rod ends. When we talk of angles, we mostly consider the three major angles―caster, camber, and toe.

Caster : The angle formed by the steering axis with the true vertical.

Camber : The inward or outward tilt of the tire, when viewed from the front of the vehicle.

Toe : When viewed from above, the toe defines whether the front tires are closer in or farther away when compared to the rear tires. The distance between the left and right tires, should have the same value for the two sets of front and rear tires.

Before checking a tire for alignment issues, it is strictly recommended that the vehicle is checked for damaged or worn-out parts and if found, must be repaired or replaced. When you take your vehicle for

How to Clean Aluminum Wheels

You may have painted your vehicle’s aluminum wheels to complement the color of your car, or you probably use anodized aluminum wheels to improve their looks. The major problem is the oxidation which makes these wheels look dirty and old. Grit, grease stains, and tar also do their best to make them look ugly which ultimately, mars the beauty of your vehicle. Following are some helpful tips on cleaning them.

1. First of all, we will undertake the task by taking the wheels off one at a time, this will help in handling the wheel easily while continuing with the task.
2. Before starting, remove items such as center-caps, valve stem covers, etc. This will reduce the surface area to be cleaned and you will be able to work unobstructed.
3. The hot dust particles resulting from the use of brakes eventually give rise to problems; the dust particles mixed with tar from the road, and the grease can get stuck to the wheel.
4. Following are a few characteristics that you may use for stain removal. Before purchasing the cleaning solution or paste or gel, make sure that they do not contain ammonia, anhydrous chemicals or acids. Though the cleaning solutions containing these chemicals gets the dirt off the metal surfaces and makes it look shiny, the effect is short-lived. Ammonia and anhydrous chemicals can etch and age the metal in the wheels prematurely. These chemicals can cause re-oxidation and tarnish these wheels.
5. If you have fitted your car with mag alloy or magnesium alloy wheels, know that it is white in color, which you cannot improve by polishing unless there is less than 20 percent of magnesium in it.
6. The next step is to wash the wheel. Use the cleaning solution

Front Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment in a car refers to adjusting the wheel angles in such a manner that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. These adjustments are carried out to ensure that the tires last for a long time and the car moves in a straight line while driving. Whenever there is unexpected wear and tear of tires, the car drifts to one side, or there is vibration at the steering while driving very fast, it is an indication that wheels need to be aligned properly.

It is always better to get an alignment job done from a car shop or a tire specialist. Though the process is not very tough, there is certain amount of basic knowledge required for aligning car wheels in their ideal position. Wheel alignment requires three measurements–caster, camber, and toe.

Basic Terms Explained

Caster is defined as the tilting of the topmost point on the axis of the car steering. The tilting is either backward or forward, when seen from the sides of the car. A forward tilt is denoted by a negative (-) sign, while a backward tilt is denoted by a positive (+) sign. Wearing of the tires is not affected by caster, but it does affect the steering’s direction control. The car body has to be kept at its predetermined height as it has a bearing on the caster. A positive caster is a result of the rear-side of the car being lower than the normal height. In case the rear-side is higher than the normal height, the front suspension shows a less positive caster. If there is a difference between caster values of two wheels, the wheel starts pulling towards the car’s center. This makes the vehicle drift towards the side, which has a

Forged Wheels Vs. Cast Wheels

When choosing wheels for your automobile, there is a considerable amount of choice. With advances in automobile technology, even car wheel technology has evolved considerably, to meet the changing requirements. While we have seen a considerable advancement in design, there has been a change in materials used for manufacturing. Steel, which was once the preferred material, has been replaced by aluminum alloys. Among all types, you have the option of choosing between forged and cast wheels.

In discussing the difference between the two, we will basically distinguish between the advantages and disadvantages of forging and casting as manufacturing processes. As you will discover, the strength of any metallic product is not just dependent on what it is made of, but is also dependent on how it was created.

The internal crystal structure of a metal ultimately decides its strength and other characteristics, and this is influenced by the way in which the raw metal is treated.

The Comparison

Let us begin by seeing the difference in the manufacturing and internal structure of cast and forged alloy wheels. This will be followed by a comparison with respect to features and cost.

Basic Differences
Cast wheels are created by pouring of liquid or molten metal into specifically designed molds. The liquid metal is then cooled to create solid wheels of requisite dimensions. They are usually made from aluminum alloys. The two prime types of casting processes are gravity and low-pressure casting.

On the other hand, a forged wheel is sculpted by hammering, application of heat, and pressure to give it the required shape. Aluminum alloys or steel may be used in its manufacturing.

Features Comparison
The difference in their manufacturing translates into a difference in their properties. The grains or crystal structures of alloy and forged wheels are different. While the former has

Alloy Vs. Steel Wheels

The invention of the wheel should be rated as one of the greatest technological breakthroughs of modern times. Right from the first cars of old, to the modern cars of today, we have seen a steady improvement in automobile technology, which includes development of wheels. Good ones provide stability and greater control over driving, while being able to take a high amount of load. There are many options to choose from when it comes to choosing them for your new car. Two of the prime choices are steel and alloy wheels.

Difference Between the Two Choices

What provides structure and decides the strength factor of wheels is the material from which they are manufactured. When we talk about comparing steel and alloy wheels, we are essentially differentiating between rim materials. The rim provides the tire with the required strength and stability. Its choice does matter when it comes to choosing one.

Basic Differences
Alloy wheels are primarily manufactured from manganese and aluminum. Alloys made of aluminum are most preferred. One of the major factors which improves acceleration and wheel grip, besides improving fuel efficiency, is the lightening of wheel weight. Alloy wheels are mostly lighter than traditional ones, providing a major advantage to sports cars. Compared to them, their steel equivalents weigh more. They have been in use for many years now. The heat conduction through them is slow, compared to alloy wheels, which makes their braking performance weaker.

Overall, alloy wheels have an edge over steel ones, due to their lesser weight and their high heat conduction rate, when it comes to performance. In terms of aesthetics too, they score more. However, one thing about them, that should not be ignored, is that steel wheels are easier to maintain and repair, when compared to alloy wheels.

Invention of the Wheel

The wheel is one of the earliest inventions in the history of mankind. A wheel can be described as a device that rotates about its axis, and is used for carrying loads from one place to another and performing tasks in various machines. It is widely used for road transport, air transport, water transport, as well as in factories. Many people consider it as the most important mechanical invention of all time. This is simply because we cannot even think of a world without the wheel.

Creation of the Wheel

Archaeological evidence suggests that the invention of the wheel took place in Mesopotamia, in the Middle East, during the period between the fifth and the third millennium BCE. However, it is still a mystery as to who actually made the first wheel. It is interesting to note that the first wheel ever made was not used for any kind of transportation. Rather, it was used by potters to spin clay for making vessels and other useful goods. The vessels were then used for storing food and water. So we can say that the first ever wheels were used for manufacturing purpose, and not for transportation. The first wooden wheel in the world was found in Slovenia. According to Austrian experts, it is more than 5000 years old, thus making it the oldest wooden wheel. During the same excavation, they have also found an axle and a wooden canoe.

Mesopotamians started using the wheel for transferring goods at a much later period, between 3700 and 3200 BCE. They used it in their chariots and wagons, where four wheels and two axles were included. The Egyptians improvised the wheel further and made spokes in them. These wheels were used in Egyptian chariots around 2000 BC. During this time, the

Front End Alignment Cost

Our vehicle, be it a two wheeler, three wheeler or a four wheeler, is made of several different parts, which contribute in big and small ways to its efficient and proper working. One such important part is the front end alignment. Front end alignment is not directly related to the working of the engine or any of its parts. Instead, it is a sort of service, fitted in the vehicle to set the chamber, toe in and caster in proper specifications, so as to hold the tires at place, enable efficient steering and provide easy handling of the vehicle. Like all the other parts of the vehicle, front end alignment also becomes inefficient over a period of time and therefore it requires to be realigned.

How Does Working of Front End Alignment Affect the Vehicle?

Before moving on to know about the front end alignment costs, let us know something about its working. The definition of front end alignment itself gives an idea of its working. The front end alignment of a vehicle is made of three important parts, namely, caster, camber and toe in. The understanding of these parts, would give an idea of the working of the front end alignment and also provide a hint about its effect on your vehicle.

– Caster: Whenever the steering is moved towards the right or left, the tires turn with the help of a pivot fixed to the suspension system. Caster is actually the angle of this pivot. Pivot plays an important role in keeping the vehicle in a straight track, as if the pivot is too positive (leaning towards the back), then the steering becomes too heavy, whereas if the pivot is too negative (leaning towards the front), then the steering becomes too light and vehicle might

Symptoms of a Bad Brake Booster

Symptom of a bad brake booster
The brake boosters, also known as vacuum servos, serve the function of helping the driver when applying brakes in a car. These are, thus, able to reduce the efforts on the driver’s part when bringing the car to a halt or slowing it down. The vacuum servos play an important role in the performance as well as safety of the car. The servos were invented by Albert Dewandre, an engineer at Liege, Belgium, in the year 1927.

The main aim of this device is to reduce the pressure that a driver needs to apply on the brake pedals. This was to facilitate and improve the ease of pushing the brake pedal. The device also reduces the distance that a car travels before coming to a halt, after a driver hits the brake pedals.

The technical name of the vacuum servo is ‘vacuum-actuated servo motors’. These make use of the vacuum or a vacuum sensor to control the electrically-operated servo. A ‘servo’ is an automatic device that uses negative feedback to regulate the operation and functioning of its mechanism.

Bad Brake Booster Symptoms

The signs of a bad brake booster that show up in a car are as follows:

The car takes longer to stop: As a result of the failure of its brake booster, a car will take longer time than usual to come to a complete halt after the brakes are applied. This distance will be more than the distance it would travel with its power booster intact.

Hard brake pedals: Since the main function of a brake booster is to assist the driver in the application of brakes, when the brake booster goes bad, the ease in application of brakes is diminished. The brake pedals become hard and need increased effort to push

Signs of a Seized Engine

Signs of a seized engine
Seized Engine Meaning
A smoothly running car engine is a synchronized movement of various components. Even if one small component malfunctions, or functions out of sync, the engine may get heavily damaged over time. Usually when an engine seizes, the internal components freeze or lock up to such an extent that, the crankshaft is unable to turn in the bearings. This happens because the internal parts such as pistons, rod bearings, piston rings, etc., overheat and weld together. Such conditions may require you to change the entire engine, and this can be terribly expensive. Hence, it is very important for car owners to recognize warning signs, and rectify the problem before it is too late. Let us now look at the causes and warning signs of a seized engine.

Seized Engine Causes

– The most common cause for an engine to seize up is insufficient engine oil, which causes overheating, melting, and amalgamation of the engine parts.
– Lack of engine oil also results in lowered lubrication, which results in damage of the bearings. Ordinarily, you will need to replace the engine in such a situation.
– Accumulation of water inside the engine can cause it to seize, as water is not compressible like gasoline.
– Accumulation of rust due to the car remaining unused for a long period of time can also cause the engine to seize up.
In rare cases, faulty components can fail or break and cause the engine to seize.

Early Warning Signs
Before the engine seizes, one can usually observe a number of signs which foretell the impending disaster.

– Initially, one can hear faint tapping or knocking sounds coming from the running engine.
– When an engine is close to seizing up, one may hear loud knocking sounds

Symptoms of a Bad Control Arm Bushing

Symptoms of a bad control arm bushing
Most people consider a vehicle’s entire suspension system as ‘one’ part. The fact is, it is made up of several components which play different roles. One such component is the control arm, which is mostly found in the front wheels, though some trucks and cars have it in the rear ones too. It connects the front suspension of the vehicle to its frame. There are two control arms in the suspension―upper and lower―and they contain a rubber bushing at the end. This is made up of a rubber lining encased between two metal sleeves.

Such placement and compact design of the bushing is done on purpose; it helps cushion the vehicle from small bumps and vibrations, which a spring cannot. The inner metal sleeve is connected to car frame via a center bar. The outer sleeve is connected to the wheel assembly via the control arm. Thus, both the sleeves move independently from each other, and it is the rubber bushing which provides a lubrication between them. Considering that they bear a huge amount of stress with every drive, these bushings wear out pretty fast by becoming hard and cracking. Let us see how to identify a bad control arm bushing from its symptoms.

Steering problems are one of the first indications of a damaged control bushing. The steering may lose a bit of its responsiveness. At high speeds, it may even start ‘wandering’, or make the vehicle turn erratically. The driver can feel the wheel vibrate while in motion. The vehicle may start leaning to one side, to some degree, when taking sharp turns.
Drive Comfort
A bad bushing will compromise driving performance and comfort. Since the purpose of the control arm bushing is to cushion against small bumps,

Speedometer Not Working Properly

Speedometer not working
A speedometer is an instrument which provides the driver with instantaneous readings of speed. Traditional speedometers used gears and wires to determine speed, while most modern vehicles use speed sensors for the same. Common problems include, a faulty sensor, bad wiring, or dial malfunctions. Troubleshooting speedometer problems mostly call for a replacement of the speed sensor or cable, depending upon the vehicle. Both these repair jobs are simple to perform and can be done at home.
Common Speedometer Problems
My speedometer is dead!
My speedometer is dead!
This could be due to two reasons. In older cars a break in the cable that connects the transmission to the speedometer is the most common cause. Cars produced after 1990 are usually equipped with speed sensors, which may crash and cease to transmit speed readings to the speedometer. A more serious problem could be a faulty speedometer head, which needs expert diagnosis.
The ‘check engine’ light came on after the speedometer stopped working
The 'check engine' light came on after the speedometer stopped working
A problem that occurs with digital speed sensors is that they may malfunction and stop sending data to the car’s computer. When the computer tries to calculate road speed it does not receive any information, and as a result the ‘check engine’ light glows.
Replacing the speed sensor will solve this issue, however, if the ‘check engine’ light is not on, and the speedometer behaves erratically or stops working, it is recommended to try the cruise control system in the car, as it uses the same sensors.
If cruise control is working, and the check engine light is on, it may indicate a problem with the speedometer itself, and may require a change of the

Car Alternator Problems

Modern cars, trucks and caravans are well-equipped with every comfort one can imagine. All these appliances and the engine need loads of electric power to operate. Where does all this power come from? This requirement is satisfied by a very simple gadget, known as the ‘Alternator’. It is short for ‘Alternating Current Generator’. The efficiency of these devices is around 50 – 60%. Through the use of the alternator, which is a dynamo, your car generates its own electrical power and stores it in a rechargeable car battery. Ergo, it’s absolutely essential that you keep a check on the working of the alternator or you may be left high and dry with no power to drive your car!
How Does the Car Alternator Work?
The alternator creates electricity by exploiting a fundamental law of electromagnetism which is – ‘Changing magnetic field creates an electric field’. There are two important parts of the alternator – stator and the rotor. The rotor is essentially a set of three pairs of electromagnets with opposite poles facing each other, placed on a cylindrical disc. They are 120 degrees out of phase from each other. Stator is the stationary part placed at the center of the rotor disc.

The rotor is attached to engine crankshaft, by a belt. Thus, an important part of this assembly is the alternator belt, which transfers engine torque to the rotor. When the engine is operational, crankshaft rotation makes the rotor go around. The revolving rotor creates a changing magnetic field. This field induces a three phase current in the central stator. A current is generated 120 degrees out of phase, by each of the magnet pairs. There are output terminals attached to the stator with separate windings for every phase.

However, this output current is AC (Alternating Current) but the car accessories require

Wheel Bearing Noise

Detecting the noise in wheel bearings can be a tricky job. However, with the correct understanding of how to diagnose the problem, it becomes easy to solve noise-related issues in wheel bearings. A rumbling or cyclic noise can be heard in wheel bearings with problems in their smooth functioning. If the driver senses even a slight problem in the smooth running of wheels, he should go for wheel bearing noise diagnosis. If the problem of bearing noise is not addressed in a timely manner, it can hamper the functioning of wheels.
Identifying Wheel Bearing Noise
The noise emanating from wheel bearings can differ from wheel to wheel depending on the degree of damage caused to them. At first, the noise originating from wheels might sound like a whistle. However, if the problem worsens, the noise could grow louder. Therefore, it is necessary to find out the exact cause of noise.
▶ A common trick used for identifying problems associated with wheel bears is checking whether noise heard at the time of acceleration and deceleration remains the same. One should drive the vehicle along a circular path, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, in order to find out which of the wheels (left or right) emits the sound caused by a damaged bearing.
▶ The noise originating from a wheel bearing doesn’t change with changing speeds; however, it might increase or decrease at the time of turning. Therefore, one can say that the noise heard at regular intervals, while driving at a steady speed, is a sign of problem associated with bearings.
▶ Do not confuse wheel bearing noise with that produced by a damaged CV joint; both the problems are different from each other and they need be dealt with separately.
▶ Noise produced by wheel bearings is a result of lack of lubrication

Tips for Buying a Used Car

A smart decision, I must say. But are you sure you aren’t spending money on buying a headache of somebody else? I hope not. Nevertheless, a car used before, almost as good as a spic-and-span one, is not as difficult to find as is posed. You need not pay for the depreciation, nor do you have to pay for auto insurance (in most cases). Some sagacity, and you are offered a fantastic deal on the used car’s transportation requirements. It might just astonish you to know that even cars that are hardly a year old are cheaper by one-fourth the actual price of a new car! Gone are the days when used automobiles were a headache. In fact, some used cars are much, much more reliable today than they earlier were. All you need to find out is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and you know the entire history of the used car. Okay, another benefit of buying a second-hand car is that, if at all you buy one from a private party, chances are, you could get the car at an unbelievably cheaper price. Indeed, benefits are countless, but then, what to look for when purchasing a used car? How to go about it? I think, the following cluster of words comprise some essential pointers. Take a look. Then take a drive.


Regardless of what your budget is, you cannot do a decent purchase without some homework. First things first, settle on which type of car do you prefer. A pick up? Or just a 5-seater? A cruiser? Or a luxury car? Your preference may depend on the fuel economy factor. Hence, you should go for a car that is not only good-looking, but is also smooth on the road, and benevolent to mother

When Should You Buy a New Car

I can certainly understand the dilemma that you are in right now, as I have been there too. Several times in life, we reach crossroads, that force us to choose between two or more paths. One of these crossroad conundrums may be buying a car. On one hand, you feel like holding onto your old faithful car, even though it may be reaching the end of its service life and on the other hand you are attracted to the glamor and sleekness of new ones.

Should You Buy a New Car or Fix Your Old One?

To decide whether to get a new car or continue with your old one, you need to make an objective analysis of your old one and the financial repercussions of buying a new one. What is the scale of car repairs that you expect to put in, if you decide to continue with your old one? If the scale is huge and you still don’t expect a lot of improvement in the car’s mileage or overall performance, buying a new one is the best choice. Not only will you get good mileage, but you will also be free from repair problems, which can be time-consuming.

However, if you have been carrying out regular maintenance and your car provides you with good mileage and overall performance, I see no reason why you can’t continue with your old one. Using the old one has the financial advantage of paying smaller insurance installments, compared to new ones. However, if you need a new car to comfortably accommodate your growing family and have the requisite monetary budget to buy a new one, go ahead with it.

If you are starting for college and have to choose between your old man’s car or a new one, I