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When to get wheel alignments

In Alignmentby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

There are many tasks that we need to do regularly: go to the grocery store, exercise, do laundry …

And while we may not enjoy all of these activities, we realize that they’re important.

The same goes for wheel alignments.

Also called “tire alignments”, wheel alignments prevent premature wear in your car’s tires.

They should be performed once a year, or whenever you purchase new tires or steering suspension parts.

An alignment can be thrown off by potholes, curbs and suspension wear.

You may notice some symptoms when you need one, such as a crooked steering wheel, uneven tire wear, or the car pulling to one side.

There are two different types of alignments — a four-wheel alignment is required for most vehicles, and a two-wheel alignment is used on most pickup trucks.

When doing an alignment, our technicians check the tires and take the car for a test drive.

Sometimes, a bad tire can cause a vehicle to pull and be mistaken for needing a wheel alignment.

Then, the vehicle is placed on a rack and clamps are secured to the tires.

We check different specifications, including caster, camber and toe.

Wheel alignments
Wheel Alignment Specifications

Caster refers to how wheels are angled forward or backward, and camber is how they go in or out. Toe is the term used to explain how far to the left or right the wheels are from the car’s center.

If the car uses driver assist, an Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) system reset may be needed after the alignment is complete.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Servicing vehicles with driver assist

In Alignment, Maintenance, Safetyby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Today, many vehicles use Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS).

For the automotive field, servicing vehicles with driver assist has started to become a challenge, even when it comes to regular maintenance.

Parts of the ADAS system can include: adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, collision avoidance, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, cross traffic alert, surround view, blind spot detection, park assist, rear collision warning, and rear park assist/back up park assist with surround view.

Some of the things that work with the sensors are: long range radars, LIDAR, cameras, short-medium range radars, and ultrasound.

Driver Assist

Depending on the vehicle, there are different levels of ADAS system resets — some of them are passive, some are hard resets where you have to use targets.

Some vehicles have different radar set ups and blind spot detection, which require different targets on certain vehicles, and they can be kind of tricky to reset.

Replacing a windshield with the incorrect kind of windshield may not allow the ADAS system to work correctly.

Even body shops putting metallic paint on a car can impact the sensors located on the front bumper.

An ADAS system reset may also be needed after a wheel alignment or if technicians remove the bumper to replace the timing belt.

Another challenge is that a lot of people don’t know that a reset is needed. There’s no direct warning light for ADAS, unless you have a driver’s information center.

So, you could be driving the car and not know the system isn’t set up correctly to help you in an emergency situation. 

In extreme conditions of the ADAS system not working correctly, the car may try to compensate for your regular driving.

So, if your vehicle has an ADAS system and you bring it to a repair shop, you may want to ask them if the work will affect your driving assist system. That way you can make sure that it does get reset.

What we see is a lot of people in the industry don’t even know that they’re supposed to do it.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has invested in the complete ADAS system — everything from Fords, Chevys, Subarus, Mercedes, BMWs. We even can do the camera systems and the targeted systems.

It’s quite an investment, but we know that we need to make sure that we’re fixing these cars correctly, and we’re keeping your family safe on the road.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Are my tires getting old?

In Alignment, Tires and Wheelsby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

One of the tires on your vehicle is looking a little low, and you decide to have it checked out.

When you grab your phone — or computer — and Google “Tire shop near me,” many businesses will mostly likely appear.

In addition to finding a shop that’s conveniently located near you, it’s a good idea to check out their reviews and services.

Tire repair is one of the services Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire provides.

Over time, tires wear out and are in need of replacing.

The latest you should wait to replace your tires is eight to 10 years. We recommend that you begin planning for new tires at six years, depending on the climate.

If you live in Northern Virginia, tires tend to last a long time. Those residing near the beach — where it’s saltier — may need to replace their vehicle’s tires every four to six years.

You can tell the age of a tire by looking at its date code. A date code tells you the week and the year it was manufactured. This can help you determine if the tire is getting too old.

An example is if the last four digits of the DOT code are 0304. That would mean the tire was produced during the third week of the year 2004.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, which is a Virginia Safety Inspection station, looks at tires during the annual Virginia Safety Inspection.

The minimum tread depth Virginia Safety Inspection specification is 2/32 of an inch, but the manufacturer may recommend that the tires need to be replaced by 3/32 of an inch to 5/32 of an inch, depending on the tire. 

The spare tire may be as old as your vehicle. When getting new tires, you should also consider replacing the spare, even if it hasn’t been used. Spare tires that are stored in a vehicle can deflate over time. Those located underneath vehicles, such as trucks, are out in the open, where they face weather conditions and debris.

Having a wheel alignment performed when you replace your tires and every 15,000 miles is also important.

If you don’t do a regular wheel alignment, your tires can experience premature wear. A tire with a 60,000 mile tread life can decrease to 30,000 miles.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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How complicated is a BMW alignment?

In Alignment, Tires and Wheelsby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Potholes, curbs and normal wear and tear can throw off your wheel alignment. Overtime, they can also cause abnormal tire wear, which will shorten the life expectancy of your tires.

Here are a few signs that your BMW needs a wheel alignment:

  • Your vehicle is pulling to one side
  • You notice abnormal tire wear
  • If your Automatic Driver Assist System (ADAS) is engaging when it’s not supposed to 
  • Your steering wheel isn’t centered

When performing a BMW alignment, you need to make sure that the auto repair shop has qualified automotive technicians, up-to-date wheel alignment machines, and current software to give your vehicle the best alignment.

On today’s complicated vehicles, one thing that often gets missed is recallibrating the steering angle sensor after performing a wheel alignment. This can affect steering, handling and braking.

Another thing to be aware of is to make sure that you may need to recalibrate the ADAS, which includes lane assist and vehicle avoidance systems. With all of the electronic systems tied together to make sure that everything is safe, a simple tire alignment isn’t so simple anymore.

Discount alignments are not always the best, as you may not have a knowledgeable mechanic working on your vehicle that would know about these systems. Setting the toe and letting it go is not a good alignment.

On many BMW models, there may not be an adjustment for camber and toe, but there are aftermarket parts that can be installed that will bring the alignment into specification. This will help your tires last a long time and allow your vehicle to provide the best handling.

Even when a BMW is new, they are set up to basic specs, but may not have an accurate alignment. After that, it’s recommended that when you get new tires — or every 30,000 miles — you should get your BMW alignment checked. If you live in the Northern Virginia area, your alignment should be checked once a year.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Mercedes alignment: Some things to know

In Alignmentby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If your Mercedes is pulling to one side or if its steering wheel isn’t center, it may need an alignment.

Many factors, such as potholes, curbs and everyday use, can cause tires to go out of alignment.

There are alignment requirements — caster, camber and toe — that make sure your car travels straight and is able to maintain control.

Another thing to consider when getting your Mercedes alignment done, depending on the year, make and model, you may need to make sure the shop can recalibrate (Automatic Driver Assist System (ADAS). This has to do with lane assist and vehicle avoidance systems. Since the system works with the steering components, this system may need to be recalibrated.

How much does a Mercedes wheel alignment cost?

A standard tire alignment can cost between $95 and $250 for a Mercedes. This doesn’t include taxes and fees. The cost can depend on what make and model the Mercedes is, what special tools are required, and what adjustments need to be made that require special kits.

What can throw out your tire alignment?

The wheel alignment of a Mercedes may be impacted by curbs, potholes and everyday use. Tie rod ends, ball joints and other parts affect it, as well.

Is a cheap Mercedes alignment good?

High end European vehicles, such as Mercedes, require the right alignment equipment to calibrate the steering system correctly. It takes knowledge and special tools to make sure it’s done right. Sometimes your budget alignment place may not be the best for your vehicle.