21st century alignments at Portland Automotive
A great majority of collisions can cause some type of suspension damage, which means a wheel alignment will be necessary. The list of additional steps after a wheel alignment keeps growing with the addition of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These systems need to know what direction the vehicle is travelling down the road in order to accurately make safety corrections and predictions. However, there are still questions on what is required when ADAS and wheel alignments are concerned.
Vehicles equipped with ADAS, especially lane keep assist and collision braking, need to be properly aligned with how the vehicle is traveling down the road. Cameras and sensors use different inputs from the vehicle, such as inputs from the steering angle sensor. If the steering angle sensor is adjusted during a wheel alignment, the forward-facing camera, which controls the lane departure warning, may think the steering wheel is turned. This can signal the vehicle to correct the steering to stay on the road, even though the vehicle is traveling between the lines.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A “NORMAL” ALIGNMENT?
A wheel alignment is a computerized process in which a technician aligns all four wheels of your vehicle to ensure it drives straight. This alignment is done by adjusting three angles of each wheel, known as camber, caster, and toe.
Each angle adjustment is so small that it’s difficult to notice by simply looking at the tire, which is why technicians use a sensitive computer to ensure each angle is adjusted according to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
Improper wheel alignment can not only wear your vehicle’s tires down faster, but it can also decrease overall safety while driving. You can prolong the life of your tires and ensure a safe driving experience with routine wheel alignments, whether your vehicle is equipped with ADAS technology or not.
HOW IS AN ADAS VEHICLE ALIGNMENT DIFFERENT?
A standard wheel alignment is a highly technical process requiring a specialized computer and a skilled technician. Since ADAS vehicles use computerized components to control things like steering, brakes, and cruise control, they require an even more specialized alignment process called a Safety Systems Alignment.
This alignment not only adjusts the three angles of the tire, but it also calibrates the ADAS cameras, sensors, and radar that help control the computerized components. These components rely on proper alignment of the vehicle and they may not function correctly if the vehicle is out of alignment.
For instance, some rear camera systems track your wheel angle to display the path your vehicle will travel as you reverse. If the camera isn’t calibrated correctly or the steering wheel is out of alignment, the camera will show an improper image and potentially turn a safety feature into a hazardous situation.
When getting a Safety Systems Alignment, there are a few things to note.
It requires highly-skilled technicians. Safety Systems Alignments are done by highly-skilled technicians who are trained to know how to calibrate every sensor, camera, radar, or laser your vehicle might have.