Macpherson Struts And Their Effect On Alignments

The condition of your suspension components has a great effect on your car or truck's wheel alignment. One major suspension component used in many vehicles today that has a direct impact on wheel alignment is the MacPherson strut. When worn or damaged, these struts can have a great effect on your car's alignment and associated tire wear.

What are MacPherson struts?

In the past, many passenger cars and light trucks had a front suspension system that consisted of several separate components such as shocks, springs and upper and lower control arms. The MacPherson strut replaced much of these components with a single, complete assembly. The use of a strut eliminated the need for an upper control arm in most front-wheel drive vehicles as well as some rear-wheel drive vehicles. Some vehicles, such as full-sized trucks and SUVs, still use the old suspension system without the MacPherson struts because these older systems are able to handle higher weight loads.

How does the MacPherson strut affect alignment?

MacPherson struts generally affect the camber and caster of your wheels. Camber is the angle in which your wheels tilt to the side. Caster is a little more confusing, but it is basically the angle to which the wheel is aligned to the pivot point. Caster is adjusted forward or backward while camber is adjusted from side to side. These adjustments are usually made at the mounting points and sometimes require special kits and shims to keep them properly aligned. Damaged or worn struts can throw off these adjustments and cause alignment problems.

What are the signs that these struts need replacement?

One of the first signs you may notice when your struts are going bad is that the ride is softer and bouncier than usual. You may also notice a difference in handling around turns. If your alignment is already affected, then you will notice that your car is drifting or pulling to the side. Your tires will show uneven wear, most likely on either the inside or outside of the tire. Some struts will show wear by leaking.

Do not attempt to replace your own struts if you do not have the proper tools and equipment because there is a risk of injury due to the highly compressed spring. Special tools and training are required to disassemble the component. If you need to replace your MacPherson struts, then be sure to take it to a qualified mechanic who can also do an alignment. That way you can be sure that your wheels and suspension will continue to roll along perfectly. To learn more, speak with someone like Spring Suspension & Alignment Services.