Experienced car owners know that wheel alignment problems can cause a host of issues.
Signs of misaligned wheels include irregular tyre wear patterns and the tendency of the car to pull to one side. The latter necessitates constant steering corrections. Fuel economy also suffers due to wheel alignment issues.
But is tyre squeal a sign of misaligned wheels as well?
Before striking out the tyres as a possible cause, make sure you are running the correct tyre pressures.
If this makes no difference, then it is highly likely you have a misalignment issue.
WHEEL ALIGNMENT ISSUES
Depending on the specific car’s suspension design, there can be more than one alignment parameter that could be out.
A side-slip test conducted at any inspection centre can determine only if the toe-in/toe-out is wrong.
“Toe” is essentially the direction the front wheels are pointed. Toe-in means the tyres are pointed towards the centre line of the car and toe-out is the opposite.
If these angles are not within factory specification, the tyres will experience increased wear.
In the worst case, this will induce a degree of self-steer to one side when travelling in a straight line. This requires constant steering wheel corrections.
Normal wear and tear of steering and suspension components – especially ball-joints – will lead to such misalignment.
Driving through a nasty pothole can cause suspension problems as well.
OTHER POSSIBLE ISSUES
The other aspects of front-wheel alignment are caster and camber. Misalignment of either of these is not common, but possible nonetheless.
Usually, in cars where there is no scope of adjustment to correct caster or camber, misalignment is the result of worn suspension components.
Weak springs can cause one of both sides of the car to sag. This is the main cause of incorrect camber and one of the reasons for mild tyre squeal.
Send your car for alignment checks so that the problem can be diagnosed.