Get it straight

Whether you already perform wheel alignments or are just getting ready to get into the game, a solid understanding of four-wheel alignment principles serves as a solid foundation.

• Applications.
Do you plan on aligning just cars, cars and light trucks, or even medium-sized trucks as well? It's critical that you establish your needs up front, because alignment heads use different types of sensing technology to take measurements from the vehicle. If you plan on working on long-wheelbase vehicles like limousines and extended-cab pickups, make sure the alignment manufacturer's measurement span exceeds the wheelbase of the longest vehicle you'll see.

• Rim clamps.
Inspect these closely to make sure they hold the alignment head securely without leaving marks on the wheel. With all the different types of wheels on the market today, you can't be too careful.

• Onboard specifications.
Most machines are equipped with this and it can save a lot of time vs. looking up specs every time in a book. Since the specs are usually software-based, they can be updated quickly and easily.

• Warranty.
Terms vary, but usually range from one to five years. Ask your rep to be sure.

This can be a small or large consideration, depending on your situation. If you're already doing alignments, the training will probably serve in more of an equipment role, a sort of man/machine get-acquainted course. If you've never done alignments before, the training becomes doubly important. In that case, it will help you understand the alignment machine and the vehicles you use it on.

Four-wheel alignment gives today's cars the ability to travel down the road in directional harmony. And with the extra profits this service brings, you may wind up humming a few bars yourself.

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