hen it comes to basic wheel alignment, most classic car owners have an understanding of the essential terms like caster, camber, and toe, but when it comes to actually measuring or, indeed, attempting to apply the technicalities of wheel alignment to their cars, the only truly sensible solution is for them to take a trip to a specialist.
Often left unattended — or in some cases just ignored — poor wheel alignment can expose a plethora of hidden gremlins relating to your car’s steering geometry and suspension, leading to problems such as uneven tyre wear, steering that pulls to one side, poor handling, and the steering wheel not centring itself when moving in a straight line. These are all symptoms of your car’s suspension not performing as it should, and, in most cases, a simple wheel alignment can rectify these problems.
There are other benefits as well, the most obvious being the simple fact that properly aligned wheels will significantly reduce rolling resistance, which will allow you to save on fuel bills. There are also good reasons for regular wheel alignment checks to save wear and tear on your classic car’s expensive tyres — believe it or not, there’s research to suggest that after approximately 19,000km of normal driving conditions, a car with a toe misalignment of just 0.34 degrees (0.17 inches) will have dragged its tyres sideways for a distance equivalent to almost 110km.
We recently visited steering and suspension specialists Autolign at their Mount Wellington base in Auckland and spoke to service manager Iain Wilson about the company and what they can do to restore the sparkle to your classic car’s handling.
According to Iain, “When it comes to wheel alignment, you can have all the necessary electronic equipment available, but it’s the understanding and experience of the operator that makes all the difference.”
Iain and his team have been in the business for many years and know just what it takes to get that classic car rolling just as it should.
As far as support and backup is concerned, Autolign (owned by BNT) is the largest steering and suspension specialist in the country and offers
premium products from respected manufacturers like Bilstein and Tein. Autolign also import and distribute additional items like Monroe shock absorbers, Rancho performance suspension and shock absorbers, Nolathane bushes, and Powerdown suspension components via outlets throughout the country. The Autolign team also operates a dedicated workshop facility in Mount Wellington and is a licensed rebuilder of Bilstein and Tein shock absorbers.
A specialized shock-dyno machine allows Autolign to test, check and rebuild, or custom build shock absorbers for any application, and the company carries a full range of spare parts.
Autolign is also licensed to produce custom-made Nolathane bushes, and it carries an extensive range of moulds to suit most applications.
Iain says that Autolign has seen tremendous growth in the American classic car market and now carry quality MOOG suspension parts especially for US classics.
Iain also pointed out that, in many cases, the alignment specifications of many classic cars are not listed in any database, and owners have to rely simply on the operator to get it right — and that’s why Iain and his team of alignment specialists have been so successful in servicing the classic car market for many years. They have the know-how to recognize what works and what doesn’t — that, according to Iain, is testament to years of experience within the industry.