Front-End Alignment vs 4-Wheel Alignment: Learning The Difference

Posted On: Monday, August 10, 2020

While driving down the road, you may be fighting the steering wheel as your vehicle seems to want to drift off towards the right or left. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it may be time for an alignment. If you get an alignment, you’re ensuring a safer and smoother ride – all while prolonging the life of your tires. Other benefits of wheel alignment include ensuring optimal drivability and consuming less energy (fuel savings).

Your vehicle has four wheels (most likely), and all four must be adjusted for alignment, right? Well, not necessarily. Your car might only need a front-end alignment. So, what’s the difference between a front-end alignment vs. a 4-wheel alignment. You may be surprised to realize that there isn’t much difference at all! Let’s dive into it.

The Difference

Front-end alignment

A front-end alignment is better known as a 2-wheel. As the name suggests, the mechanic will carry out alignment on just the front wheels. Generally speaking, it might include a toe, camber, and caster adjustment. Certain vehicles consist of a solid rear axle that never requires adjustment.

With a front-end alignment, the technician might also require to perform what is called a “thrust angle adjustment”. In general, it’s a procedure that enables the technician to determine that each of the four wheels is “square” with each other.

4-wheel alignment

As you might probably guess, this 4-wheel alignment usually involves an adjustment of all four wheels. Typically, if your vehicle is an all-wheel-drive model comprising independent suspensions, it will need a 4-wheel alignment. Service consists of a caster and front toe adjustment. For the rear wheels, they’ll receive a camber and toe adjustment.

The Importance of Knowing When You Need a Wheel Alignment

Consumers don’t have to understand the exact difference! In case you notice any signs of wheel misalignment (for example, the vehicle’s pulling to one side), your car might need some assistance. The mechanic will decide if a front-end or 4-wheel alignment is appropriate.

Absolute Car Care Performs Front-end and 4-wheel alignment.

If your vehicle’s steering feels a bit off, bring it to Absolute Car Care. Our technicians use the HawkEye Elite Alignment Machine to check for alignment. Allowing the problem to linger might lead to premature severe tire wear. At Absolute Car Care, they perform both front-end and 4-wheel alignment work for all sorts of vehicle models and years. For any questions, call 508 820-9323 or use the contact form to make an appointment.