On all vehicles the geometry can move out of alignment, this is commonly known as misalignment. There are several reasons why cars become misaligned:
1. Through everyday driving, but factors such as kerbing, hitting a potholes etc, can alter it dramatically
2. Worn suspension parts.
3. It may have been wrongly adjusted previously
What is the difference between tracking and four wheel alignment?
Tracking was born of a bygone era, when cars had very little or no adjustment. Any measurement and adjustment tended to be on the front wheels, for the ‘Toe’ angle only. Tracking on the fronts (sometimes called a ‘two wheel alignment’) does not take in account the direction in which the rear wheels are pointing. So if you have the fronts adjusted and set straight, if the rears are out of alignment, the car may pull and tyres could still wear.
In its original sense, Tracking uses gauges (usually the hang-on style) where the operator peers through a ‘scope’ or views a light/laser beam on a scale. This system does not allow for run out compensation (taking account for any errors in the wheel rim), so the reading result can only at best be approximate.
Four Wheel Alignment measures a minimum of 12 angles and compares them to the alignment data specified by the vehicle manufacturer. Wheel rim run-out compensation is taken into account, which gives accurate and repeatable readings. With such accurate readings, Four Wheel Alignment allows toe adjustments of individual wheels which ensure the steering wheel is set straight. Further adjustments of camber, caster and other angles (where necessary) can ensure optimum performance and savings.
On modern cars, tracking alone is unlikely to deliver complete alignment or complete customer satisfaction.
Note – Some Garages use the word ‘Wheel Alignment‘, when actually they only have the capability to offer Tracking.