We meet the wheel alignment professionals

We meet the wheel alignment professionals
We meet the wheel alignment professionals

How correct wheel alignment can transform how your car feels

Getting wheel alignment spot-on is a very important topic for many people. So many, in fact, demand from them encouraged Tony Bones to quit his job as a tyre fitter and set up his own business specialising solely on wheel alignment. Meet Wheels in Motion, based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. The company that guarantees to put you on the straight and narrow.

And if all this sounds a bit geeky to you, just think about the last time you drive a car that pulled to one side, or had a steering wheel that wasn’t straight. Annoying, wasn’t it? You may have been fobbed off with talk of it being a characteristic of the car: it’s not, it’s simply wheel alignment that’s been set up by someone without anything like the nous of Tony.

Even brand new cars can suffer from this, he says: nearly-new Mercedes are common visitors to his emporium, he says. “When you take delivery of a new car, one thing they don’t give you is a printout of the wheel geometry so you can see it’s all properly set up. You have to rely on the garage, and they don’t always get it right.”

BMWs can be troublesome too, because the run-flat tyres’ stiff sidewalls knock things out of alignment over time. Tony’s thus created his own secret settings that overcome this for BMW customers: he can also tailor things to those who like normal road driving, fast road driving, track days, competitive track days, hillclimbs, sprints, even drifting. He is the god of all things wheel alignment.

“I’m passionate about wheel alignment,” he says. “I visualise shapes from all angles; the numbers don’t scare me.” Five minutes with him and you can’t ever imagine taking your car anywhere else – no wonder he has so many happy, loyal customers who visit him time and again. Sometimes they’re queuing out the door.

Tony isn’t the only guru at Wheels in Motion, mind; Jason Saunders is in charge of the sales side, Blackboots, and is someone else who has come up through the ranks in the tyre industry. If you want someone to find you rare or high-performance tyres, he’s your man.

Apparently, people who buy Lamborghinis and Ferraris are also people who are careful with their money – and some of them object to the stiff mark-ups some dealers add on to things like tyres. When they’re in getting expert wheel alignment, they also learn about Blackboots’ amazing deals: word quickly spreads.

Indeed, word has spread as far as the Sultan of Brunei, who likes to use Jason to find rubber for his Ferrari F40. There’s a set of Ferrari Enzo tyres in stock as we visit. And everything is fitted by an expensive Boss Touchless Tyre Changer, which guarantees supercar and hypercar alloy wheels will be left unmarked after their tyre change. Something else that’s all just part of the service.

Wheel alignment lingo

  • Ackermann angle: the key to steered wheels being able to follow two different radii
  • Camber angle: the vertical alignment of a wheel
  • Toe: toe-in means angled towards the car; toe-out is angled away
  • Thrust angle: a centreline extending from the rear wheels to the front: cracking this is the key to spot-on wheel alignment
  • Kingpin inclination: the angle of the main pivot point in a steering system from the ground

 

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