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Fron end alignments

can front wheel or all wheel or 4 wheel drive cars be aligned or ever need alignment?

The drive method has nothing to do with either the need for wheel alignment, or whether wheels can be aligned. FWD, AWD, and 4WD vehicles can be aligned, and do need to be aligned periodically, just as a RWD vehicle does.

To be more specific–Every vehicle’s front wheels can be aligned.
If vehicle has independent rear suspension (rather than a solid axle), then the rear wheels can also be aligned.

A vehicle with a solid rear axle does not normally need any adjustment/alignment in the rear unless there has been some kind of damage/repair to the rear suspension.

Can you be specific as to why you are asking this question? If you are more specific–particularly if you tell us what type of vehicle you are concerned about–we can probably provide a more specific answer.

Yes, ALL cars need periodic wheel alignment. The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all cars. The rear wheel alignment is adjustable on some cars. On cars with a fixed rear axle the “thrust angle” can be set so that the front and rear wheels track correctly.

It doesn’t matter whether a car is front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or all wheel drive. All cars need to have their wheels aligned for proper operation.

All cars have adjustments for front wheel alignment. Rear wheel alignment varies, generally a rwd or 4wd cannot have the rear wheels aligned. The exception to this is with independent rear axles.

Ocassionally, you can find a car that never needs an alignment, my 02 Saturn has gone 184k without one, and it hasn’t needed one. It tracks straight and the first tires lasted 84,700 miles, i"m still using the second set. When I get home from work tomorrow, they will have gone 100k miles.

But that car is an exception, and I don’t think that it is a Saturn has anything to do with it, I just got lucky with that one. With most other vehicles, once I got them aligned right, they never needed another one, but sometimes a vehicle would need a periodic alignment for some reason or another. BTW, I live in a rural area and I hit a lot of potholes and bumps, there are some pretty rough roads out here, and I drive pretty fast.

If your vehicle isn’t tracking correctly and/or the tires are wearing out quickly and with an unusual wear pattern, you need to have all the components inspected, any worn, damaged, defective parts replaced and then get the front wheels/ four wheels aligned. If you don’t have a problem, leave it alone.

Please tell us the brand of tire that lasts 100K miles. I’ll be needing tires soon and I will definitely consider whatever brand you put on your Saturn after the OE tires wore out.

The OEM were Firestone FR680. I hated them, they had poor traction and were noisy. The replacements are Bridgestone Turanza LS-T. They are very quiet and have surprisingly good traction. They are down to 3/32" now so I am also looking for replacements. I would get another set but they are no longer in production.

I don’t think I will get Michelin. I’ve never gotten more than 50k out of them. My Nissan truck cam with Firestone FR480 tires that lasted 102k miles, I hated them too for the same reasons I hated the FR680’s, I replaced them With Michelin X1 tires. Great traction and low noise, but worn out at 50k and they were pricy. Looking for replacements for them as well, but in both cases, there isn’t much selection available for 14" rims.

All cars should have a periodic inspection (say every 40-50k miles) and even more frequently if there have been any curb strikes, severe pothole hits, or sliding into the ditch on ice.
Suspension work such as strut changes also mean an alignment should be done.

A good alignment tech will also examine suspension components for wear and advise the owner of the car.
If you’ve ever seen a vehicle sitting on the side of the road with a wheel splayed out flat due to a broken ball joint then that is the result of NOT having an alignment or suspension check performed on a regular basis.

Tire wear has more to do with the operating conditions than the tire itself. I’ve had a tire get 107,000 and another set get 7,000 and the difference was how the tires were used - straight line driving vs lots of turns.