TSTC instructor explains importance of keeping automobile tires properly aligned

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TSTC Auto Collision and Management Technology instructor Jesus Reyna (left) explains a wheel alignment process to student Jesus Padron during a recent lab session. (Courtesy: Texas State Technical College/TSTC)

HARLINGEN — Routine vehicle maintenance or a wheel alignment can help prevent a severe automotive collision.

Jose Vasquez is the Auto Collision and Management Technology program director at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Harlingen. Recently he shared how preventive maintenance can help consumers avoid a visit to an auto body repair shop.

How is wheel alignment factored into auto body repair?

Although wheel alignment or suspension work is done in an automotive department, damage repairs are sent to an auto body repair shop. At TSTC, students in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program are getting trained to work on collision repairs, structural parts, suspension components and brakes, and any other adjustments that were part of the accident. The finalization would be to check that everything is within the manufacturer’s specifications.

How can a wheel alignment prevent an accident after the auto body repair process?

Having a wheel alignment done on an automobile that has been involved in an accident or repaired can identify if suspension damage is going to cause the vehicle to wear out its tires or potentially lead to an accident since it hasn’t been diagnosed. In many instances, a wheel alignment may need to be an adjustment on the suspension parts. That’s why there’s a recommendation for customers to have a wheel alignment completed on their automobile every 6,000 to 10,000 miles.

If my car pulls to the left or the right, what is that telling me?

When an automobile has not had a wheel alignment and tires have not been balanced, it will pull to the left or right side of the road. The result can lead to a potential accident, rollover, or collision with another vehicle. That’s why ensuring wheel alignment is important to avoid an auto body repair.

How does not having a proper wheel alignment affect fuel efficiency?

When your tires are out of alignment and begin to wear out unevenly, that tends to cause an automobile to burn more fuel and combat the rotation on the thread. A vehicle will then put more revolutions per minute and will cause the consumer to spend more money on fuel and affect fuel efficiency.

What type of equipment is used to identify a wheel alignment problem?

In TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program, students are educated with a state-of-the-art Hunter HawkEye Elite alignment machine that is recommended by our industry partners.

According to onetonline.org, automotive body and related repairers in Texas earn an average of $46,270 a year. The website projected that there would be a 14% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Auto Collision and Management Technology with refinishing and repair specializations at its Harlingen and Waco campuses. Certificate options also are available.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.