Why do cars need regular alignments? Why can’t we build them with fixed, permanent alignment?


Why do cars need regular alignments? Why can’t we build them with fixed, permanent alignment?

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We build them with a “permanent” alignment

Then you hit a pot hole and things bend slightly. Now the slightly bent system hits other bumps and bends a tiny bit more

We do alignments to cancel out all the random tiny bends that will occur because we don’t have infinitely rigid rods, they’re stored beside the infinite ideal heatsinks and we lost the key to the shed.

Leaving the ability to adjust increases the longevity of all parts involved otherwise instead of being able to make tiny adjustments to cancel out changes in suspension strength or exact angles of connections you’d have to replace everything to get it back to target and that’d be way more expensive. You’ll still need to replace things eventually but the ability to adjust for the real world reduces serious maintenance

Like any machine, it needs maintenance. Cars will drive in all sorts of conditions for long distances. Vibrations and such will eventually change the alignment. Depending on the car and driving conditions it might be less frequent. My car shows 80k km and never had an alignment, it drives like day one.

Things wear and bend over time. Most of the time, nothing is adjusted during an alignment check. In reality, you should only be getting an alignment check if your tires are wearing funny, an alignment related part is replaced or new tires. If someone is trying to sell you one outside of those three conditions, they are just making an easy buck at your expense.

We could, and do. But they are heavy and expensive. Think Main Battle Tank, not Toyota Corolla.

Short answer is too many moving parts, both literally and figuratively.

Alignment is dependent on the base frame being in perfect condition, and staying that way. Over time metal fatigue will set in, with over 2 tons of other parts creating stresses, AND thermal cycling, from both general weather conditions as well as friction created by the engine.

Also roads aren’t perfect – bumps and knocks happen. This makes a floating and adjustable suspension preferable to a rigid system.

Interchangable parts allows for replacement of individual components as they wear or are damaged. Parts in the suspension system also fatigue over time, and need individual replacement as a baseline.

Sure, we could replace all the components at once, each time – but that would be wasteful AND prohibitively expensive, summarily becoming inefficient over millions of consumer vehicles and time.