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Does My Car Need An Alignment

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The Purpose Of An Alignment

How to Tell if Your Car Needs an Alignment

The entire purpose of getting an alignment on your vehicle is to make sure the angle measurements that your tires sit are all equivalent, essentially that they make a rectangle. Getting your wheels aligned also ensures that the tires meet the road at an angle that wears them all relatively evenly.

This does a couple of things for you and your vehicle. First off, you will get much better gas mileage if your tires have been aligned properly. They should be pointing straight and will be centered in their wheel well after a good alignment which ensures there is no unnecessary drag from a wheel that is at an off angle.

A good alignment will also make sure that your tires are all getting worn at the same rate helping to extend the usable life of all your tires and prevent blowouts. It will additionally prevent you from having to replace one tire before the other three.

Tire alignment also impacts how smoothly your car rides. Wheel alignment reduces vibrations by keeping your car as even with the road as possible. Think about it this way: if one wheel is slightly aligned to the right its going to pull your entire vehicle in that direction. You can feel it. If you are struggling to keep your car driving straight to the point where you are fighting even a bit with the steering wheel its probably time to get your wheels aligned.

How Often Should I Get A Tire Alignment

The interval for wheel alignment can vary significantly depending on the type of vehicle you own, your driving habits, and other factors. Most mechanics recommend that you get a wheel alignment once every two or three years. However, the best thing to do is to follow the recommended interval in your owner’s manual.

If your owner’s manual doesn’t specify how often you should have your wheels realigned, you should bring your car to a service center or auto repair shop for a tire alignment checkup at least once a year. Usually, a vehicle’s wheel alignment will be at least slightly off after one or two years of driving. Nonetheless, if your car holds the road well, doesn’t drift to one side, or has evenly worn tires, it isn’t necessary to have its wheels realigned every year.

It’s important to note that there are specific circumstances that may cause your vehicle to require tire alignment on a more frequent basis. Vehicles with wider tires or performance-oriented cars usually need to have their wheels aligned more often. Additionally, you should consider getting a wheel alignment every time you install new tires on your car.

How Do You Know If Your Car Needs An Alignment

Does my car need an alignment? I feel like my car keeps drifting to the right, but it could also be my driving.

check the steering wheel while driving in a straight lineno need to worryextreme cases can lead to bigger problems

  • Uneven tire-wear
  • Steering issues
  • Damage to the suspension system

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Warning Signs You Need Analignment

Posted: Tuesday, June 11th 2013

Proper wheel alignment will not only improve your vehiclesperformance and safety, it will extend the life of your tires. Sohow do you know when its time to bring your vehicle in for afour-wheel alignment or front-end alignment? The short answer is tolisten to your vehicle there are several common warning signsthat its time for service.

Drifting or pulling

Perhaps the most obvious signal that you need an alignment is ifyour vehicle is pulling to one side of the road. If you aredriving on a straight and flat surface and briefly let go of thesteering wheel, does your vehicle want to drift to the left orright? Do you have to constantly steer in the opposite direction tokeep the vehicle driving straight? These are classic symptomsthat the wheels are out of alignment. If the drifting is onlyslight and towards the shoulder, it may simply be that the roadsare sloped, which is common, and there may be nothing wrong withyour alignment.

Steering wheel is off-center

The simplest way to correct this issue is to have a four-wheelalignment done. Since this is often a problem with the rearwheel angle, that needs to be adjusted first. Once the rear wheelsare pointed perfectly straight, theyll adjust the front tie rodsto get the wheels straight in line with the rear tires. This shouldreset the steering wheel back to its normal and centeredposition.

Vibrating steering wheel

Loose steering

Uneven tire wear

The 4 Suspension Angles

Does My Car Need An Alignment?
  • Toe- This is the measurement of the angle at which your sets of tires sit comparatively to each other. Toe in for example is a slightly pigeon toed look. Toe out is where the tires point out slightly away from each other
  • Thrust- this is a measurement involving the front and rear axles and the wheelbase of a vehicle. The thrust line is the angle the back axle is facing in relation to the front. In a perfect world the thrust angle would be aligned with the center of the vehicle.
  • Camber- This is the lean of the tire itself. Ideally a tire will sit perfectly perpendicular to the ground. We do not live in an idealistic world however and any tire will sit slightly inward or outward. A tire that leans in is considered to have negative camber, while a tire that sits out and away from the car has positive camber.
  • Caster- This is the angle of steering pivot in degrees
  • These four components together affect tire movement and positioning.

    After your alignment is complete it is appropriate to ask for a print out of the service. Most mechanics will have no problem providing this. A print out should include before and after photos of the alignment

    If youre wanting to check your toe, camber or caster, I found this video to be extremely helpful. Jump to about the 7 minute mark in for this video if you want a more condensed experience.

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    How Do I Know If My Caris Out Of Alignment

    Signs of a vehicle out of alignment include:

    • Uneven wear across the contactpatch/width of the tire. The inside of the tires is wearing faster. Note that the uneven wear can be limited to just a couple tires, or even just one.
    • Pulsing feedback and shaking ofthe steering wheel, or through the chassis . This feedback occurs regardless of road conditions and road surface imperfections.
    • Steering wheel is off center. When driving straight, the 12 o’clock position of your steering wheel is to the left or right of center.
    • Pulling left or right. Without steering correction as in, with your hands off of the steering wheel the vehicle pulls to the left or right.

    When Does My Car Need Wheel Alignment And Balancing

    When does my car need Wheel Alignment and Balancing?

    Wheel Alignment and Balancing is often thrown at customers as an additional task to be performed during car service. Additional tasks, of course, come at an additional cost! So then the classic car owners dilemma kicks in Do I need it?. Lets help you decide. When do you need Wheel Alignment and Balancing?


    Your car needs Wheel Alignment as well as Balancing every 10,000 kms.

    Reactive :

    Your car needs Wheel Alignment or Balancing in the event any of the following symptoms show up. Remember, Wheel Alignment is generally done for the two wheels at the front, whereas Wheel Balancing is done individually for each of the four wheels so that each wheel remains in balance.

    Your car needs Wheels Alignment if your:

    • Vehicle tends to drift towards the left or right of the road.
    • Vehicle hit a footpath or an obstacle.

    Your car needs Wheels Balancing if your:

    • Vehicle vibrates at certain speeds .

    There are of course more advanced symptoms as well as rear wheel alignment methods, which we decided against featuring here in the interest of simplicity. We hope this article was useful. Happy motoring!

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    The Benefits Of Tire Alignment

    Bad tire alignment can lead to a lot of different problems on a vehicle. Here are some of the reasons it’s not a good idea to keep on driving without a good tire alignment from a professional shop.

    • It aids tire rotation. Even though you may take care to rotate tires every 7000 miles, if the car is out of alignment, they can still wear wrong and get shredded in a relatively short time.
    • It satisfies warranty requirements. If your tires carry a warranty or “lifetime certificate,” check the fine print. It’s likely that it includes the requirement of getting periodic alignments to keep tires from wearing incorrectly. Don’t let your warranty be voided by a lack of proper maintenance.
    • It improves handling. A car with a proper wheel alignment is easier to drive. When dealing with road obstacles such as potholes , you’re one step ahead if you have correct wheel alignment on your vehicle.
    • It reduces wear on steering column. Bad alignment causes wear on a lot of car parts, not just the tires. In extreme situations, a vehicle out of alignment can shake parts and cause even more deterioration. Your best bet is to do periodic alignments so that car systems don’t suffer from being jolted around.
    • Improves gas mileage. Like numerous other car problems, bad alignment can lead to lower MPG as the vehicle puts more energy into its trajectory than it should. Don’t let improper wheel alignment work against the overall health of your vehicle and limit the MPG it gets on the road.

    Do I Need A 2 Or 4 Wheel Alignment

    How Do You Know If Your Car Needs An Alignment

    The type of alignment you need is completely dependent on what type of car you own and the variation of suspension the vehicle has.

    You will need a four wheel alignment if you have a four wheel drive vehicle. Or if you have a vehicle that has a front wheel suspension with an independent or adjustable rear wheel suspension. If you have either of these suspension variations all four wheels will need to be aligned with each other to make a rectangle.

    A two wheel suspension also known as a front-end suspension, which is generally less expensive, will typically suffice for most other types of vehicle. So two wheel drive vehicles will only need to have their front axle aligned or adjusted.

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    What Is A Warranty On A Wheel Alignment

    A wheel alignment warranty is not a guarantee that your wheels will not come back out of alignment, they will. A wheel alignment warranty is instead a promise of continued service. Essentially for the life of your vehicle you can go in and have your wheels aligned as many times as you want.

    Its not as expensive as you might think.. I was surprised to find that most lifetime wheel alignment warranties were a little over double the cost of a standard wheel alignment. These may be a good option for someone who drives a lot of dirt roads or if you intend to keep your car for several years. Ask your mechanic if they offer warranties on their wheel alignments!

    Youve Lifted Or Lowered Your Vehicle

    If youve recently messed with the height of your vehicle this ones for you, realign your suspension. If you did an at home lift kit you DEFINITELY need to get your alignment done. You are messing with the suspension of your vehicle and your wheels are aligned based on your original lift. Lifting or lowering your vehicle will change the camber and toe out. More on what these are later, but yeah, get your wheels realigned.

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    Do I Need An Alignment On My Car

    It can be tricky for an average person to know whether their vehicle needs an alignment or not. Unlike a lot of other automotive systems, theres no warning light to tell you that your car, truck or SUV needs a good straightening out.

    You may need an alignment if you start seeing any of these:

    • Your vehicle drifts to one side or the other.
    • You feel vibration through the steering column.
    • You hear a squeal when cornering.
    • Your tires are wearing unevenly or worn more on the inside than the outside.
    • Your steering wheel isnt straight, even though youre driving straight.

    Local service centers can easily diagnose if your car needs an alignment. And with the Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Range to help out, youll always know a fair price to pay.

    Do You Feel As Though Your Steering Is Loose

    Fort Worth Mechanic: When Do I Need An Alignment On My Car?

    Your car should have a fairly direct response to the direction you steer it. Do you feel as though youre turning the wheel with very little movement? If steering the car feels loose, this can be another sign. Get the alignment checked out.

    today to make an appointment. Our professional staff will get you in and out in a hurry.

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    How Do I Know If I Need A Wheel Alignment

    There are several ways to tell if you need a wheel alignment, but we are going to focus on four main signs your wheels may be misaligned.

    Obviously, your mechanic or dealer will be able to determine whats occurring with your car, but here are a few early indicators you can spot in your garage or on the road.

    Lets start with the more obvious signs your vehicle might need a wheel alignment. Is your steering wheel off-center?

    When driving straight, your cars steering wheel is designed to be perfectly centered.

    Look at the logo in the middle of the wheel to determine this, and pay attention to any horizontal parts that may be off-kilter.

    Is something tilted to one side or the other? This is likely a result of misaligned wheels affecting your steering column and thus the steering wheel.

    Speaking of your steering wheel, is it your car shaking? or your steering wheel vibrates? This is a telltale sign that your wheels might be struggling and you need a tire alignment.

    This can be a sign of several issues, which is why its important to talk to a qualified professional ASAP.

    That said, it is a telltale sign of wheel misalignment, so this could likely be your culprit.

    Something you should be able to notice easily but may not immediately associate with wheel misalignment, is if your vehicle pulls to the left or right when driving.

    Depending on your speed and the condition of the road, slight pulls occur quite frequently.

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    Usually the first thing a driver notices when wheel alignment goes awry is a steering pull to either the left or the right. There is a fine line between a steering pull and a normal drift. All roads are crowned in the centre to provide water drainage the centre line is slightly higher than the outer paved edge. This means if youre driving in the right lane and let go of the wheel, you will drift to the right. An easy way to test if your vehicle really does have a steering pull is to drive on a smooth straight section of an empty parking lot. If the vehicle still pulls to one side, you need to get things checked out.

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    What Is The Average Tire Alignment Price

    The tire alignment price you pay will vary depending on the alignment done and the location. The recommended alignment is a four wheel alignment and you should make sure that this is what you are getting, as you may be charged less for a front wheel alignment or a thrust alignment, which takes care of the rear axle only. A price in the $60 to $85 range is reasonable, depending on various factors. Most mechanics will begin by quoting a higher price than their final offer. Negotiate the price and get the best possible deal. Anyone asking for more than $90 is too expensive, and you should look elsewhere.

    Damage To The Steering System

    Why does my vehicle need an alignment?

    As you might notice, many of the mentioned symptoms of wheel alignments need has to do with the steering system. Therefore, the wheels are highly connected to the steering system. Therefore, any alignment problem could eventually damage the steering system, especially if you ignore the problem for a very long time.

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    Consequences Of Not Getting An Alignment

    Although most drivers usually dont need an alignment more than once every year, you could still get an alignment check every six months. This is a simple way to ensure nothing is wearing excessively, like your tires, says Reed. If you can stop the damage when its minor it could potentially save you a lot of money and time, and minor wear can be corrected if caught in a timely manner.

    Not having your vehicle aligned at regular intervals or after repair can cause damage to your steering gear or linkage. The vibrations make bushings wear faster, Reed says. In addition to the vibrations, you may experience pulling or drifting. However, getting an alignment done regularly prevents these scenarios, so you will likely not have any issues at the time you get the alignment done.

    Some of this content was originally published here.

    Where Should I Get An Alignment Done

    I always recommend using a mechanic you are comfortable with, but again if you need to go to a new mechanic for whatever reason it is best to find one either recommended by someone you know or utilize the information at your fingertips on the internet.

    A good mechanic is likely to be highly rated on google. If you are a first time car owner I would call the mechanic and ask questions concerning price, the machinery they use and any warranty they may offer on their services to get an idea. Always go with your gut on this, if a mechanic seems disinterested or sketchy over the phone its probably best to find one who you are more comfortable with.

    Once you pick a reputable mechanic most will get you scheduled promptly and the service completed within the same day as drop off.

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