Signs Your Vehicle Needs A Wheel Alignment
A proper wheel alignment is key to a safe and enjoyable driving experience. An improper wheel alignment can cause a poor experience, worn vehicle components, and can be dangerous. In this guide, well discuss why this is the case, as well as some of the signs and symptoms of a vehicle in need of a wheel alignment.
The Purpose Of 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.
What Does Tire Wear Mean To My Cars Alignment
Poor alignment is a common cause of uneven tire wear. Ideally, you should see even wear across your tires treads if you are keeping up with rotations. If youre noticing excessive wear, you may need an alignment adjustment or have too much junk in your trunk.
Poor alignment can shorten your tires lifespan by thousands of miles and compromise crucial steering and suspension components resulting in a big hit to your wallet. Enjoy better fuel economy and longer-lasting tires by having your alignment checked, at the very least, with every other oil change or at the first sign of uneven or premature tire wear.
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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.
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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Your Steering Wheel Is Off Center
A crooked steering wheel is often a sign of a misaligned vehicle. Your steering wheel was designed to be dead center. When you drive down a straight road, check to see where your steering wheel is aligned. An easy way to identify this is to check if the logo in the middle is centered.
Steering Wheel Off Center
Do I Need A Front Or Four
This depends on your vehicle, and whether there are rear adjustments available. Not every vehicle has rear adjustability. If front and rear alignment adjustments are possible, then you’ll want a four wheel alignment. With many shops, the price difference between front and four-wheel alignment services is not significant.
Along with regular tire rotation, keeping your vehicle aligned and within specification will provide proper vehicle handling, and optimum tire wear and longevity. Your local TireBuyer installer can perform vehicle alignments use the link below to find one near you.
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Do I Need A 2 Or 4 Wheel 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.
The Issue With The Squealing Tires
There are two things that are responsible for the wheelâs alignment and that are the camber and toe setting. If one of the mentioned things strays out of the normal position it can lead to an adverse fiction problem which can cause very unpleasant noises in the car.
There is one important thing that people need to understand â wheel alignment is a completely different thing from tire balancing because tire balancing are dealing with the weight distribution across the tire. Many people are confused when it comes to these two procedures. Because the wheel alignment is linked to dealing with suspension positioning.
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How Often Should I Have A Car Alignment
For most cars, there arent specific requirements. However, most auto repair shops recommend performing an alignment every 2 or 3 years, or at the first signs of trouble. Car alignments typically need to be performed more often if the vehicle is a sports car, or the wheels are wider than normal. If you frequently drive on rough roads, end up hitting a pothole or rough bump, the vehicle can end up being thrown out of alignment and should be checked out by a qualified technician. Its also recommended that the car alignment should be inspected every 15,000 miles, even if you dont notice a problem, to catch issues before they happen.
Driving with car alignment problems costs you money, not only decreasing tire life and gas mileage, but adding unnecessary stress to the cars steering equipment and framework. Hi-Tech Car Care employs superior quality technicians , and our shop uses top of the line alignment equipment. Were also a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, and weve been a AAA Top Shop Award Winner since 2003.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for car alignment service at the first sign of trouble, or during your next oil change to catch problems early on.
Is Tire Alignment Really Necessary
Yes, tire alignment is one of the most important maintenance tasks. If your wheels are misaligned, your vehicle will experience a dramatic drop in handling capability. It’ll constantly pull in one direction, which can greatly inhibit its ability to turn or move in a straight line. This not only makes driving more difficult and reduces ride comfort, but it can jeopardize you and your passengers’ safety.
In addition, failure to realign your wheels regularly can cause your cost of car ownership to go up considerably. Wheels that aren’t properly aligned may lead to uneven tire wear, which means you’ll have to replace your tires more frequently. It isn’t uncommon for wheel misalignment to result in flat spots and tire blowouts because it can cause your tires to experience added tension. Also, misaligned wheels can lead to damaged wheel rims and suspension, which can affect the performance and longevity of your vehicle.
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Other Times To Get An Alignment
- When you get new tires.
- Its been over a year since you last aligned your tires.
- Youve driven 6,000 miles
- Youve been in any sort of accident
- You lifted or lowered your vehicle or you had some sort of work done on your suspension
- Any sort of minor collision like hitting road debris or driving through a large pothole or you accidentally drove over a curb
Before we get into the specifics, lets have a very brief lesson on what an alignment is and why they are important.
How Are Wheel Alignments Performed
An ASE-Certified technician performs a free wheel alignment diagnostic which is often paired with a visual inspection of the suspension and steering systems, tire wear and a test drive. Top shops use laser-precise equipment such as the HawkEye Elite system for the fastest and most precise alignments that are void of metal-to-metal contact and rim damage!
These systems use laser technology and cameras to detect any affected wheel alignment angles. The measurements are then compared with the ideal recommendations from your vehicle manufacturer. Once approved by you, the technician can re-align your wheels back to top form.
Laser-Precise Wheel Alignments
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Youve Been In Any Sort Of Accident
A minor fender bender can majorly throw off your suspension. Whether you hit them or they hit you, your car withstood an impact and you should take it in for a check up. An impact that is strong enough to bend steel will likely result in knocking off your alignment. It is smart to have your wheel alignment reset after a minor or major car accident.
Here Are The Signs You Need An Alignment
Hard or Soft Pulling
In most cases, unless the road you are driving on is particularly angled, your vehicle should travel relatively straight. You should never have to yank or forcefully hold your steering wheel to keep your vehicle on a straight path. This is not always observed as a hard pulling many times, a vehicle in need of an alignment may softly pull: slowly drifting to one side or the other, requiring constant correction.
Crooked Steering Wheel
Generally speaking, your steering wheel should be in a straight position for your vehicle to travel straight. If your steering wheel is in a crooked position or if your steering wheel does not return to center after a turn, you need an alignment.
A bad alignment can cause a steering wheel to vibrate, shake, or pull left and right rapidly. This happens when multiple calibrations are off on opposing sides of your vehicle, causing your wheels to be pulled in separate directions. For example, your two front wheels both being toe outward pulls your vehicle left and right at the same time. If severe enough, your entire vehicle may vibrate.
Uneven Tire Wear
In general, your tires should have an even wear across their tread surface. If you notice that the inside or outside of your tires is wearing at a faster rate, your alignment may be the cause.
Some examples of uneven tread on the edges and centers of tires.
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What Is Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment makes sure that the tires are aligned according to the road and each other to make sure they match the manufacturers specifications. Tires alignment involves the adjustment of the vehicles suspension. A suspension is what connects the vehicle to its wheels. Proper alignment means adjusting the angles of the tires, which affects how they come in contact with the road.
Five Critical Car Fluids You Should Always Check
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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Steering Wheel Does Not Centralize Kind Of Problem
Every time you finish with a turn, your steering wheel needs to return to the straight position naturally without your assistance, as you keep driving. Basically, you can check this by moving your hands immediately after the car pulls and see whether or not it will perform in the correct position. If it does not do that, you know what the problem is and how you can fix it.
Ways Of Knowing Your Wheels Need Alignment
When driving your car, there are several ways that you can determine whether your wheels are correctly aligned or not.
1. Uneven tread wear
Scrutinize your car to see if the tear and wear are equal between all wheels. When wheels are correctly aligned, they experience an equal amount of tear. When you find that some wheels are worn out on different sides or angles, they arent correctly aligned. Jagged tears of the tires will result in you changing the wheels every few months, which can cause a financial strain.
A car that has properly aligned wheels has wear in treads at similar angles. To check for this, you can measure the tread depth on each wheel and compare them to each other. Wheels that are properly aligned have the same rubber depth on each tire.
2. Vehicle pulling to the right or left
If you notice your wheels pulling in a different direction than youre steering them to, this might be a result of your wheels not being aligned. You might not view this as a problem, but when youre driving in the rain, your car may hydroplane. When you hydroplane, your car loses traction with the pavement, and you might switch from the lane youre in, causing an accident.
3. Your steering wheel is off-center when driving.
4. Tires squealing when turning
5. Vibrating steering wheel
Aligning your wheels will save you a lot of money that you will spend on fuel and buying tires. If your car has any of the above symptoms, have it checked as soon as you can.
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How Can You Tell If Your Car Needs An Alignment
There are multiple symptoms that are telltale signs that your car needs an alignment. Some of the most common signs are:
- Uneven wear across the contact patch or tire: If you notice that the inside or outside of tires are wearing faster, then your cars alignment could be out of spec. The uneven amount of wear could occur on all four tires or perhaps just one or two.
- Pulsing feedback or shaking in the steering wheel: If your car is out of alignment then you could feel some shaking or vibrating through the steering wheel.
- The steering wheel is off-center: If your cars steering wheel is off-center, or pointing in a different direction when centered, then it definitely needs an alignment.
- Pulling to the left or right: The vehicle pulls to the left or right when your hands are off the steering wheel.
What Is Car Alignment
A car alignment refers to an adjustment of a vehicles suspension the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the tires or wheels themselves. The key to proper alignment is adjusting the angles of the tires, which affects how they contact the road. A car alignment is a complex combination of suspension angles that are measured and suspension elements that are adjusted. This makes a car alignment an important suspension-tuning application that significantly influences the operation of the cars tires.
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Caster Determines Vehicle Stability
Caster is a very important front end alignment angle because it determines vehicle stability. It is the angle of your steering axis when viewed from the side of your vehicle. Looking at your front wheel from the side, imagine a line going straight through the center of the tire from top to bottom. That line represents the position of your front suspension. If your caster is within specs, that line will start towards the rear side of center at the top of the tire, go straight through the center, finishing at the front side of center at the bottom of the tire. This is positive caster. When the caster angle is negative, the axis line will start in front of center and finish behind center.
Caster is measured in degrees, and its essential that the caster angle at both front wheels is equal. The vehicle will always pull to the side of the negative caster. So if your right side caster angle measures at 1 degree positive, and the left side is 1 degree negative, your vehicle will pull to the left.