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How To Tell If Your Car Needs An Alignment

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What Is A Wheel Alignment

How to Tell if Your Car Needs an Alignment

Despite the name, a wheel alignment isnt an adjustment of the wheel and tire themselves. In fact, they’re performed by adjusting your cars steering and suspension, which connects your vehicle to its wheels. Proper alignment is achieved by adjusting the angles of your tires, which impacts how they make contact with the road. Every vehicles optimal alignment angles are dependent upon the make, model, and manufacturer’s recommendations.

What’s The Difference Between Wheel Alignment And Balancing

Wheel alignment describes how your wheels sit when they are mounted on your car. It has more to do with the vehicle suspension system than the wheels itself. It is all about what angles and direction your wheels roll along. There are three variables in the mechanics of wheel alignment, namely: toe, camber and caster alignment.

Possible causes of wheel misalignment:

  • negotiating a turn too sharp
  • exerting too much strain on wheel or axle
  • hitting too hard on a bump
  • Also, the stress caused by your day-to-day driving for years can eventually lead to one or more of the wheels getting out of alignment.

    Wheel balancing, on the other hand, is what you do to make the car wheel balanced perfectly all way round. The goal is to avoid the weight of the wheel from being one-sided. When one side of the wheel is heavier or thinner than another, the wheel will vibrate as it rotates, causing a wobbly ride.

    Even with modern designs and the technology we have today, it is impossible to acquire equal weight distribution in tyre productions. So, the process of wheel balancing is needed to fix these abnormalities each time you replace your tyres with new ones.

    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.

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    Testing Whether You Need An Alignment

    If you dont meet any of the above criteria to your knowledge, you may still need an alignment. There are a few ways you can assess the health of your cars suspension without taking it into a mechanic.

    I remember my dad testing the alignment of our vehicles growing up. When driving cautiously on an empty road he would check by loosening his grip on the steering wheel just enough so it could slide through his hands.

    If the car continued to drive straight that was an indication that the alignment was probably still very good. If the vehicle pulled to one side depending on severity you could tell how badly the cars wheels were aligned.

    After several tests on different roads you will know whether or not you have a problem. It is best to test the theory on several different roads. If the road you are driving on is higher in the center your vehicle may veer to one side while trying to find a level surface which may not indicate alignment.

    It is important to note that while this theory generally does point to wheel alignment, pulling to one side can also be indicative of things like low tire pressure so if you are using this method you should still have an expert determine what the source of the issue is.

    Another great way to tell if your tires need to be aligned is by looking at your steering wheel when youre driving straight. If the steering wheel is not also straight you may want to have your alignment checked by a professional.

    Should I Align My Tires Before Or After I Get New Tires

    How To Know If Your Car Needs Alignment

    If you are not doing your alignment at the same time as the new tires are being put on and balanced the mechanics recommend having the alignment done first. After you have your new tires they recommend having it slightly touched up.

    Its in good practice to get these two done at the same time. Align your wheels when you get new tires for optimal results.

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    Checking Your Own Alignment

    Many individuals believe you have to go to a mechanic to get an official diagnosis on your vehicles alignment. While this is true in some regard, you can actually check certain aspects of the alignment of your vehicle at home. The toe for example is relatively simple to self diagnose. Depending on your comfortability, you still may want to go to a professional. Look over this list and see if you want to try this at home:

  • Park your vehicle on a nice even paved surface, your garage should work.
  • Center your steering wheel. You want your tires to be pointed straight ahead.
  • To check the toe of your vehicle you want to jack up the front tires. Make sure you secure the vehicle completely.
  • While spinning the tire, use a can of spray paint to make a line around the tire on the tread by holding your hand in one spot, I recommend balancing your elbow here to get an accurate result.
  • Repeat this on the other front tire and then again on the back tires.
  • Take the car off of the jack, then measure from line to line with the vehicle again on an even surface.
  • To determine the toe, compare the measurements between the number you calculated between your front tires and back tires.
  • Recenter your steering wheel then adjust the tie rods on each side the same amount.
  • Remeasure the toe and if needed repeat steps 3-8 until the toe is within spec
  • Next youll want to ensure that the adjuster-sleeve nuts are in factory spec. Adjust these as needed.
  • How To Tell If Your Car Is Out Of Alignment

  • Maintenance
  • How To Tell If Your
  • The wheel alignment of your car is critical to its performance. It can impact your fuel efficiency, the wear on your tires, how your tires perform as well as the handling and maneuverability of your car. There are some fairly easy ways to tell if the alignment of your car needs to be addressed so that your car is running at its maximum efficiency.

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    Car Pulls To One Side

    It is always a good idea to keep your hands on the wheel. However, even if you let go, your car should drive straight on a level road surface. If letting go makes the car steer to one side, then you may have faulty alignment. This may be caused by the caster , being off. Try the letting go test, in controlled circumstances, on several different roads. If the car pulls the same way every time, the alignment may need fixing. On a front wheel drive car, if the caster is off, something may be broken and need replacement. Be aware that pulling is not always because of front end alignment it can also be caused by the brakes, the power steering or the tires not being inflated correctly and equally.

    What To Look For While Driving

    How To Tell If Your Car Needs an Alignment

    While driving on a flat, dry road, you may notice that your car is pulling to one side of the road or the other. You may also notice that when you make slow turns, the car makes a squealing sound or that your steering wheel seems to be off-center. Your steering wheel may also vibrate as you drive. If your car is experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to bring it in for an alignment as soon as you can.

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    How Often Should I Get My Tires Aligned

    Getting a tire alignment is one of the regular maintenance tasks required to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition. To make sure your car will run properly and safely, you need to have its wheels realigned at an auto repair shop or service center at a certain interval or when symptoms of misaligned wheels show. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn whether it’s necessary, how often you should get a tire alignment, and how long an ordinary alignment takes. Then see how Kia service coupons, service financing, or the Kia warranty can help you save on your next tire alignment. If you aren’t sure if the Kia warranty is right for you, check our page that goes into detail about it.

    The 4 Suspension Angles

  • 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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    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.

    The Handling Feels Loose When Driving

    Ways to Tell Your Car Needs Alignment

    If the steering in your car feels a little loose or unstable, one of the possible causes is poor wheel alignment. This can be felt as wandering across the road when driving, or the car may feel very loose and sloppy around corners. If you notice symptoms like this, you should have the alignment checked and corrected if necessary.

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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

    What You Can Do To Prevent Needing An Alignment All The Time

    There are a couple driving skills you need in order to prevent knocking your tires out of alignment. First thing, check your tire pressure often. Keeping the right amount of air in your tires will help them balance out when they hit a deep hole. You also need to start paying attention to the road & avoid as many potholes as possible. And, try not to hit the curb when parking Lastly, when you notice you need an alignment, get it done asap so it doesnt progress & ruin your tires completely.

    If you take care of your car, your car will take care of you. Ive said this numerous times but it is true!

    As always, #motorwithconfidence

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    Your Steering Wheel Is Shaking

    If you can feel the steering wheel or column vibrate or shake when you accelerate or hit the brakes, its time to take your vehicle in to have a technician check the alignment. There are several issues that may cause this condition, and our friendly pros at Highland Tire can give you a quick diagnosis.

    How Fast Will Tyres Wear With Bad Alignment

    How To Tell If Your Car Needs An Alignment-Car Maintenance

    If your tyre alignment is out of spec, it’s only a matter of a few months before you lose your tyres. It varies widely between vehicles, type of tyre, mileage, driving style and road conditions. One thing is certain: an out-of-alignment suspension will excessively and prematurely chew through your tyres.

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    How To Know If Your Car Needs A Wheel Alignment

    When you drive a car, you mostly feel how the car is doing. Like when your car brake seems to be a little loose or when your accelerator is not working fine. There are many components of the car which need your regular attention. If you ignore whatever slight change you feel in your car, you might be going in the wrong direction. Regular servicing of your car and its components is of utmost importance for you and your familys safety.

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    The Steering Wheel Is Off

    One of the fastest ways to diagnose off-center wheels is via the steering wheel. Correctly aligned tires will allow the wheel to center and appear in the normal position. When tires are not aligned, its common for a wheel to maintain a slight tilt, even when the vehicle travels straight. Attempting to adjust back into the centered position will cause the car to turn slightly in one direction.

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    Is Tire Balancing Necessary

    Often confused with wheel alignment, tire balancing is important for assuring the best performance from a vehicle, and for gaining the longest service life from tires. Tire balancing provides a smooth ride and assures even tire wear by properly adjusting the tire weight distribution around the vehicle.

    Big Chief Tire Performs The Best Wheel Alignments In Jacksonville

    How Do You Know If Your Car Needs An Alignment?

    At Big Chief Tire, your safety is our priority. Bring your car in for an inspection so we can get you back on the road safely. Schedule an appointment for anything from a wheel alignment to new tire installation, to a brake inspection in advance online and receive $10 off any service.

    *This blog was updated on February 19, 2021, to include What is a wheel alignment? and Big Chief Tire Performs the Best Wheel Alignments in Jacksonville.

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    Should I Balance My Tires Before An Alignment

    • Score4.1/5

    You don’t have to balance your tires before an alignment, it is completely up to you. … Tire balancing is done to restore tire balance due to uneven wear etc. While tire alignment is done to adjust the angle of your car’s wheels to the proper position.Read more

    • How to Tell if Your Car Needs an Alignment

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    How Do I Know If I Need A Tire Alignment

    There are a couple ways to tell if your car needs a tire alignment. If you’ve noticed one or more of these indicators, you should have your alignment checked by a licensed service technician immediately.

    Uneven tread wear

    Vehicle pulling to the left or right

    Your steering wheel is off center when driving straight

    Steering wheel vibration

    When a technician checks your tire alignment, he or she is mainly concerned with three things:

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    When You Should Get Your Wheels Aligned

  • 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
  • You Notice Abnormal Tire Wear In Certain Spots

    How Do You Know If Your Car Needs An Alignment

    Tire wear patterns can provide a lot of useful information about the condition of a car. A qualified technician can use tire wear patterns to make educated guesses about tire pressures, suspension condition, and alignment problems. Wear on only the inside or outside edges of tires can indicate a problem with the camber adjustment. Feathering or scalloping of the tires often indicates a problem with the toe adjustment. Tire wear is most often noticed by a mechanic while performing a tire rotation or an inspection performed during a service. Proper alignment greatly increases the life of your tires, so if you have any abnormal tire wear patterns, you should have an alignment performed on your vehicle.

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