Most of the time, we don’t put wheel alignment at the top of our automotive needs. Many of us only prioritize regular tune-ups, oil changes and fluid checks. However, this leaves out one of the most important parts of vehicle safety: the tires. Knowing the facts about wheel alignment can help you identify a problem before it gets worse.
1. What is an alignment?
An alignment service is needed when your vehicle’s suspension, steering settings or adjustments are out of specification. Alignments help keep tires angled with each other, and the road. If you don’t get an alignment with new tires, you may experience a rough ride. Uneven tire wear also can shorten your tires’ lifespan.
2. When do I need one?
One of the signs that an alignment is needed is when your car pulls to a particular side when driving. Slight pulling to the left or right is normal, but if you find you have to constantly steer to keep straight, you’ve likely got an alignment problem. A crooked steering wheel is another sign of a misaligned vehicle. Also, while accelerating, your vehicle or steering wheel should not be vibrating so much that you can feel it in your hands. When your vehicle shakes when driving, it may indicate several issues, one of them being wheel misalignment.
3. What if I do nothing?
By doing nothing, you are likely to experience steering problems, uneven tire wear and poor fuel economy. The more misaligned the wheels get, the less reliable your steering will become, which is especially dangerous in rain and snow. In a properly aligned vehicle, all tires will have even wear in consistent spots, but misaligned tires will show wear on the edges or at their weakest points. The harder your vehicle has to work to stay on the road, the more fuel you’re wasting (and paying for). Proper wheel alignment carries over into fuel economy and overall performance.
Find a trusted auto repair shop, which may offer a free alignment check. Ask to see the printout or spec sheet, and have them show and explain what is found.
– Deidre Parker, owner-operator of Chloe’s Auto Repair, holds an ASE certification and has extensive experience in the area of automotive repair.