When is it time for a wheel alignment?
You may think that your engine, steering column, or brakes are the most important part of your vehicle, but you’d be wrong. When it comes to safety on the road, it’s your wheels and tires that play the largest role in keeping you safe.
Your wheels are always in contact with the road, so your tires need to have good grip, your axles need to be strong and straight, and your wheels need to be aligned. If any one of these things go wrong, you could get into a serious accident.
It’s easy to see when your tires need changing, but how can you know when it’s time to align your wheels? Here are a few signs to look out for:
• Uneven wear — If you notice some of the tire is wearing out more quickly than the rest, it’s a sign the wheel isn’t properly aligned. A quick visual inspection of the tire will show that the tire is unevenly worn, which could increase your risk of flat tires.
• Vibrating steering wheel — When you drive at very high speeds, there is some vibration to be expected from the car. However, this is vibration you feel when you try to drive straight or turn, even at low speeds. It should be a smooth ride, and if there is any vibration, it’s time to get to your auto body shop and get those wheels aligned.
• Off-centered wheel — Your steering wheel should be perfectly centered when driving straight. If the steering wheel is off-center as you drive, it means your wheels are out of alignment.
• Vehicle pulling to left or right — If your car is properly aligned, it should (in theory) drive for miles in a perfectly straight line without your needing to touch the wheel. However, misaligned wheels will drag you to either the left or the right (depending on the misalignment). If you’re not certain, let go of your steering wheel and see which way the car pulls. That’s the direction of the improper alignment, and a sign you need to get the wheels aligned.
The beauty of a wheel alignment is that it’s an incredibly simple job. Any vehicle care center can align your wheels by adjusting your vehicle’s suspension. The wheels aren’t adjusted, simply the angles of the tires. The alignment specialist will adjust the camber (inward or outward tilt of the tires), toe (inward or outward turn of the tires), and caster (steering axis of the vehicle) to ensure everything is just right.
Once you have your wheels aligned, you’ll notice a HUGE difference in your steering. The car will drive straight without pulling to either the left or right, and there will be no vibration of your steering wheel. Your tires will last longer thanks to the vehicle alignment, and you’ll be much safer on the road as a result!