Automobile

How will I know my car needs a wheel alignment?

When your wheel alignment is incorrect, it can find it difficult to drive safely. Wheel alignment, often known as tire alignment, is a crucial part of maintaining the performance of your vehicle. Misalignment can harm your tires and cause them to wear out sooner than they should. It can also cause the vehicle to pull or cause the steering wheel to be off-center.

In this article, the following questions will be answered:

  • What is wheel alignment?
  • How do I know I need a wheel alignment?
  • What are the common causes of wheel alignment?
  • Why does wheel alignment really matter?
  • What are the common signs that your wheel needs an alignment?
  • What are the types of alignment?
  • How much will wheel alignment cost me?
  • How often should I do the wheel alignment?

How will I know my car needs a wheel alignment

Read more: Understanding Automobile Tire 

What is wheel alignment?

A tire alignment is another term for wheel alignment. The steering and suspension system, which connects the car to the wheels, must be adjusted for wheel alignment. It does not imply that the tires or wheels should be adjusted. Adjusting the angles of the tires, which influence how they make contact with the road, is the key to good alignment.

Alignment can improve the performance of your tires and help them last longer. It can also help your vehicle handle better and avoid tugging in one direction or vibrating unnaturally on the road.

Wheel alignment, often known as breaking or tracking, is a routine automotive maintenance procedure that involves changing the angles of the wheels to the manufacturer’s standards. These modifications are made to save tire wear and guarantee that the vehicle travels straight and true (rather than “pulling” to one side).

To achieve a specific handling characteristic, alignment angles can be changed beyond the manufacturer’s requirements. For a variety of reasons, angles in motorsport and off-road applications may need to be changed much beyond typical.

Read more: Understanding Suspension System

How do I know I need a wheel alignment?

There are a few ways to identify if your car’s tires need to be aligned. If you observe one or more of these signs, you should have your alignment examined by a professional as soon as possible.

  • The vehicle begins to pull to one side.
  • The steering wheel does not return to its original position.
  • The steering wheel is tilted to one side.
  • In some areas, there is excessive tire wear.
  • Steering is rough.
  • Vibrations in the steering wheel

What are the common causes of wheel alignment?

When a professional examine your tire alignment, he or she is looking for three things: camber, toe, and caster.

Camber

When viewed from the front of the vehicle, this is the inward or outward angle of the tire. Negative and positive camber, or inward and outward tilt, respectively, indicate poor alignment and will need to be rectified. Camber misalignment can be caused by worn bearings, ball joints, and other wheel-suspension components.

Toe

Toe alignment, unlike camber alignment, refers to how far your tires spin inside or outward as viewed from above. Simply stand up and look down at your feet if this is confusing. They should be angled inward toward your body’s center.

Toe-in alignment refers to when your car’s tires are tilted in the same direction (remember, we’re talking about birds-ey view). Toe-out alignment is achieved by angling your feet outward. Both need to be tweaked.

Caster

The caster angle of your vehicle aids in steering, stability, and cornering. When viewed from the side of your car, it’s the angle of your steering axis. The steering axis will tilt toward the driver if you have a positive caster. A negative caster, on the other hand, indicates that your vehicle’s steering axis is tilted toward the front.

Read more: How to change a power steering fluid?

Why does wheel alignment matter?

Improper wheel or tire alignment can cause uneven and premature tire wear. Here are some examples of excessive tread wear caused by misalignment:

  • Feathering
  • Camber wear
  • Heel/Toe wear

Feathering

When the tread on one side of a tire is smooth and sharp on the other, it is said to be “feathered.” This is frequently a sign of misalignment of the toes.

Camber wear

The inside or outside of the tread is much more worn than the center of the tread due to this strain of tread wear. Positive or negative camber, as the name implies, produces this type of wear.

Heel/Toe wear

When one side of your tread block wears down faster than the other in a circumferential direction, this happens. When you run your fingers over the tread from the side, it will look and feel like saw teeth. Underinflation and/or a lack of rotation could cause heel/toe damage.

If you notice any of these unusual wear patterns, have your alignment checked by a mechanic. While preventing tire wear is a solid reason to keep your wheel alignment in check, misalignment can also have an impact on overall vehicle performance. A car that pulls to one side or steers erratically, for example, is most likely suffering from an alignment issue.

Read more: How Much Does an Alternator Replacement Cost?

Join our Newsletter

What are the signs my car wheel needs an alignment?

Although an actual check is required to determine whether your vehicle’s wheels are misaligned. However, there are four tell-tale symptoms that your wheels are misaligned. These signs include:

  • When you pull left or right
  • When your steering wheel is off
  • When your steering wheel is shaking
  • When you notice an abnormal tire wear

 

When you pull left or right

When your car pulls to one side while driving, this is one of the easiest indications to spot. Although little pushing to the left or right is typical, if you find yourself constantly steering to stay straight, you most certainly have an alignment issue.

When your steering wheel is off

A misaligned car is often indicated by a crooked steering wheel. Your steering wheel was built with a dead center in mind. Check the alignment of your steering wheel when driving along a straight route. Check if the logo in the middle is centered to see if this is the case.

When your steering wheel is shaking

Your vehicle or steering wheel should not vibrate to the extent that you can feel it in your palms when you accelerate. When your car shakes while driving, it could indicate a number of problems, one of which is wheel misalignment. An ASE-Certified technician would need to diagnose the problem to see if the problem is caused by misalignment or by anything else.

When you notice an abnormal tire wear

Tire wear is a good predictor of potential vehicle problems. Tire wear should be evenly distributed on both the inner and outside of the tire. You can immediately detect irregular tire wear with your own eyes or with the help of a trained mechanic. Abnormal tire wear, like automobile shaking, can signal a variety of problems, one of which is wheel misalignment.

Read more: Understanding Automatic Transmission System

What are the types of wheel alignment?

An ASE-Certified technician will be able to determine the best alignment for your car based on its year, make, and model. The common types of alignment include:

  • Two-wheel alignment
  • Four-wheel alignment
  • Thrust alignment

 

Two-wheel alignment

There are two-wheel alignments. Alignments are often known as “front-end” alignments. Only the two front wheels are aligned in this procedure. This is due to the fact that the rear suspension on many automobiles is not designed to be adjusted.

Four-wheel alignment

There are four-wheel alignments. Alignment is performed on all four wheels, as the name implies, and is normally only done on all-wheel-drive cars. Intriguingly, front-wheel-drive vehicles with adjustable rear suspensions may nevertheless benefit from four-wheel alignments.

Thrust alignment

Thrust alignments are sometimes combined with two-wheel alignments. When specialists make sure the front wheels are aligned with the back wheels, this happens.

Watch the video below to learn how wheel alignment is done:

Read more: Working principle of a manual and automatic transmission system

How much will wheel alignment cost me?

The cost of a front-end alignment is normally between $65 – $100. (Some brands, of course, are more). It should be a regular part of your car care routine at that price. Some car maintenance facilities offer lifetime alignment packages for roughly $200 to make an alignment even more affordable. For the duration of your ownership, your automobile will receive a planned alignment every 6,000 miles (or as needed).

Only one set of wheels is checked during a single alignment. Most mechanics will charge between $50 – $100 for this service. Both sets of wheels are checked during a full alignment. Most mechanics will charge between $150 – $200 for this service. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though, like most auto repairs. A mechanic may charge more on cars that are pretty advanced or require specialized equipment.

Furthermore, having your car aligned may necessitate extra repairs. The mechanics may discover problems with components such as the suspension, which must be repaired before moving on to the alignment, or the brakes, which must be repaired before returning you to the road. This can also raise the price. A lot of new automobiles come with a guarantee that covers alignment for a certain length of time.

Read more: How much will it cost to repair my car heater?

How often should I carry out wheel alignment for my car?

It is generally advised that you have your wheels aligned every 2 to 3 years. However, it is best to get a wheel alignment every time you change the oil in your car to ensure the optimum safety for your automobile, yourself, and anyone around you.

There are no precise specifications for most autos. The wheel alignment should be done every two to three years or if there are symptoms that the alignment is incorrect, according to your mechanic. When new tires are installed, wheel alignment is frequently advised.

If your automobile has wider tires or is a sports car, such as an Audi, BMW, Mazda 3, Nissan 370Z, or other, it should be aligned more frequently. Re-checking the wheel alignment after a year or two of driving, we’ve found that it’s normally slightly off. The alignment will most likely be off if you hit a large bump.

However, if your car maintains a good grip on the road, doesn’t pull to the side, and the tires wear evenly, you won’t need to do a wheel alignment every year. Wheel alignment isn’t usually included in a vehicle’s maintenance schedule, but it’s worth inspecting if a tire is wearing unevenly.

Read more: How to fix your car AC in a few steps

In Summary

Wheel alignment is the alignment of a vehicle suspension. It is a process that helps the tires perform well and last longer. Wheel alignment is recommended to be done every two to three years. The cost of wheel alignment differs; front-end alignment usually costs between $60 – $100. Car model, manufacturer, and types can also determine the cost. However, your car insurance can cover this. Misalignment can cause uneven wear to the tires.

I hope you learn a lot from this post, if so, kindly share with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!