Checking wheel alignment is often overlooked by many drivers, as it’s usually not the first maintenance task on the list! However, by neglecting to correct misalignment, you run the risk of allowing more serious issues to develop with the systems of your vehicle, so it’s a good habit to keep an eye out for anything that may indicate you need this service!
What Causes Wheels To Go Out Of Alignment?
Many factors could cause wheels to become misaligned, such as:
- Your vehicle suddenly jarring, such as driving over speed bumps, potholes, or bumping the curbs at high speeds regularly.
- If you have a car accident or experience a sudden impact hit.
- Worn parts caused by wear and tear over time, such as worn shock absorbers or suspension springs can lead to a shift in the alignments of your wheels.
- When you modify the height of your vehicle and the suspension has not been changed to match the modified height, it could cause problems with your wheel alignment.
What Problems Can Misaligned Wheels Cause?
If your wheels are misaligned it could eventually cause other problems to develop with your vehicle:
- If you are experiencing lower fuel efficiency, it may be because misaligned wheels have a greater resistance with the road, which will mean the vehicle is using more fuel.
- Tyre performance will decrease rapidly because the tread depth on them will become uneven, and they will wear out a lot faster than normal. This could be a serious hazard to other drivers and yourself, as there is an increased risk of having an accident.
- You could also lose handling of your vehicle, which in turn, could result in an accident, as you will find it difficult to conduct emergency manoeuvres whilst at high speeds.
Symptoms Of Bad Car Wheel Alignment
Steering: When you’re on a drive and you notice that your vehicle’s logo on the steering wheel is not straight, this could be your first sign that something isn’t right with your suspension. Your steering wheel should be sitting in the centre most of the time whilst you are driving, therefore, if you feel like you are holding the wheel in a position that would usually make your vehicle go off the road, then you should be checking your wheels are aligned properly.
Steering Wheel Vibrating: If your steering wheel is vibrating when you’re driving, this could be due to incorrect alignment, as the wheels could be pulling against each other. If the seats and the entire car is shaking, make sure you get them checked out as soon as possible as the problem has become quite severe!
Loose Steering Wheel: If your steering wheel has become loose or you feel like it isn’t giving you a proper response whilst you are making harder turns, there could be a problem. Whilst alignment could be the culprit, you should also have your power steering looked at by a professional.
Steering Wheel Does Not Return To Its Centre Position: When you put your steering wheel into a full lock, it should automatically start to go back into the centre position when you are driving. You can check your steering wheel does this by driving on a quiet road after turn, and seeing if it goes back into place. If it doesn’t do this, your suspension components may need to be checked.
Drifting or Pulling: If you feel like your vehicle is drifting or veering/pulling to one side when you are driving on a straight road, this could likely mean that your wheels might be misaligned. It may be a serious issue if you feel like you have to put constant pressure on the steering wheel to keep it straight and if you tend to veer to one particular side.
Another issue is passive pulling, which is when your car moves to one side and then another. To test if this is happening to your vehicle, use an empty road and drive without your hands on the steering wheel to see if it moves in this way. If it does pull to one side, you should initially check that your tyre pressure is at the correct level and if this is not the culprit, then go get your alignment checked.
Tyres Squealing: If you can hear lots of strange noises coming from the wheels of your car, this could be due to the camber, caster or toe angles, as incorrect positioning can cause adverse friction between the tyres and the road.
On a side note, there also could be a problem with tyre balancing which is a completely different issue to wheel alignment. It’s best you get a professional opinion on the matter.
Uneven Tyre Wear: When you look at your tyres and see that it is more worn on one side than the other, then it means that you have an alignment problem. It’s recommended that you regularly inspect your vehicle’s tyres for the type of wear they have.
How To Avoid Alignment Problems
You can take steps to make sure that wheel alignment issues can be avoided, some being:
- Remove Unnecessary Weight: Get rid of anything that could make your car too heavy on a journey, as excess weight can cause misalignments in your wheels.
- Tyre Pressure: Ensure that all your tyres have the same air pressure level. When your tyres all have different amounts of air in them it could not only cause misalignment issues but also uneven tread wear.
- Drive Carefully: Hitting speed bumps and potholes at high speeds are bound to knock your alignment out of place. Driving slowly and carefully will place less strain on the steering and suspension and will allow you to avoid needing any alignment adjustments.
The Benefits Of Keeping Your Wheels Correctly Aligned
There are many benefits to ensuring your alignment is correct, as prevention is better than cure!
- Longer tyre lifespan, as misalignment can cause premature wear, regardless of whether you rotate them regularly.
- Improved handling of your vehicle, especially manoeuvring around obstacles, such as potholes.
- You can prevent premature wear and tear on your steering column, as badly aligned wheels can cause suspension and steering problems.
- Better miles per gallon, meaning fewer fuel costs.
Wheel Alignment Near Me
If you’re in need of a wheel alignment service, whether it’s for your front wheels or you’re in need of a four-wheel alignment, you should book in with your local specialists. By maintaining correct alignment, you will reduce uneven wear patterns on your tyres and in turn, avoid premature wear on them. Also, it will improve your steering and save you some cash by reducing your vehicle’s fuel consumption!