Drive Straight: When to Fix Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is part of routine maintenance needed to keep a car on the road. Fixing wheel alignment involves the adjustment of the angles of the wheels to align with the specifications set by the car maker.

Here are some tips to recognize wheel alignment issues. The sooner you take the car to a mechanic in these situations, the better.

The Objective of Wheel Alignments

The objective of a wheel alignment repair is to reduce the wear on a vehicle’s tires and the guarantee that the travel of the vehicle is straight. The normal alignment typically takes about an hour to complete, when there are no additional issues associated with the routine alignment. Knowing exactly when to do or have an alignment done can be very important.

The Car Pulls

The very first tell-tale sign that a car needs an alignment adjustment is that it begins to pull. This means the car drifts or pulls to the left or right when a car is being steered straight. When the pull reaches the point that it feels as if the car is attempting to turn, it is beyond time to have an alignment done. Do you notice that you actually have to pull the wheel a certain way to make the car aim straight? If you hold the wheel loosely in your hands does it start to veer? This means the car is pulling and needs to be adjusted.

The Steering Wheel is Effected

The steering wheel can be effected in two ways when a car needs an alignment adjustment. The first, is that it is off center or sits crooked even though the car is traveling straight ahead. This occurs as a result of the toe being out of alignment. Your steering wheel should be right-side up when traveling straight. The second sign is the steering wheel vibrating. The vibrations occur after the tires have begun to wear out do to improper alignment. If your car, and especially your steering wheel, begins to shake as you increase speed, have the vehicle checked for alignment issues.

Wear on Tires

An easy way to know if a vehicle needs an alignment is to check the wear of the wheels. If the pattern is significantly worn more on one side of the tires than it is on the other side, it is definitely time for an alignment. The angle of the wheels is off and so the tires aren’t sitting centered on the road, causing the uneven wear.This may also mean it is time for new tires.

Alignments are very important in keeping a car up and running. It is recommended that the alignment of a vehicle is checked every six months to ensure none of the above happens. Having an alignment done when new tires are placed on the car is recommended as well.

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