How Do You Know When You Need A Wheel Alignment

If your steering wheel doesn’t stay straight and begins to vibrate when you drive, you need to get your wheels checked out.

Keeping the wheels of your vehicle properly aligned not only ensures that you drive in a straight line when you’re on the road, it also protects the general wellbeing of your vehicle. Misalignment of your wheels can cause your tires to wear irregularly and negatively affect the overall handling of your vehicle.

How to Know Your Wheels Need Alignment

1. Your Steering Wheel Doesn’t Stay Straight When You’re Driving

Normally, when driving your vehicle, if you let go of the steering wheel, it should stay centered. It may drift a little if the road is curved to the right or left, but it usually stays centered.
If you let go of your steering wheel while driving and it drifts swiftly to the left or right, that is a good sign that your wheels are out of alignment. You may also feel this pull while driving.
When you get your wheels aligned, the technician will make sure your wheels align with the steering column. This should eliminate the pull you feel when driving.

2. Your Tires Begin to Wear and Tear Abnormally

Ideally, all the tires on your vehicle should wear down at the same rate, as long as you properly rotate them at the recommended mileage for your vehicle.
The tire should wear down at the center, where it has the most contact with the ground. When your wheels are not properly aligned, you may begin to see abnormal wear patterns on your tires.
Your tires will seem to be wearing down more on one side than the other. It is essential for your tires to wear down evenly. This provides a smooth riding experience when you use your vehicle.
When your tires wear evenly, you will also be able to replace them all at once, which is the best way to replace them.

3. Your Wheels Starts to Vibrate

When you drive over bumps on the road, you feel them but your steering wheel will not vibrate. Although, when your wheels are misaligned, your steering wheel may vibrate as you go over them.
Your tires can go off balance if you drive over a pot-hole or use the vehicle off-road. You may not notice this when you are driving at slower speeds but as soon as your speed increases, you will feel the vibrations in your steering.
You feel the vibrations at higher speeds because your tires are rotating faster. If you don’t get your wheels aligned over time, the vibrations will get worse and can destroy other things in the vehicle. This can compromise your ability to properly hold the steering wheel as you drive on the road.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. How Do Vehicle Wheels Become Unaligned?

Your vehicle’s wheels can become misaligned if you hit a bump or pothole, have an accident or as a result of worn out suspension parts that cannot support the weight of the vehicle any longer.

2. How Are Wheels Aligned?

Wheels are aligned using a device called an alignment machine. This device uses computer measurements and readings to position and adjust your vehicle’s suspension system. When this is done, your wheels will fall in place and align with each other.

3. What Are the Benefits of Aligning Your Wheels?

When your wheels are properly aligned, your tires will last longer. Unaligned wheels can cause uneven wear and tear on your tires. This causes one of your tires to wear out before the others do.

4. Does wheel Alignment impact your Vehicle’s Safety?

While it is best to have your tires aligned, wheel alignment usually does not severely impact your vehicle’s safety. In some instances, however, poor wheel alignment can contribute to veering and less responsive handling. These two things can make driving more dangerous. 

5. Does Wheel Misalignment Cause Vibrations?

Wheel misalignment is often thought to be the culprit of unusual shakes or vibrations in a vehicle. However, this might not be the case. A proper wheel alignment will solve only about 1% of your vehicle’s vibration issues. More feasibly, unwanted vibration in a car may be linked to improper wheel assembly or driveline problems.

Wrap Up!

Always monitor your vehicle and fix any irregularities that you can find. If you use your vehicle regularly either for on or off road commuting, you may need to get your vehicle in alignment sooner than you think.

Also look out for irregular wear patterns on the vehicle so that you can fix the problem before it severely damages your vehicle.

John D. Archer