Maintaining proper wheel alignment is important to avoid unnecessary wear on your tires, suspension, steering, and brakes. It also maximizes tire life and optimizes driving stability and the vehicle’s overall handling performance. A properly aligned vehicle also gets better gas mileage. So, how do you know it’s time to take your vehicle for a wheel alignment? Watch out for these common warning signs.
Pulling or drifting
The most obvious sign that your vehicle needs an alignment is that it pulls to one side of the road. When you are driving on a flat and straight surface, and you leave your steering wheel for a few seconds, if the vehicle drifts to the left or right, it means your vehicle needs alignment. Sometimes, a slight drifting towards the shoulder occurs when the road is sloped. This does not mean that the alignment is wrong. It is only when the vehicle drifts to one side even on a flat surface that it means something is wrong with the alignment.
The steering wheel isn’t centered
When you are not turning, the steering wheel should be perfectly centered and straight. The easiest way to ensure that the steering wheel is perfectly centered is to look at the car emblem on the center of the steering wheel. If it looks crooked, there is something wrong with the alignment.
Uneven tire wear
Ideally, all your tires should wear down at the same rate and the tread on the tire should wear down in the center, the part that makes the greatest contact with the road. However, when the vehicle is not properly aligned, the tire may wear down in a strange pattern. They may wear down faster on the edge or on one side compared to the other side. Your car mechanic will be easily able to identify uneven tire wear during an inspection.
The steering feels unstable or loose
If your vehicle’s handling is loose, it could be due to poor wheel alignment. The steering wheel may feel wobbly and it may seem that the car is not going exactly straight and steers slightly to one side. You may need to make small corrections to ensure that the vehicle stays on track. When this happens, it is important to have the wheel alignment checked.
Another common sign of misalignment is squealing tires. If your tires are noisier than usual even at normal speed, it could be due to misalignment. Some amount of squealing is normal in certain situations, such as when you apply brakes suddenly. However, when you are driving at a normal speed the tires should not squeal.
Vibrating steering wheel
In case your steering wheel vibrates while driving, it can be a signal that the wheels are out of alignment. Sometimes, the wheels can become misaligned due to an impact such as hitting an obstruction on the road.
Benefits of getting a wheel alignment
If you notice any of the aforementioned signs in your car, you should take it to the mechanic for inspection and if required, alignment. A wheel alignment can offer a variety of benefits including:
- Improved fuel efficiency
- Smoother driving
- Better vehicle safety
- Increased lifespan of tires
- Prevents expensive repairs
Wheel alignment is not something that you can ignore. It is much more than a minor inconvenience. It can affect the vehicle’s handling and your ability to navigate sharp turns safely at high speed.
Need to get your vehicle’s alignment checked or schedule another vehicle maintenance service? Get in touch with our team now and let our expert mechanics inspect your vehicle and carry out necessary repairs.