You may have seen our previous post about general wheel alignment issues. Now, let's take a deep dive into the 7 signs that you might really need an alignment check, pronto!
- When your vehicle pulls left or right
- When your tires are wearing out unevenly or too quickly
- After you hit a pothole or drive on uneven roads
- When replacing suspension or steering parts
- When getting new tires to ensure they wear properly
- When your steering wheel isn’t centered while going straight down the road
- It has been longer than one year since it was last checked
When your vehicle pulls left or right
What is normal for pull vs. what is not normal? Even a brand new vehicle could have some pull. Keep in mind that most roads have "crown". Roads are designed to allow water to run off of them. If your pull is aggressive, meaning you need to hold your steering wheel straight in order to go straight, then you probably have alignment issues.
When your tires are wearing unevenly or too quickly
When you go into the shop and have to get 4 new tires, you will typically spend anywhere from $500.00 to $1,000.00. I think I speak for everyone when I say I would like my tires to last as long as possible! Why replace them every year or two when I know I can get at least 5 years out of them? Of course it all depends on the amount of miles you drive each year. An alignment will ensure all 4 tires are wearing normally, as long as the tire pressure is where it's supposed to be.
After you hit a pothole or drive on uneven roads
Potholes are the worst! Some states have more than others and being a shop with locations in Minnesota, we have two seasons, summer and pothole repair season (or road construction season). Our cars take a beating and one quick dip into a pothole can take your car from happy and straight to grumpy and out of alignment. The tricky thing is that you may not always feel a difference. If your family is heading out of town and driving on dirt roads or roads that are not well kept, will also contribute to taking your vehicle out of alignment.
When replacing suspension or steering parts
If you have to replace your struts, inner or outer tie rod ends, or other alignable components, you must also have an alignment completed in order for all the wheels to point in the proper direction. Sometimes you may want to raise or lower your vehicle by inserting a lift kit or lowering kit, it is always a "must-do" to have an alignment performed at that time. Notice the broken coil spring on this rear strut assembly (pictured above).
When Purchasing new tires to ensure they wear properly
This comes into play when you are purchasing a set of tires. Protect your investment. Example: You purchase 4 new tires and drive on them for 10,000 miles. At that time you have your vehicle in for an oil change and tire rotation and the technician finds that the tread is unevenly worn. You would now agree that those tires you purchased 10,000 miles ago should last way longer and not have worn unevenly. It is a no-good situation and although there may be a way to help reverse the uneven wear, it is difficult to do and may not even work. In short, ask for a wheel alignment at the time of your next tire purchase.
When your steering wheel isn’t centered while going straight down the road
There are a couple scenarios to talk about here: The first one being when you feel like you have to hold the steering wheel straight in order to keep the car on the road. The second one being when the car drives straight, but the steering wheel is crooked (or off center). A simple adjustment can be done while performing an alignment that allows the steering wheel to become straight (or on center).
It has been longer than one year since it was Last Checked
Simply put, your alignment can get out of whack by hitting a pothole or even just slowly over time. A rule of thumb is to have your alignment checked once per year in order to keep all your alignment angles within specification and your tires rotating in optimal performance.
Check out our other article on wheel alignments below!