How To Tell If You Need A Wheel Alignment
A wheel alignment is typically offered after you install new tires or each year as you change from your summer to winter tires and back. This is because changing your tires can affect the way your suspension is balanced and that affects how your tires make contact with the road. A wheel alignment can help your tires perform properly and help them last longer. It can also improve how your vehicle handles and keep it from pulling in one direction or making strange vibrations when you drive. Unlike some other vehicle maintenance tasks that you can do yourself, a wheel alignment requires the expertise of an experienced mechanic and an alignment machine. This requirement means that a maintenance bill comes with it, which can often leave people wondering if they truly need the service.
How To Tell If You Need a Wheel Alignment
A wheel alignment is recommended after you change the tires on your vehicle, but you may also want to bring it in for an alignment check if any of the following is happening:
Pulling in one direction: If your car pulls sharply in one direction, it may be because your tires are under-inflated. However, if it continues to pull to one side after you inflate your tires to the correct pressure, it’s a sign that you should get a wheel alignment. You may also experience a more slight pulling which also means your vehicle requires maintenance. To determine whether your vehicle is pulling, go to a vacant parking lot with a level surface. Drive your car slowly in a straight line and take your hands off the steering wheel. If you notice your car drifting to one side, then it’s in need of a tire alignment.
Vibration in the steering wheel: If your steering wheel is vibrating, it may be the result of unbalanced tires or misaligned wheels. In the case of misalignment, it occurs because the tires are pulling in opposite directions. You’ll want to have this addressed as soon as possible to avoid uneven wearing.
Crooked steering wheel: Pay attention to how your steering wheel sits without you moving it at all. If it’s crooked, you need your wheels aligned. You may be compensating for the crookedness by driving the wheel off centred so be sure to check when the vehicle is not in motion.
Uneven tire wear: Check your front and rear tires to see if they have the same wear patterns. If the wear patterns are different or one side of the tire appears to be wearing faster than the other, it may be an indication that your wheels aren’t properly aligned.
Why Is a Wheel Alignment Important?
As we mentioned earlier, proper alignment keeps your tires hitting the ground in an even manner which means your tires will wear evenly and slower than if they are misaligned. Misaligned wheels also affect the handling capabilities of your vehicle, which is especially important in winter and any type of inclement weather. Your rims and suspension can also have added wear and poorly aligned tires also make blowouts more likely which can lead to safety concerns and potentially a large towing bill.
How Often Should You Get a Wheel Alignment?
A wheel alignment is typically recommended after the first 1-2 years of driving a new vehicle and every 2-3 years after that. If you’re changing your tires twice per year and having them aligned then, you will not need to do any other additional alignment maintenance.
Keeping your wheels well aligned can save you from having to replace your tires more quickly and ensure your vehicle drives straight. You’ll feel safer and have better handling as well.
Stop by one of our Ford Service bays today or call to make an appointment for a wheel alignment if you’re experiencing any signs of misalignment.