For most people, a wheel alignment is just another issue that comes with owning a car. While it is true that wheel misalignment can happen naturally over a period of time, it is more likely that there is a specific reason behind your bad alignment, such as poor road conditions with many potholes or even just bumped a curb while driving in the parking lot.
When your tires are out of alignment, it essentially means that they are not pointing in the right direction. You may notice that your car is pulling to one side or vibrating as the wheels pull against each other. You may even notice your steering wheel is a bit crooked even though you are driving straight. All of these factors can negatively impact your steering, suspension, and tires, but more importantly, it compromises your safety on the road. That’s never a good thing.
Wheel or tire alignment ensures that your tires function at their optimal potential and hinders premature wear. However, driving every day can make maintaining your vehicle’s tire alignment a bit difficult. Poor driving behavior, environmental, and other factors can result in your car becoming misaligned. Luckily, having an alignment performed often, while also increasing the longevity of your tires, helps your car attain better fuel economy, averts costly suspension repairs later on, and makes for a smoother ride. You need to know the most common reasons that can contribute to poor wheel alignment and the possible symptoms that indicate an alignment check is due.
What is Wheel Alignment?
Alignment is associated with the adjustment of the system that joins the wheels to the car, also referred to as the suspension. Alignment is just adjusting the angles of the suspension for more optimal tire contact with the street. The suspension system is needed to make sure all four tires are working in cooperation at the same speed and direction. Cars become misaligned when any of the network of components in the system deviates and falls out of place. Usually, components move due to roadway conditions or worn parts.
Why Is My Car Out of Alignment?
Misalignment can be the result of actions made by the driver, conditions on the road, or even worn components in the car. Here are the top three reasons your car may fall out of alignment:
- Abrupt disturbance or shock caused by hitting something, like a pothole, bumping into a curb, going too fast over a speed bump, or a car accident
- Suspension components, including poor shocks or struts, grow worn or loose and impact your vehicle’s alignment
- Car modifications such as lifting or dropping your car. The suspension is meant to work within a certain height determined by the vehicle manufacturer. If the height of the car is modified, the suspension has to be adjusted as well; otherwise, you risk misaligning your vehicle.
Though the size of some bumps on the road may not be too significant, if these obstacles are struck with enough force, it could be just enough to impact your vehicle’s alignment. The larger the impact, the greater chances there are that your vehicle’s alignment will be thrown out of place. Due to the fact that metal used in the suspension flexes easily, after some time, contact with curbs and potholes can change the shape and angles, forcing the alignment out of place. Sadly, certain roadway conditions are erratic and not all collisions can be prevented. However, you can take some key steps to prevent misalignment by making safe decisions while behind the wheel.
Alignment Starts with Tire Maintenance
Checking your car’s tire pressure regularly and tuning them to the advised pounds per square inch (PSI), as prescribed by the manufacturer of your vehicle, is a fantastic way to prevent any issues with your alignment or to keep the car from pulling to one side. Have a front-end alignment performed if your tire treads are wearing unevenly, you have recently bought new tires, or if your car experiences any kind of bad alignment symptoms listed here:
- A bumpy ride, even on smooth surfaces
- Uneven tire tread
- Car pulling to one side, either the right or left
- Shaky steering wheel
- Fighting the steering wheel to stay straight
- Car tracks grooves in the road
Why Is Wheel Alignment Important?
If your car does not have proper alignment, you are at risk of prematurely wearing out your tires and creating some potentially hazardous driving risks. When cars fall out of alignment, the tires wear unevenly. Tires will even start to change in appearance and look rougher or torn. Poor tire tread impacts your vehicle’s ability to stop, especially in inclement weather. If your tires seem abnormal, you should not hesitate to take your car to a service center for inspection. While car manufacturers do not have a set time frame for when you should have a realignment, you should go with your gut. If your car travels in a straight line, your car is probably aligned properly, but it is advised that you have your alignment checked regularly, like at every oil change. Alignment also needs to be performed each time you have purchased and mounted new tires.
Many measurements and movements are used to establish the exact position of your car’s alignment. Each car has its own advised set of specifications that have to be maintained properly. At Auto Repair Shop San Diego, we utilize top of the line alignment machines to guarantee your car meets these specifications.
San Diego Auto Repair Shop
Automobile Repair Shop San Diego is a family-owned and operated business that has been providing the best repair experience. We will offer you hassle-free auto repairs starting with a precise damage assessment or estimate. We will tow your vehicle for FREE to our shop, organize for a rental car, and work directly with the insurance company to streamline the repair process. We will even pay up to $500 of your deductible. Contact us today to see how we can help.