Many new and veteran car owners sometimes are skeptical about wheel alignments and simply just don’t see the point of them. However, most of the confusion with a wheel alignment comes by not understanding what it is. To add to this confusion, a wheel alignment is not listed as a regular maintenance item in most owner’s manuals. Yet wheel alignments are very important. Particularly, a wheel alignment is more than pointing the tires straight. In fact, it is looking at angles and adjusting them to make sure the car or truck tracks the best on the road, according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Camber, caster, toe, and the thrust angle all play a crucial role in how your car drives and how straight it drives on roads.
How Often Should You Check for a Wheel Alignment?
#1 When Your Car Shows Symptoms. There are some common symptoms you can identify when your car needs a wheel alignment. Whenever you feel your steering wheel being crocked, this means that you probably need a wheel alignment. Likewise, whenever you feel your steering wheel pulling to one side when the vehicle is going straight, this is an obvious sign that you need a wheel alignment. Additional Signs Include:
Pulling to the left
Uneven or rapid tire wear
#2 When You Hit a Pothole or Are in An Accident. Alignment problems are frequently caused by hitting a curb or a pothole. Likewise, a vehicle that has been in any sort of accident may need a wheel alignment. This is especially true if the car accident was in the front.
#3 When You Get New Tires. Additionally, you should get a wheel alignment whenever one or more of your tires are replaced. Notably, a misaligned suspension will definitely shorten the life of your tires. If the wheels on your car aren’t pointed in the right direction, the tires will be exposed to undue stress that will accelerate its useful life.
#4 At Least Once a Year. Additionally, get a check every year, or twice annually, if you typically take trips or drive on harsh roadways. Routine checks are necessary because wheel alignment issues aren’t always apparent. In general, cars go out of alignment slowly, so you may not understand how much it was affecting drivability, gas mileage, or tire wear until it’s remedied.
With that being said, yes, you need a wheel alignment at one point or another during your car’s lifetime! While inspecting existing tire wear is one method to determine wheel misalignment, It’s better to have your car aligned each year to help capture and correct any misalignment concerns before you experience early and unnecessary tire wear. Wheel alignments belong to fundamental maintenance requirements for your vehicle that helps your car get full gas mileage out of your tires.