All car owners should know how important a wheel alignment is to help their vehicle perform the way it was intended. You know you’re supposed to get an oil change and a transmission flush on a regular basis, but a wheel alignment can be just as vital to keeping your car on the road and out of the shop.
How Do Wheels Go Out of Alignment?
Even without driving into anything, your wheels will eventually go out of alignment from general use. Hitting a deep pothole, a curb or concrete parking stops can make push your wheels further out of alignment.
Can You Tell When Your Wheel Alignment Is Off?
Wheel alignment is measured in the smallest of fractions of an inch. If it’s off by only a little, you probably will not be able to tell. When the alignment is severely off, your car will pull to one side and the steering wheel may shake when you drive at a high speeds.
What Will Happen if You Ignore the Problem?
It doesn’t matter how slight — any alignment issue can cause damage to your tires. If you don’t get it corrected, you can expect to pay for new tires more frequently.
If the misalignment is severe and you ignore it, continuing to drive could damage the inner parts of the suspension, making it a more expensive issue. A vehicle’s suspension is made up of many delicate parts that are costly to replace once they are worn out, such as the shocks and struts.
How often Should You Get an Alignment?
Check your tires for wear. If the treads are wearing only on one side, you could have a wheel alignment issue. A general rule of thumb is to have the vehicle checked at every other oil change. If the mechanic thinks your tires and your car’s suspension would benefit, it’s worth it to spend the money for this service.
Depending on your mechanic, you may be able to pay for an alignment once and have it checked throughout the year for free.
You may be settling for a less-than-smooth ride if you don’t pay attention to wheel alignment, and a minor issue could result in suspension problems and tire repairs. If you suspect a problem, get it looked at by a professional.