Routine maintenance is a crucial part of getting the best (and safest) performance from your vehicle. But sometimes it’s unclear why certain maintenance services are necessary. Wheel alignment is one of those services! Learn why your car needs wheel alignment as part of its regular maintenance schedule and what could happen if you put off this service.
What is wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment has to do with your car's suspension—the intricate system that attaches the body of the vehicle to its wheels. As you can probably imagine, the suspension has a very important job.
In order for your car to drive its best, the suspension must be calibrated just so in order for the wheels to make contact with the road at the proper angle. When you get your vehicle’s wheels aligned, expert technicians ensure that the wheels are hitting the ground exactly as they should.
What are the benefits of proper wheel alignment?
When your wheels are aligned, there is less stress on your suspension and decreased wear and tear on your tires.
Your overall driving experience is smoother and you could also benefit from increased fuel efficiency.
Most importantly, properly aligned wheels are much safer than misaligned wheels.
What happens if I don’t get my wheels aligned?
There are a few things you may experience if your wheels are misaligned. First, you’ll likely notice poor handling from the car pulling in one direction, or even the steering wheel shaking in your hands. While this is never a good thing, poor handling can be downright dangerous, especially in rain or snow.
Adverse weather conditions tend to make the road extra slick, which decreases your car’s braking ability and increases your chances of hydroplaning. Coupled with the poor vehicle handling of misaligned wheels, such conditions can make it harder to stay in control of your vehicle and steer clear of accidents, pedestrians, and road hazards.
Skip out on regular wheel alignments and you could also notice that your tires are wearing rapidly or unevenly, which means they won’t hold up as long as they should. And if you hit a pothole or a curb, the overall impact will feel more jarring than if your wheels were properly aligned.
Think of it this way: Have you ever struggled to push a rickety cart down the grocery aisle? That's how your car feels when you drive on misaligned tires!
How can I tell if my wheels are misaligned?
There are a few different ways to tell if your wheels aren’t properly aligned while you’re driving. One of the most obvious (and annoying!) signs is a car that drifts to one side of the road, even when your steering wheel is pointed straight. In general, your steering wheel may just feel different than it usually does, from feeling shaky to feeling loose.
Aside from showing uneven tread wear, your tires may also start to squeal. Most drivers know their car like the back of their hand, and these small changes in handling can signal that it’s time for an alignment.
Unsure if your car needs an alignment? Most cars could benefit from a wheel alignment at least once a year. Get your wheel alignment checked for free at your local Tires Plus. We’ll start with a courtesy check and a conversation. You’ll get the service recommendations your car needs—no strings attached!