Does your car need a wheel alignment? If you've experienced unusual handling in recent months, you might be asking yourself this question. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore the warning signs, only to discover bigger, more expensive problems with their car later down the road. You'll have a safer driving expensive while saving money in the process, however, by keeping your car's wheel properly aligned. So, how do you know if your car needs a wheel alignment?
Overview of Wheel Alignment Service
Before we reveal the signs that a car needs a wheel alignment, let's first discuss what this service is and how it works. Normally, a wheel alignment service involves tweaking the front- and rear-end to ensure that they are properly aligned with each other (hence the name). The mechanic will place your car on a specialized machine, known as an alignment rack, to read the alignment of your car's wheels. Using this information, the mechanic will adjust the camber, caster and toe angles as per the manufacturer's recommendations.
Uneven Tread Wear
One tell-tale sign that your wheels are misaligned is uneven tread wear. Your tires will inevitably lose tread over time. However, if the tread wear varies between your tires, it may indicate misaligned wheels. If you haven't done so already, inspect your tires' tread to see if they are even. If they aren't, you should take your car to a professional mechanic for a wheel alignment inspection.
Another common sign that your car needs a wheel alignment is pulling in one direction. In other words, your car automatically goes to the left or right when driving on a flat, even surface. When your wheels are misaligned, veering such as this will occur.
Steering Wheel Vibrations
A lesser-known warning sign of misaligned wheels is steering wheel vibrations. This is due to the fact that your tires are trying to pull in different directions. As they pull against each other, it creates vibrations in your car's steering column and, subsequently, the steering wheel.
Don't ignore the warning signs of misaligned wheels. While it may seem insignificant when compared to engine problems like a blown head gasket or cracked head, it can take a toll on your wallet. Your car will consume more gas, and your tires will wear more quickly. The combination of these effects can cost you hundreds of dollars. Thankfully, a simple solution is a wheel alignment service.