If you struggle to keep your car straight, it may be a sign of bad wheel alignment. A misaligned wheel can cause the vehicle to veer in one direction on a flat road. To check, let go of the steering wheel on an empty road and see if the car drifts to the left or right.
Tires have a lifespan, but bad wheel alignment can cause uneven wear. Cupping on the outside edges of the front tires may indicate lack of tire rotation, while excessive wear on both the outside and inside edges can be a sign of misaligned wheels.
Loose or unsteady wheels can be risky while driving, especially on busy streets or curved roads. Suspension components could be a problem, but bad wheel alignment is often the culprit. Hard steering can also be a result of misaligned wheels.
Wheel alignment issues can cause vibrations in the steering wheel, especially if the wheels are off balance. This can happen after hitting a pothole or bump that knocks the wheels out of position. However, other serious problems such as warped brake rotors, damaged suspension components, or misaligned tires can also cause vibrations.
Displaced wheels due to bad alignment can create strange noises such as creaking, knocking, or squeaking underneath the vehicle. While suspension and loose/damaged components can also cause these noises, bad wheel alignment could be a potential cause.
Cars need proper wheel alignment for a balanced ride, longer tire life, and improved mileage. But what is wheel alignment, anyway?
Wheel alignment technically means the adjustment of the suspension components holding the wheels, not the adjustment of the wheels/tires themselves. That said, there are a few easy ways to tell when your car has misaligned wheels. Keep in mind that this article focuses on the front wheels.
First, examine your tires if they have uneven wearing on the treads. From there, observe these signs when driving: an off-centre steering wheel direction when driving on a straight path, unusual steering wheel vibration, and the vehicle pulling over to one side. You should also keep an eye out for a sudden inefficiency in fuel economy. When you notice these signs, take your car to the nearest service shop and have it checked.
But before you do, it’s best to educate yourself with at least the basics of wheel alignment. That way, you’ll be able to promote service trust and avoid potential fraud. Here are some of the things to know and discuss with your professional mechanic.
Excess weight in the trunk can lower the vehicle height and affect alignment. Removing unnecessary items and having the alignment checked afterwards can help improve alignment.
Balanced air pressure in all four tires is important as it affects the height of the four points of the undercarriage that connect to the wheels. Low air pressure in one or more tires can result in uneven chassis height and affect alignment.