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Why You Should Have An Alignment Done

Thursday, 18 March, 2021

For the budget-conscious among us, it's understandable to raise a speculative eyebrow when advised to service a seemingly well-functioning vehicle.

Moreover, scheduling the time to get something like a tire alignment done – at first glance – might seem like an inconvenience. We’re all busy with work and family life. Making room in your day for a non-critical appointment for your vehicle might not initially make its way onto your priorities list.

But we’re here to change your perspective on this matter.

The truth is that getting your tires aligned will provide an array of long-term economic advantages. For instance, you'll benefit from superior gas mileage and longer tire life, primarily due to the increased smoothness of your ride and proper road contact. These plusses all result from your wheels being adjusted to their original specs.

Let’s explore the nature of tire alignment a little bit further:

Lee's Summit Subaru Lees Summit MO

What Happens When You Don’t Realign Your Tires?

Without going to your mechanic for an alignment, it leads to a bumpy ride that puts unnecessary wear on your tires. In failing to be proactive on this front, you’re likely to take a chunk out of your wheels’ lifespan.

Tires are affordable—but there’s no need to spend unnecessarily on replacements when it could have been prevented. Beyond that, getting a new set of tires installed will cost you more time when an alignment is far more seamless and painless.

Really, it’s only a matter of scheduling a small chunk of time with your mechanic or technician, and you’ll extract the most value from your tires.

Safety should be your main reason to schedule this type of service. Poor tire alignment has the potential to cause your steering wheel to pull more in one direction. Such a scenario is hazardous when you're driving in the rain and your vehicle hydroplanes—because you'll lose traction with the pavement. And since the wheels aren't correctly aligned, you might drift out of your lane.

Lastly, poor alignment makes for a less comfortable driving experience. It often causes the wheel to shake and vibrate, impacting your steadiness and confidence on the road.

When is it Time to Get Your Tires Aligned?

Below is a list of 7 reasons when you’ll benefit most from a tire alignment:

  1. You've Purchased New Tires. Failing to get an alignment once you've purchased new tires means you're stifling your tires right out the gate. You leave yourself open to rough driving nearly immediately, meaning you aren't getting the most from your tires.
  2. You Travel Rough Roads. Do you regularly travel on bumpy and rugged terrains? Then regular alignment checks are absolutely critical to your tire’s lifespan and functionality. Without getting your wheels checked, the incorrect toe angle won’t be detected. The same goes for atypical tire wear. Alignment becomes an issue for your vehicle over time. It's not immediate. So, rough handling, uneconomic gas usage, and tire-wear all might seem normal when you aren’t being eternally vigilant. Bringing your car in for checks will ensure these issues don't arise when you ride rough roads.
  3. Your Vehicle is Pulling to One Side The moment you realize that your vehicle is veering toward one side, it typically means its tires are misaligned. This notion extends to any unusual tire wear or when your steering wheel is no longer centered despite your car pointing straight. It’s worth noting these issues might not exist because of misalignment, but it’s always worth investigating.
  4. You've Recently Had a Fender Bender or Other Hard Impact. When you've experienced a mild collision with another vehicle, or you've impacted a curb/road debris, it's time for an alignment. Some people think their car doesn't need any work if there's no visible damage. Still, misalignment is a common problem after fender benders.
  5. It’s Been One Year Since Your Most Recent Tire Alignment. Regardless of the terrain you drive, it's best practice to receive a tire alignment once per year. Some owner’s manuals might suggest more than just a yearly alignment—so double-check to see what’s recommended.
  6. You Lower or Lift Your Vehicle. When lifting or lowering a vehicle, it impacts your toe, camber, or caster angles. The same notion extends to repairing or replacing any suspension and steering parts (i.e., struts, shocks, ball joints, tie rods, bushings, control arms). The chances that your vehicle’s tire alignment is out of spec drastically increases when the above components are damaged. Fixing these parts before an alignment is an absolute must.
  7. Your Tires Are Atypically Worn. Problems with camber adjustments are often signified by wear on the inside or outside edges of your tire. Toe adjustment problems might be an issue if there are symptoms such as feathering or scalloping of your tires. Any of this wear is often a sign of poor alignment. Upon noticing the above issues, it's time to schedule time with your mechanic.

What Should You Know Before Scheduling an Alignment?

Unfortunately, you can’t necessarily rely on your vision to decipher whether your vehicle's tires are misaligned. The measurements are pinpoint—minuscule shifts can make all the difference with your wheels and tire angles.

An experienced tire technician will provide the necessary expertise on this matter, letting you know when it's time to schedule an alignment. In fact, they need one look at your tires' wear to tell you what's required.

With that said, once you've been advised to schedule an alignment service, there are a few things you should know:

First and foremost, any damaged suspension parts should be replaced before the service. Sub-optimal and worn parts will misalign your tires immediately after your car receives an alignment. Thus, rendering the service pointless.

Something else to consider is that your technician might suggest a thrust alignment or a four-wheel alignment. Be sure to ask questions and perform your own research on the nuances of this issue.

Lastly, ask for a printout displaying your alignment measurements before the work was done. And ask for a printout of what the final settings were. This way, you’ll know for sure whether the job was essential.

With all this information, you have the required knowledge-base to figure out whether it’s time for a tire alignment.