Ever feel your car drifting to one side of the road while you’re driving? Or wonder why your tires aren’t wearing evenly? There’s a pretty good chance your wheels are out of alignment. It’s a very common, fixable problem. But it does need to be fixed — and sooner rather than later.
When your wheels are in alignment, they are all pointing in the right direction and in line with each other. This makes your car ride smoothly and puts each tire in maximum contact with the road, which improves safety. People often get wheel alignment and tire balance confused. A wheel alignment is an adjustment to the angles of your wheels while a tire balance fixes the weight balance of your tire and wheel assembly.
There are three ways your tires need to be aligned. These include:
Caster – If you’re looking at your car from the side, caster refers to where your car’s steering axis is compared to the vertical axis. Forward or behind vertical is out of alignment.
Camber — If you’re looking at your car from the front, this is how the tires tilt in or away from each other. If they are tilted in or away (which means they're out of alignment), one edge of the tires can be out of contact with the road.
Toe — If you’re looking from the top of the car, this is how the tires point toward – or away from – each other. Think of the term, “pigeon-toed,” which refers to toes turning toward each other. Now apply that to your tires!
As mentioned before, if your wheels are poorly aligned, your car can pull or drift off the road, which obviously is not safe. Misaligned wheels can cause your tires to wear out faster, leading to reduced traction and even blowouts. Poorly aligned wheels can also reduce your gas mileage and put stress on your vehicle’s steering equipment and structure.
There’s no set recommendation for how often to your wheels aligned, but you should have us check alignment after you’ve had a collision, hit a pothole, and after any work on the suspension system. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, you should have your alignment checked:
Loose or difficult steering — This can feel like your tires aren’t responding properly to your steering. You might need to oversteer to get the right response — which is never a good sign.
Pulling or drifting in one direction while driving — You’ll feel as if you have to turn the wheel in the opposite direction to correct the drift or pull, especially on a flat, straight road.
Uneven tire wear — When you look at your tires, you can see the treads are not wearing the same. Measuring the tread depth on your tires — they should all be close to the same — can help you determine if you have an alignment problem.
Vibration in steering wheel — A vibrating steering wheel is often a telltale sign that your wheels are out of alignment — this can also indicate that your tires need balancing.
We provide comprehensive tire and wheel alignment services at many of our locations. Make an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you!
*Alignment services available at select locations. Contact your nearest store to be sure the service is offered.