The Wheel Alignment on your car can be affected by many factors, including road conditions, weather, driving style, and the number of miles you drive. Driving off-road, hitting potholes, bumping curbs, and speeding over those speed bumps are common causes for knocking your wheels out of alignment. Not to worry! There are also common signs that your vehicle may need a wheel alignment. These signs may include uneven tire wear, your car drifts or pulls to one side when driving straight, and/or your steering wheel vibrates when driving at higher speeds.
Thankfully, car manufacturers recommend specific time frames for Wheel Alignment service under normal driving conditions. So, check your owner’s manual to find out your car’s suggested maintenance schedule. Then, factor in your driving style, mileage, and road conditions to fine-tune your specific maintenance schedule. If you are unsure, a qualified auto shop can help you determine the perfect schedule for Wheel Alignment Service on your car.
What is Wheel Alignment?
Simply put, correct Wheel Alignment means that the angles of the wheels are adjusted to be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. This allows your wheels to work in concert and respond accurately to the steering wheel.
A service technician puts your car on a special rack designed for wheel alignment. Next, sensitive sensors are attached to the wheels to figure out their exact positional locations. Then, that information is fed into a computer program that tells the technician how to adjust the wheel to correct its alignment.
Types of Wheel Alignment
- Four-Wheel Alignment: Most common service involves the adjustment of all four wheels.
- Two-Wheel or Front-Wheel Alignment: Most simple form of alignment service involves adjusting just the front wheels.
- Thrust or Rear-Wheel Alignment: This alignment service involves adjusting just the rear wheels.
Wheel Alignment Angles
- Camber: The direction of tilt of the top of the tire. Tire tilts towards the center of the car (negative), tire tilts away from the center of the car (positive), or no tilt (straight or zero).
- Castor: The direction of the front suspension in relation to the center point of the wheel.
- Toe: The most common adjustment deals with the forward-moving angle of the tires. Toe-in is where the tires point in towards the center of the car (think pigeon-toed). Toe-out is where the tires point out away from the center of the car (think duck waddle).
When Do I Need Wheel Alignment?
At the bare minimum, you should schedule a Wheel Alignment inspection at least once a year. Some car manufacturers recommend having a Wheel Alignment Service performed every six months. Always follow your owner’s manual recommendations for scheduling your Wheel Alignment Service. Of course, you may need to have a service before your normal routine maintenance due to road conditions, driving style, or an unexpected fender bender.
Common Symptoms & Safety Concerns
Be aware of how your car handles under normal circumstances. If your car feels like it’s handling differently, driving rougher, or feeling unsafe in any way, bring it in for a diagnostic service right away. Wondering if your car currently needs a wheel alignment? Check out these common symptoms of a misalignment.
Uneven Tire Wear
Proper tire maintenance can substantially prolong the life of your tires. Uneven tire wear or tread wear is a common sign of misalignment, and can easily be seen without diagnostic equipment. A few types of tread wear are:
- Shoulder Wear – one side of the tire tread is worn down more than the other side.
- Feathered Wear – the rows of tread along the tire are worn on angles creating points or peaks.
- Cupped Wear – there are excessively worn (or bald) patches among less worn parts of the tread.
Car Pulling, Drifting, or Vibrating Steering Wheel
Is your steering wheel turned slightly, either to the right or left, when driving straight? Are you constantly adjusting your steering wheel because your car feels like it’s drifting or pulling to one side? Does your steering wheel seem to vibrate as you increase your speed? Then you should schedule a wheel alignment service.
Poor Gas Mileage
You may also notice a decrease in gas mileage. When your wheels are misaligned, your tires are working against each other and/or the road surface. Consequently, your car engine has to put out far more effort to get where you’re going.
Excessive Steering & Suspension Wear
Misalignment can cause a detrimental domino effect on other components in your car. Steering and Suspension components can experience excessive wear over time if you miss your routine Wheel Alignment Service. This excessive wear can create expensive repairs or replacements of prematurely worn parts.
Where Do I Get Wheel Alignment Service?
If you notice any of the above symptoms, bring your car in for a diagnostic service. A qualified technician can determine if a Wheel Alignment Service is needed to keep your vehicle operating efficiently and safely.
ZahnTech Import Automotive provides honest and reliable auto repairs in Redmond WA. Our team of certified ASE technicians is ready to help diagnose and address any issues with your car’s Wheel Alignment. We use the latest equipment & our extensive knowledge, to get your car fixed right the first time
Schedule a Service
ZahnTech Import Automotive proudly delivers the best automotive repair experience in Redmond WA. Give us a call at (425) 861-8060 or visit us online to schedule an appointment for your Wheel Alignment Service today.