Wheel alignment consists of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. The alignment is not of the wheels actually but rather of the car’s suspension, which indirectly affects the wheel angles. After much hard work and day to day use, the suspension components are usually stretched, causing your wheels to sit at improper angles. An alignment brings together the car’s suspension by positioning and adjusting the components so that the wheels are aligned with one and another.
Misaligned wheels directly results in uneven tyre wear and can depreciate the life of the tyres faster than they were originally designed to run. This also affects in reduced fuel efficiency, due to the uneven tyres. You also don’t gain proper traction from the tyres on the road, which results in poor drive quality. You should get the wheel alignment checked, if any of the following issues come up.
When to check the alignment
1. Uneven tyre wear
Make it a practice to check the tread of your tyres at regular intervals. This is especially for those with cars four years old. Tyres begin to bald by losing their treads. You need to check if there is uneven tread wear on the tyres that could be a result of a misalignment. Check if the tread is deeper on one side than the other, it represents a misaligned wheel. You need to get the alignment checked as soon as possible in such conditions.
2. After impact or collision
You happen to have a minor collision at an intersection or into a wall, even though you may think that the damage is just cosmetic with scrapes and bruises, there could be a misaligned wheel that would have not caught your attention. This is also possible because of driving too fast on rough roads. Sometimes a minor push is all it takes to create the impact and can seriously hurt your fuel economy and tyre life.
3. Vibrating steering
A vibrating steering could be a result of uneven wear on tyres. At this point, it is pretty evident that the tyres are beyond salvation and have to be replaced. This concludes to replacing the tyres and getting the wheels aligned at the earliest.
4. The car drifts to the side
If it takes effort to keep the car in a straight line, it is a sign of a misaligned wheel. The car gets pulled to the either side of the road when you leave the steering wheel, you need to have its wheels aligned immediately. Even if the spokes of the steering wheel are not in line when the car is travelling straight shows misalignment.
Wheel alignment is a fairly simple process and should be carried out at an authorized centre only. Suspension components may also have to be replaced before aligning the wheels. This implies especially for the older cars. If you plan to make a long trip on your car, it is better to have your wheels checked for alignment while you have the car serviced. Constant driving at high speeds can wear the tyres faster and will result in faster degradation of components and fuel on the car.
You will notice a vast improvement in your vehicle’s handling after having it aligned. It is important that you have your wheels aligned every year or at 10,000 kms, depending on what the manufacturer recommends for your car.