5 Signs Your Car Needs An Alignment

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With all the advances in vehicle technology and performance, it can be difficult to keep up with all the required maintenance and repairs. Proper wheel alignment is one of the most important criterion to keeping your car driving safely and happily. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked. Many people deal with the signs and symptoms of poor wheel alignment, often unaware that it’s an easy fix. Check out this image showing the most common reasons for an alignment service or continue reading for more details on five common signs your vehicle is in need of an alignment.

1. Your steering wheel is not centered

Hands on steering wheel

If you’re driving straight down a flat, level road, your steering wheel should be sitting close to perfectly straight. There’s usually a small amount of discrepancy allowed depending on the crown of the road, but overall the wheel should be sitting centered and straight, and your vehicle emblem in the center of the steering wheel should appear level to you. If the wheel is off center by more than a few degrees in either direction, it’s time to have an alignment performed. This will return your steering wheel to center, and may improve the overall drivability as well.

2. Your vehicle pulls to one side or the other

Similar to the first point, vehicle pull is most easily noticed while driving straight down a level road. There is a common misconception that the vehicle should drive perfectly straight with your hands off the steering wheel. In a perfect world, this would be true, but in reality this isn’t the case because all roads have some degree of crowning which causes a slight pull to one side. Completely removing your hands from the steering wheel is also very dangerous. Instead, the vehicle should drive straight ahead with very little effort on the steering wheel. If your car pulls to one side or the other, it’s time to have your alignment checked and corrected, which usually corrects the vehicle pull and improves overall drivability.

3. You notice abnormal tire wear in certain spots

Tire wear chart

Tire wear patterns can provide a lot of useful information about the condition of a car. A qualified technician can use tire wear patterns to make educated guesses about tire pressures, suspension condition, and alignment problems. Wear on only the inside or outside edges of tires can indicate a problem with the camber adjustment. Feathering or scalloping of the tires often indicates a problem with the toe adjustment. Tire wear is most often noticed by a mechanic while performing a tire rotation or an inspection performed during a service. Proper alignment greatly increases the life of your tires, so if you have any abnormal tire wear patterns, you should have an alignment performed on your vehicle.

4. The handling feels loose when driving

Car driving

If the steering in your car feels a little loose or unstable, one of the possible causes is poor wheel alignment. This can be felt as wandering across the road when driving, or the car may feel very loose and sloppy around corners. If you notice symptoms like this, you should have the alignment checked and corrected if necessary.

5. Your steering wheel doesn’t return to center

Both hands on steering wheel

After completing a turn, the steering wheel should naturally start to return to center on it’s own as you keep driving. Of course you need to keep your hands on the wheel to help it achieve this quicker and keep control of the car, but if your steering wheel doesn’t even attempt to move itself back to center, then it’s a good indication that your alignment is off. Have an alignment check done, and a full alignment performed if necessary.

Incorrect wheel alignment can create a host of drivability and premature wear problems, so it’s best to get the vehicle inspected as soon as it’s noticed. Even if it’s not a safety issue for your vehicle, the money saved by not prematurely wearing your tires will often exceed the cost of the alignment itself. Any time the alignment is checked, all the steering and suspension components should be checked as well, since worn components are a common cause of alignment going out of specification. After having the suspension checked and an alignment performed, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how nice the car drives.


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Robert

11 years of experience
62 reviews
Robert
11 years of experience
Infiniti FX35 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Springfield, Virginia
Early arrival....great work....Thank you so much for your services...will be using and recommend you for sure to family n friends!!!! God bless you
Honda Odyssey - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Derwood, Maryland
Showed up on time (actually early!l Answered any questions I had. Completed service quicker than expected! Even helped with tire that had a slow leak.

Augustine

11 years of experience
37 reviews
Augustine
11 years of experience
Hyundai Accent - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Albuquerque, New Mexico
I had an appointment to have brakes/rotors done. Augustine is a very nice guy. Personable and polite! He came 30 minutes early for the appointment, and asked me if he could come early before he came. Top quality, will use him again for rear brakes/rotors in a few weeks.
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Augustine was amazing. He was the perfect example of customer service all around. While he was working, I was recommending him to my neighbors. Next time I need work, I will be requesting Augustine specifically!!!!! Please give him a raise or bonus!!!

Chris

21 years of experience
1786 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Mission Viejo, California
Chris is outstanding in all aspects. We always select him to service our vehicles. He's always prompt, friendly, and more importantly HE KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING! Thanks Chris!
Lexus SC430 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Laguna Niguel, California
Chris's delivered excellent service and arrived ahead of schedule. I would want to book Chriss for my next service appointment.

Christopher

9 years of experience
20 reviews
Christopher
9 years of experience
Kia Rondo - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Houston, Texas
Christopher is very knowledgeable about diagnosing the problem, repairing it, and discussing why it is important to fix it. I appreciate him letting me know what future maintenance is necessary. Christopher is very professional while having the ability to making the customer feel at ease. I am satisfied with his work.

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