Symptoms of a bad alignment include steering vibration, crooked steering, vehicle drifting to one side, vehicle wandering, and difficulties bringing the steering wheel to the center.
Ensuring vehicle’s safety is one of the most important courses of action any driver should take. Dealing with improper vehicle alignment, as an example of safety issues, can be very challenging and might result in catastrophic outcomes if not taken care of immediately.
Vehicle alignment refers to correcting the directions and angles of the wheel to reduce friction and prevent premature uneven tire wear. With proper alignment, you don't only ensure your vehicle safety, but also you extend the vehicle's lifetime and enhance its overall gas mileage.
This article provides you with an in-depth review of all potential symptoms that you can keep an eye and ear to detect when is the right time for your vehicle's alignment.
Why is it important to have proper alignment?
It is important for your vehicle to be as precise as possible to ensure safety and function as specified by the manufacturer.
One of the easiest things that your people can get wrong is improper alignment. Alignment can go wrong due to many reasons varying from your driving habits, road conditions, hitting any larger bumps, and minor to major car accidents.
Proper alignment means correcting your vehicle's direction and wheel angles according to what was specified by the manufacturer.
When your vehicle is improperly aligned, you will deal with multiple problems Affecting the overall performance and introducing major damages in some scenarios. For example, if your vehicle is not aligned, you will notice a significant reduction in your vehicle's overall gas mileage.
The purpose of the alignment is to ensure proper contact between the tires and the road, and as the tires touched the roads, a lot of friction is generated. Without proper alignment, this friction can increase significantly, causing your engine to work harder to produce more power, resulting in more gas.
Also, when the vehicle is improperly aligned, it can't affect your overall safety because you won't control the vehicle properly. In some scenarios, the vehicle might fall into one side, which can be dangerous, especially if you're driving on the highway.
Lastly, alignment is important to extend the lifetime of your vehicle, especially when it comes to the drivetrain and the suspension system. If the vehicle is not aligned properly, you will notice some premature and uneven tire wear. This is because the vehicle will be leaning into one side more than the other, causing additional stress on that side, resulting in reducing its lifetime.
What are the symptoms of that alignment?
Since it's crucial to have proper alignment all the time, as we indicated in previous sections, as a driver, you need to keep an eye for any symptoms indicating that your vehicle is due for an alignment:
Crooked steering wheel
One of the most obvious symptoms indicating an issue with your vehicle's alignment is crooked or off-center steering wheels.
The steering wheel is supposed to be in the center under normal circumstances. However, when your vehicle experiences issues with its alignments, the steering wheel might change its position by a couple of degrees in one or both directions.
A crooked steering wheel can affect your vehicle's overall performance, and it might prevent you from handling your drive, which causes risks of crashes.
Your vehicle will drift to one side more than the other
Another critical symptom indicating that your vehicle is due for an alignment is when the car drifts to one side. As we indicated before, improper alignment might damage some of the tires more than the others. Thus, your vehicle will continuously lean on to one side, causing it to drift to one side more than the other.
Uneven tire wear
One of the easiest checks you can do to determine whether your vehicle needs alignment is by looking at the tires. As we already mentioned, the tires should not wear unevenly, and the tread depth should be the same in all tires.
If you realize that the tread depth is significantly different on one side, this indicates a problem with the vehicle's alignment.
Your car won't drive straight
Due to their previously mentioned issues, you will notice that your vehicle will wander down the road, and it won't be driving straight.
It is important to get your vehicle inspected and align properly by a professional mechanic immediately to prevent putting life and the passenger’s life at risk of crashes, especially if you're driving on the highways.
Difficulties bringing the steering wheel to the center
Under normal circumstances, your steering wheel should return to the center once you complete a turn. However, when the alignment is not correct, assume will fail to return to the center, which is the convention.
Although some drivers might keep an eye and ensure bringing the steering wheel to the center every time they perform a turn, it is not considered a permanent solution. They must bring their vehicle to the nearest repair shop as soon as possible and permanently resolve the problem.
Another obvious symptom telling you that it's time to perform a vehicle alignment is a vibrating steering wheel. Keep in mind that a vibrating steering wheel might be an indication of a different problem; therefore, your best course of action is to take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and have a professional mechanic inspected to pinpoint the real culprit.
How often should you perform vehicle alignment?
According to an automotive expert’s color wheel alignment should be performed once every two or three years. Keep in mind that this time frame might differ significantly depending on your vehicle's brand.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to follow your vehicle's owner manual and check for the frequency of vehicle alignment that you need to follow.
Another thing to consider is that the frequency of wheel alignment also depends on your own circumstances. For instance, if your vehicle was recently involved in a car accident, you need to check the alignment to confirm that it's still correct.
Another thing but might also affect your vehicle's alignment is any weird bumps in the roads that you might hit suddenly without being prepared, affecting your vehicle's alignment.
What we recommend here is that once you notice any symptom of a bad wheel alignment, you should take your vehicle immediately to the nearest repair shop and perform the alignment. We all understand that expensive you sometimes get the alignment corrected, but it's not compatible with what might happen if the suspension system or any other major components gets affected.
Of course, nothing is worse than putting your life at the risk of crashes just because you will be postponed checking your vehicle's alignment.
How much does it cost to fix your vehicle’s alignment?
Determining how much it costs to perform vehicle land depends on the type of alignment and the number of wheels to be aligned.
For example, if you plan to perform alignments to the front end of your car, which covers the front wheels only, you might need to pay between $50 and $75.
On the other hand, if you're interested in applying the four wheels, the price can go as high as $100 to $150.
Of course, the repair shop or location where you get the job done can also affect the total bill Because labor costs differ significantly depending on your mechanic.
How long does it take to perform a wheel alignment?
One of the most frequent questions that we receive from multiple customers has to deal with the time it takes for the mechanic to perform the wheel alignment.
In general, wheel alignment takes about one hour to perform a four-wheel alignment or a two surprising wheel alignment.
While it's not going to be a long waiting time to perform wheel alignment, the process might take longer in some scenarios.
If the mechanic discovered a problem with the suspension system, the track Rd, the steering bushings, he might need to replace these components, which takes additional time. Thus, be prepared to put more time in if you know that your car suffers from issues in the suspension system.
Is it bad to drive with bad alignment?
When your vehicle doesn't have the right wheel alignment, it won't prevent you from driving your car, and you will still be able to get going.
However, automotive experts never recommend keeping driving your vehicle, especially if the alignment is bad.
As we indicated before, bad wheel alignment might result in too premature uneven in your tires, which might also put you in unsafe situations.
Additionally, bad wheel alignments can cause further complications in your vehicle's suspension system, and you will notice needing to visit the gas station more often.
Thus, it is never a wise decision to skip wheel alignment no matter what.
How fast will tires wear with bad alignment?
We've been mentioning that bad wheel alignment can result in fast tire wear, but the question always remains, how fast will tires wear with bad alignment?
Surprisingly, even if your car has a small issue in the alignment, it might cost the tires to lose thousands of miles from their lifetime. Moreover, major wheel alignment issues can cause significant damages to your tires within hundreds of miles only.
With the car keeps wandering back and forth and leaning towards one side more than the other, it affects and reduces its lifetime significantly by increasing the strain and the stress on the wheels, which results in more friction.
How far can you drive without an alignment?
That's another great question that we frequently received as well. While vehicle alignment time differs significantly depending on how bad the alignment is, automotive experts never recommend driving your car for more than 500 miles if you're dealing with bad alignment.
Of course, suppose your vehicle has major symptoms like steering vibration or shaking. In that case, it might be a wrong idea to continue driving this car, and a wise decision would be to bring this vehicle to the nearest repair shop and get the alignment done immediately.
Yes, this might cost you some time and effort, and we understand that you might be busy but, think about the other circumstances and outcomes that might happen if you don't get the alignment done, which costs you much more.
Proper alignment is one of the most important things to keep an eye on when driving any vehicle. Without the right alignment, you'll put your life and the passenger's life at risk of crashes. You will notice a significant reduction in your vehicle's overall performance along with the reduced gas mileage.
Luckily, there are some symptoms you can keep an eye and ear for, indicating that the vehicles do for an alignment soon. Most of these symptoms will be noticed once you put your hands on the steering wheel.
Since some of these symptoms might be related to other problems in your vehicle, your best course of action is to take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and confirm that the problem is related to improper alignment.
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