It’s a term you might hear every time you visit an auto repair shop, but what is wheel alignment all about and why is it necessary? In the simplest terms, it ensures that all four wheels and tires are rolling in exactly the same direction. Over time, wheels can become off-track and even the slightest misalignment can affect your vehicle’s performance and drivability.
Here we’re going to lay out all of the benefits of wheel alignment, which involves making adjustments to your vehicle’s suspension system – the connection between the vehicle and the wheels.
Here are the 5 benefits of wheel alignment:
1. Increase Fuel Efficiency.
If your car isn’t aligned properly, your wheels won’t work together like they should. Because of this, your vehicle’s engine has to work a lot harder to propel you forward and this decreases your car’s fuel efficiency.
2. Reduce Expensive Auto Repairs.
Driving with poor alignment will cause the parts in your car to wear out unevenly and prematurely. Every time you hit a pothole or bump in the road, you’re steering and suspension systems take a hit.
If your tires don’t help evenly during impact, certain areas of these systems will take impact harder than others, causing them to fail sooner than they should. If they fail completely, you face an expensive auto repair service that could have been avoided.
3. Experience Smoother Driving.
When your car’s wheel alignment is turned off, you will usually find that your car drifts slightly to the right or left, even though your steering wheel is pointed straight ahead. Constantly adjusting steering to overcompensate for poor alignment is tiring, inefficient, distracting, and dangerous!
4. Improve Vehicle Safety.
Proper maintenance of your car, truck, SUV, minivan or hybrid vehicle will help keep it running better. It also prevents you from encountering unexpected car troubles that could leave you stranded on the side of the road. Don’t put off aligning your wheels until it’s too late.
5. Longer-Lasting Tires
Improper alignment can lead to premature and uneven tire wear. If you wait until it’s too late to do a wheel alignment, you may end up buying new tires more often. While you are near your vehicle, check your tires to see if they show any signs of these three types of uneven or premature tire wear:
- Feathering: Tires are ” feathered ” when the tread is smooth or worn on one side and sharp on the other. This type of tire wear occurs when there is a combination of incorrect alignment settings.
- Camber wear: Does the inside or outside edge of your tire tread look much more worn than the center of the tread? This may be due to fall wear. Camber refers to the angle of your tires on the vehicle frame and can be positive or negative depending on the angle. Positive camber (leaning outward) is usually helpful in keeping recreational vehicles stable, while negative camber (leaning inward) helps high-performance vehicles negotiate corners. While some positive or negative camber is good, too much of either is bad.
- Heel and toe wear: Take a picture of your tire treads and zoom in. These individual sections are called tire “tread blocks”. When one side of a tread block in the direction of travel of your tire seems to be wearing faster than the other, it is referred to as heel and toe wear. A symptom of heel/toe wear can be noise or vibration.
Getting your tires aligned and balanced every 6,000 miles or so can help your tires—and your entire vehicle last longer and perform better.