When you get behind the wheel of your car, you expect that the car will go in the direction that you steer. However, maintaining proper control of your vehicle is largely dependent on your wheel alignment. Having good wheel alignment is important to safe vehicle handling.

Poor wheel alignment can be caused by road and weather conditions, poor driving habits, and inconsistent maintenance. It can lead to uneven or premature tire wear, as well as causing issues with steering and handling. If you think your vehicle’s tires are not properly aligned, you should address the problem as soon as you notice it. A skilled technician at your local tire shop in Riverton or Cottonwood can realign your tires quickly.

Wheel Alignment

(stux / pixabay)

Let’s discuss why poor wheel alignment is a problem, what typically causes it, and how to look out for it.

Why Proper Wheel Alignment is Necessary

Proper wheel alignment not only makes your vehicle safer to drive but it provides you with a host of other benefits as well.

  • Helps extend the lifetime of your tires
  • Improves the fuel economy of your vehicle
  • Staves off costly suspension issues and repairs
  • Provides a smoother and more comfortable driving experience

What is Wheel Alignment?

Alignment is not actually an adjustment of the tires themselves. Rather it is associated with the suspension system that holds the wheels to the vehicle. The alignment adjusts the angles in the suspension system so that the tires have better contact with the road.

Proper alignment is key to keeping the tires all working together to move towards the same direction and at matching speeds. If any of these components shift out of their place, then there will be an issue of misalignment, which may lead to further issues within the suspension system.

What Causes Misalignment?

There are a variety of reasons that your vehicle’s tires will misalign, including environmental reasons like road conditions and inclement weather, wear and tear on your vehicle’s parts, as well as bad driving habits. Some specific reasons behind your misaligned wheels may include:

  • Sudden Impacts – These can be caused by careless driving and include bumping into curbs, driving too fast over speed bumps, hitting potholes, running into debris on the road, and other minor collisions.
  • Suspension Problems – Certain components in the suspension system, such as bad struts and shocks, that have torn loose or become worn may cause misalignment.
  • Overloading Your Vehicle – The suspension system of your vehicle is designed to work within specified height determinations set by the manufacturer. If you put too much weight on the vehicle, you may cause the car to ride lower, putting stress on the suspension and risking your vehicle’s wheel alignment. Check with your vehicle’s height specifications to be sure that you aren’t working it outside of its parameters.

Are Your Wheels Aligned?

Maybe you’re unsure of what misalignment may feel like. Here are some things that you can look for to see if your vehicle has poor wheel alignment. If your wheels are misaligned, here are some vehicle symptoms you may experience.

  • Your vehicle vibrates or shakes while on the road.
  • Your drive feels unnecessarily bumpy.
  • Your vehicle drags to one side.
  • Your steering wheel struggles to remain straight.
  • Your steering wheel vibrates or jolts.
  • Your tires appear to have excessive or uneven tear and appear more rough than normal.
  • You find grooves on the road from your vehicle’s tracks.

Although there is much you can do to prevent wheel misalignment, you cannot always avoid bad road conditions, accidents, or other driving mishaps involving debris. But, there are some steps that you can take to prevent wheel misalignment.

You can take care of your vehicle’s alignment through regular tire care. In addition to paying attention to the above symptoms, you should also have an alignment performed if your vehicle’s tire treads are uneven or when you buy new tires.

You should also check your vehicle’s tire pressure frequently to make sure that they match the vehicle’s recommended PSI (or pounds per square inch). PSI is utilized to quantify the pressure inside of the tires and can be found in the vehicle manual. Proper tire pressure will help prevent problems with your vehicle pulling to either side and maintain proper alignment.

If you notice any one of these alignment symptoms, drop by our Sugar Hose auto repair center and get a wheel alignment performed. You can prevent more damage to your vehicle the sooner you take it in for a wheel alignment.