Wheel alignments are very important to both tyre wear and the overall control of your vehicle. Improper wheel or, as they are also called, tyre alignments can cause your tyres to wear unevenly and prematurely. They can also cause you to have poor control, or lose control completely of your vehicle. That is why it’s very important to make sure the wheels of your vehicle are properly aligned by a professional.
Basically, when your wheels are out of alignment, your tyres are pointing in the wrong direction or on an angle. This affects your steering and suspension, but most importantly, it can greatly affect your safety and the safety of your passengers.
How do your wheels get unaligned?
It doesn’t take much to affect your vehicle’s wheel alignment, in fact there are several things that can cause improper wheel alignment including:
Running over potholes
Hitting a curb
Bumping into concrete parking blocks
Basic wear and tear – as your vehicle ages, the rubber parts start to dry up and crack, which causes ball and socket joints to become loose, getting progressively worse over time.
For an idea of how much damage bumping something just right with your tyres can be, alignment angles are measured in tenths and hundredths of degrees. Once your wheels are out of alignment the damage can easily build up over time if not corrected.
How often should you have your alignment checked?
It is recommended that you have your vehicle’s alignment checked every other oil change. A lot can happen to your wheel alignment after 6,000 miles, even if you aren’t purposely hard on your vehicle. The longer you wait to get your wheels aligned, once they are out of alignment, the more damage it can cause.
Will I be able to notice my wheels aren’t aligned?
In most cases you will only be able to tell your wheels aren’t aligned if they are so far gone that you’re able to see that the tyres are on severe angles. However, in most cases, you won’t be able to tell your wheels are out of alignment just by looking at them.
You may not be able to tell if your wheels are on an angle, rather than being nice and straight like they should be, however, in a lot of cases you can tell aren’t aligned properly by checking the wear pattern on your tyres treads.
Feathering – tyres are considered “feathered” when the tread is smooth on one side and still have good tread left on the other.
Camber Wear – This is when either the inside or the outside of the tread is significantly more worn than the center.
It doesn’t take much movement to cause serious problems with wear and safety. Wheels that aren’t aligned properly are like a snowball rolling down a mountain, it may start out the size of a pebble, but as it rolls further and further down the hill, it becomes and bigger and bigger problem. That is why you need to make sure your wheels are properly aligned before the problem becomes too costly or dangerous.