Tires don’t get enough credit. Vehicles may live on the road, but only their tires ever get to be in constant contact with the harsh roads in order to keep them moving. As a result, caring for the tires is just as important as caring for the car itself. One such way is through proper tire alignment, which will improve your tire’s lifespan and your vehicle’s performance.
So how often should you get a tire alignment? How long does a tire alignment take? It really can get confusing knowing when to pull your car over at the mechanic, and understandably so.
In this article, you’re going to find answers to these questions and many more. Also, you’ll get to see the entire tire alignment process and the benefits it portends. Let’s get to it!
- 1 How long does an alignment take?
- 2 Tire alignment and the 5-Step process
- 3 Why I need a tire alignment for my car?
- 4 What are the benefits of well-aligned tires?
- 5 5 Signs Your Car Needs an Alignment
- 6 Conclusion
How long does an alignment take?
A tire alignment takes an average of 1 hour for a two-wheel or a four-wheel-drive if everything else is okay. Naturally, this duration doesn’t include waiting time.
However, it could take longer if there’re prior issues with the steering bushing, suspension system, or damage to other parts.
Tire alignment and the 5-Step process
What is a Tire Alignment?
A tire alignment, simply put, is the process of aligning the wheels of your vehicle with the road surface and with one another. The mechanic does this by ensuring the vehicle’s suspension system is in the right position. Also, the mechanic adjusts other components that affect the alignment of the wheels.
How often should I get a tire alignment?
Now to the big question, ‘how often should I get a tire alignment?’ We recommend that you take your car to the mechanic for wheel alignment at least once every year. Typically, a vehicle’s wheels start to lose their alignment after a year or two.
However, the frequency will depend on the vehicle type, weather condition, and driving habit. For example, vehicles you put on the road often will require a tire alignment more frequently.
Also, you should check with the owner’s manual of the vehicle for the manufacturer’s recommendation.
5 basic steps for getting tires aligned
Here are the basic steps for fixing a bad tire alignment:
1. The mechanic test-drives your vehicle to get a feel of the misalignment
2. After that, they’ll suspend the vehicle on a hoist to check if every wheel component is in good condition. Usually, they will replace any damaged or worn-out parts before continuing with the alignment.
3. Next, the mechanic will check each tire’s pressure and pump any that needs some air.
4. The expert will then connect the alignment system to your vehicle and adjust the vehicle’s toe, thrust, camber, and caster. They’ll also check that the steering wheel is in the right position.
5. Lastly, the mechanic will again take your vehicle for a test drive to ensure the tires have been aligned properly.
Why I need a tire alignment for my car?
Tire Alignment helps tires perform efficiently on the road and also helps maintain their durability. With a proper adjustment of your car’s suspension, you can prevent your can from pulling to the left or right while driving. Also, tire alignment keeps your steering wheel right at the center when you’re driving straight.
Wheel alignment ensures your tires cradle the road at the right angle. An expert mechanic will adjust your car’s wheels to the original specifications. As a result, you enjoy a smooth drive, longer tire life, and gas efficiency.
Also, it would be best if you got a tire alignment after installing new tires, as it helps to correct any issues with the car’s steering and maximize the tire’s lifespan.
What are the benefits of well-aligned tires?
You stand to gain a lot of benefits when you align your tires regularly. Not many people know this, and that’s why we’re going to show you some of the benefits.
1. Safe, comfortable driving experience
Well-aligned tires will ensure your vehicle smoothly runs on the road, which is true regardless of your vehicle type or brand. It’s one less issue to worry about when you’re thinking of taking a long trip.
Also, aligned tires get rid of the uncomfortable car drifts you experience with misaligned tires. There’s absolutely no need to keep moving your steering wheel to counter your vehicle’s uncontrollable left or right swerve. That saves you the stress, inefficiency, and danger that usually come with that.
2. Handling capacity improvement
With well-aligned tires, you can accelerate, brake, and corner without stress. Also, you get to enjoy directional stability as you travel in the car. All of these are possible because of proper weight distribution, suspension, and good tread depth that come with good alignment.
3. Cost savings
In the short run, you save a lot on fuel when your wheels are working properly. With misaligned wheels, you put more burden on your car engine, which subsequently takes a toll on fuel efficiency.
In the long run, the more you drive with poorly aligned tires, the more you subject your vehicle’s components to wear and tear. Consequently, your vehicle could experience some severe damage after a couple of months, and the cost of repair could be a scare. Hence, getting a wheel alignment could save you lots of money in auto repair.
4. Vehicle’s performance and longevity improvement
Well-aligned tires improve general vehicle performance, which can prevent avoidable accidents, keeping your vehicle’s body in tip-top shape. Misaligned tires can damage your car’s suspension and rims, which in turn leads to reduced vehicle performance. So if you want your car to stay in great shape and maintain its value over time, you have to keep your tires in mind.
Having correctly aligned tires improves not only your car’s longevity but also extends the life of your tires. If you drive with misaligned tires, you’ll find your tires wearing out at the edges. That’s not a good sign if you want the tires to last long and strong.
5 Signs Your Car Needs an Alignment
Now that you know why you must keep your car’s tires aligned, here are five signs that may indicate a need for realignment.
|Uneven tires||Uneven tread depth between the tires|
|Off-center steering wheel||Directional pull|
|Steering wheel vibrating||Vibrations on the steering wheel|
|Sharp pulling in one direction||The car pulls in one direction while driving|
|The steering wheel is loose||The steering wheel wanders; little tire movement with frequent steering|
1. Uneven tires
One easy way to tell if your car needs an alignment is by physically inspecting the tires. If the tires are in alignment, the tread depth of all the tires will be the same. But if you see uneven tire wear, your tires are probably out of alignment.
This sign is so important because you can always discover it when you’re not driving. It’s important to quickly take your vehicle to an auto shop when you see this anomaly.
2. Off-Center steering wheel
It is pretty easy to tell if your steering wheel is centered or not. When there’s a misalignment, your steering goes off-center, giving you the feel of driving in just one direction. This issue can become dangerous when you’re driving as it pulls your car into a slight tilt.
The best way to fix this problem is to have your mechanic perform a four-wheel alignment. This alignment will ensure the four tires are pointing in a straight direction. As a result, the steering wheel goes back to its typical center position.
3. Steering wheel vibrating
A vibrating steering wheel during a drive is obviously not normal. It’s usually a sign of a car that needs alignment. When the wheels are out of alignment, they cause the steering wheel to vibrate.
This issue could be a sign of more serious issues. So it’s important to take the car to the auto repair shop immediately you notice this problem.
4. Sharp pulling in one direction
This is one of the most common signs of misaligned tires. You’ll notice the car pulling in one direction while driving out of the blue. The sharp pull makes it challenging to drive in a straight line for long or even make a turn for a moment. Consequently, driving becomes almost a nightmare and puts you at risk.
5. The steering wheel is loose
When a car is in great shape, the steering wheel is firm and steady. However, that takes an opposite turn when there’s an alignment problem. You start to feel your steering wheel wandering about or loose.
Because of the loose steering wheel, the car slowly responds to the direction you steer. Even with frequent steering, you end up with little tire movement, which makes driving difficult and uncomfortable.
Having your well-aligned tires is non-negotiable. In addition to ensuring a safe, smooth ride every time, you get to save on auto repair costs. Your vehicle performs better, and your tires enjoy a longer lifespan.
On average, you should get a tire alignment once every year, except the owner’s manual states otherwise. The process usually takes one hour, besides waiting time. So an hour every year isn’t too much to give for the benefits of well-aligned tires.