You may know that proper tire alignment is important to the driving performance of your car. Did you also know that properly aligned tires can save you a great deal of money? Misaligned tires cause a variety of costly problems for your vehicle.
It’s more than a nuisance when your steering wheel veers to the right or left on its own, which is one sign of misalignment. Such improper tire alignment can lead to a variety of expensive problems, including early wear and tear on your tires and poor gas mileage.
How your car becomes misaligned
Properly aligned tires rotate in a straight line, which results in the steering wheel staying steady. This provides an easy driving experience. Wheel misalignment causes the vehicle to become off-center, making it difficult to steer in a straight line. When misalignment is severe, driving can even be tiring for the arms.
Wheels can become misaligned quickly. For instance, if you hit a curb, drive over a pothole, or strike something in the road, such as a rock, your tires can be knocked out of alignment. A minor accident with another car can also cause misalignment.
Warning signs your car’s tires are misaligned
The telltale sign that your car’s tires are misaligned is the steering wheel pulling or drifting to one side or the other when you drive. If you let go of the steering wheel for a moment with an aligned car, it will continue to drive straight. Misaligned cars will drift or veer to the left or right when you let go. The more the car veers, the more misaligned the tires are.
Below are other signs that your car is experiencing alignment problems, which can bear potentially costly results.
Tires wearing out quickly: Of course, in time your tires will wear out. But if your tires are wearing out sooner than what’s recommended by the tire manufacturer, which is on average every six years, then your alignment may be off. Replacing tires frequently can be quite costly.
Uneven wear on your tires: If one of your back or front tires is worn down on the outside of the tire and there is no such wear on the opposite tire, this indicates that your tires are out of alignment. Getting your tires aligned will prevent them from wearing down unevenly and save you the expense of having to buy new ones prematurely. Even having to replace two of your four tires is a bill you don’t want.
Vibration and noises: Improper alignment causes the tires to pull against one another, which results in vibration. You may also hear unusual noises as you drive, such as rubbing sounds or squealing of the tires.
When your car shakes as you drive, this can loosen and cause damage to your car’s various parts, including the engine and steering column. For example, misaligned tires can stress your vehicle’s suspension and damage components. This can result in the need for costly suspension repairs.
Crooked steering wheel: Another common symptom of misaligned tires is if your steering wheel is crooked, even though you’re heading straight ahead. Such severe misalignment can adversely affect how your car handles and how well the braking system works. All of this puts potentially costly undue stress on your vehicle—and you.
Poor gas mileage: Since misaligned tires essentially pull against each other and can even experience some drag, this creates a situation where the car must put more energy into driving than it should. This can lead to bad gas mileage. If you find that you’re filling up more frequently, suspect an alignment problem.
More important than the expense of misaligned tires is your well being. Severely misaligned tires can compromise your safety on the road. If you suspect your vehicle has an alignment issue, bring it in for service promptly.