5 common indications your car needs wheels alignment

Article by Christian A., on August 20, 2018

It is already terrible to drive on bad roads, and it is equally dreadful to drive on misaligned wheels. Properly aligned wheels help ensure optimal levels of drivability. Aside from giving a rough drive, misaligned wheels can cause uneven tire wear, damage to steering and suspension parts, as well as compromise the fuel economy of your car.

The alignment of the wheels is made possible by a set of nuts and bolts located in the sensitive area of knuckle in the axle. These nuts and bolts experience vibrations as the car moves. The vibrations are strong particularly when the car traverses bad roads. Over time, these nuts and bolts get loose and the wheels gets misaligns.

Likewise, all parts and components of a car are always subject to wear and tear. When parts like the suspension springs become worn and slack, the wheels can misalign. In addition, when the height of the vehicle is modified without adjusting the suspension, the wheels may also misalign.

Of course, external forces can cause the wheels to misalign. When the car collides with another object, the sudden jarring or impact may cause wheel misalignment. This is also true when the impact is great the car bumps a curb or hits a pothole.

But how would you know if your wheels are misaligned? Here are five common indications.

1. Abnormal or uneven tire wear

When tires wear, it would be even across the tire tread. However, when the wear is uneven – meaning that some places are worn greater than others – there could be some problem not just with the wheel alignment, but also with inflation, suspension and overall car balance.

For instance, if only the inside or outer of the tires are worn out, then there is issue with the camber, which is tilting angle of the wheel. If there is feathering or scalloping on the tires, there could be an issue with the toe, which is how much the wheels are turned in or out. Problems with the camber or toe mean the wheels are not aligned.

2. Steering wheel is not centered

Normally, the steering wheel should be sitting centered and straight when you are driving on a flat, level road. There might be a slight discrepancy when driving on the crown of the road, but this is still normal. But when the steering wheel is off center, the car might be suffering from wheel misalignment.

3. Steering wheel doesn’t return to center.

It should be natural for the steering wheel to return to the center after you have completed a turn. But if it doesn’t, the wheels could be misaligned.

4. Loose handling while driving

If the steering seems loose or unstable especially when maneuvering on a corner, the wheels of your car might not be aligned. Of course, this can be caused by other issues.

5. The car pulls to one side

When your hands are firm on the steering wheel and yet the car pulls to the left or to the right, a wheel misalignment could be causing this situation.

If you are experiencing any of the issues above, it is best to visit a professional to have your car inspected and your wheels aligned as needed.

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