Proper alignment on your vehicle is crucial for promoting even tread wear and consistent performance in your steering. If alignment is off, tires can wear faster and unevenly, and the car can “pull” to one side. Consider that for an average vehicle driven about 12,000 miles per year with a toe alignment just 0.34 degrees (0.17 inches) out of specification it will have dragged its tires off-kilter for nearly 70 miles by the end of the year, causing negative impacts on your vehicle. This wear happens even faster if you enjoy driving a high-performance vehicle to its full potential.
Believe it or not, improperly aligned wheels that cause excessive wear on your tires can also reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as 10% – or about 31 cents per gallon. That’s because when your tires are not perfectly vertical to the road, they may be traveling in a subtly different direction than the vehicle is going. This causes additional friction, meaning your engine has to exert more force, and consume more gas, to push it forward.
Even the slightest misalignment can cause negative effects and force your vehicle to run at less-than-optimal performance, so it is important to continually check alignment. Automotive Diagnostic Specialties (ADS Auto Repair) offers wheel alignment inspections for any vehicle. Our ASE-certified mechanics provide highly detailed and precise wheel alignments, using state-of-the-art equipment to fix your alignment issues and keep you safe.
Many of today’s vehicles are equipped with both front and rear suspensions that can be adjusted for alignment. Our alignment technicians will determine if you have two- or four-wheel alignment, and using the latest computerized alignment machines we will set the proper adjustments to the vehicle. Regular wheel alignments and tire balancing can help prevent damage to your car’s steering and suspension systems. Poor alignment can cause vibrations that will damage other parts of the vehicle.
Regular alignment maintenance can also preserve the life of your tires. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, new tire prices can range anywhere from $100 – $1,400 apiece, so it’s wise to do everything possible to increase the longevity and safety of your tires.
How to Tell When Alignment is Off
Look for the following symptoms:
- Uneven tire wear or unusually excessive wear in general – Wearing can sometimes be seen in abnormal places, with either the outside or inside edge of your tire becoming more bare than the other
- Steering wheel pulls to one side – May be slight or may be more drastic depending on amount of misalignment or whether more serious steering system issues exist
- Steering wheel vibrates while driving or turning – This is particularly noticeable when driving at speeds of 55 mph or higher
- Steering wheel is off-center while driving straight – If the steering wheel feels loose or is not centered while you’re moving straight ahead, this could be an indication alignment is uneven
How Often Do I Need Wheel Alignments?
We recommend you have your alignment checked at least once per year. However, if you drive a high-performance vehicle or sports car – or your vehicle has wider tires – alignment service should be done more often. From our experience in the industry, we’ve noticed that wheels usually become misaligned after a year or two of driving, from regular use or from hitting a bump in the road.
If you notice signs of misalignment or haven’t had alignment checked in over a year, bring in your vehicle today and we’ll take a look to make sure your alignment is true and that there aren’t any other issues with your steering system. We can catch minor issues before they turn into something larger and more costly. Call us at (480) 961-8704 to schedule an appointment.