Wheel Alignment - When to Do It

wheel alignments

If you're wondering whether your car needs an alignment, first look at your tires. Uneven tire wear is a prime indicator that your car is likely out of alignment. Here are a few more indicators:

  • your car seems to be drifting to one side, even when you think you're driving straight
  • your steering wheel vibrates
  • you are driving straight, but your steering wheel isn't centered

Even if none of these indicators have occurred and it's been a while since your last alignment, you should check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommend service interval. An out-of-alignment car is a common result of everyday driving where your car's suspension can become worn and the springs can be stretched out. The alignment process restores the car's suspension into its proper configuration, positioning and adjusting components so that the wheels are aligned with one another and the road surface.

DRIVE Auto Care's alignment machines are linked to a computer that assure a precise measurement. An alignment essentially requires the squaring of a car's wheels and axles with each other so that they're moving in the same direction. Our mechanics adjust the various suspension angles -- known as toe, thrust, camber and caster -- that influence tire movement and position. We also ensure that the steering wheel is centered.

The type of alignment you receive will depend on your car's suspension. A four-wheel alignment is reserved for all-wheel drive vehicles or front-wheel drive vehicles with independent or adjustable rear suspensions. In this case, both axles have to be properly aligned so that all four wheels align in a rectangle, parallel to one another and perpendicular to the ground. Otherwise, your car will likely require a front-end alignment or a thrust-angle alignment. After the alignment is complete, we provide a printout that shows the before and after images of the suspension alignment.

An alignment will ensure that your car drives straight and handles properly, making your ride safer. You'll also get better gas mileage because your tires will be properly aligned with the road, decreasing resistance.

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