Out of all the things that can go wrong in your car, having improper alignment can be one of the most dangerous. If your car is improperly aligned you have limited control over your vehicle. This can be detrimental to you and the drivers around you. That’s why it’s important to diagnose an alignment issue quickly and get it fixed as soon as possible.
Why is Alignment Important?
Think of a shopping cart. Ideally, all of the wheels point forward, letting you get your groceries and navigate the store without incident. But when one of those wheels is bent out of shape, it becomes much more difficult to steer, and you find yourself running into things you normally wouldn’t.
Now, a shopping cart and a car are very different things, but the idea is the same. If the wheels are aligned, you can move safely and freely. If they aren’t, your control can go haywire.
In a car, alignment actually has more to do with your car’s suspension system than the wheels themselves. The suspension is what the wheels are connected to. It allows them to move over varied terrain and take bumps and dips without issue.
If your cars suspension system gets bent or damaged in some away it effects your wheels alignment, causing issues.
Alignment and Suspension
Your suspension is made up of shocks and springs that are meant to providing a smoother driving and handling experience to you. It keeps your wheels on the ground, increasing the amount of friction and thus traction that your car has on the road surface. Your suspension is what lets you drive down bumpy backroads and over potholes without taking too much damage to your vehicle.
Without this system your car would sustain substantial damage, even from the most minor roads. When your suspension is damaged, it effects how your tires interact with the road. This is how problems arise.
How Long Does Your Suspension Last?
The best rule of thumb is to check your owner’s manual for information about maintenance schedules and when to get your suspension/alignment checked. Typically, you should get it checked every 50,000 miles. This timeline can be dependent on things like terrain and wheels as well. If you’re consistently driving over uneven terrain or have been driving on a spare, this timeframe can be shortened significantly.
What to Look For
There are quite a symptoms of a misaligned car. Here are just a few of the most telling signs:
- One sign that your wheels may be misaligned is an issue with handling. If your steer begins to feel loose or starts to lock up, it could be a sign of an issue. Similarly, if your wheel is shaking it is a good idea to have your alignment checked right away.
- “Pulling” to one side is a clear sign that something isn’t right. If it feels like your car is being pulled left or right it’s time to check your alignment. It’s obvious why this would be an issue. A “pulling” car can drift into neighboring lanes of traffic or onto curbs if you’re not paying attention. This increasing your chances for collision or crash.
- Typically, your car is supposed to recenter itself after a turn. This is a system built into cars to keep you safe. If you go around a corner and don’t feel your car readjust once you’re out of the turn it can be a sign of an alignment issues.
- While this can sometimes be an issue with your tires themselves, uneven wear can be a sign of improper alignment. When your suspension is bent out of shape your tires aren’t aligned properly. This means that not all of your tires are taking bumps and turns the same. This can result in some tires receiving more use wear than others.
If you think you’re suspension is due for a check come to Beetlesmith’s Valley Auto Service. Our trained technicians will help diagnose the problem fully and work to get you safely back on the road.
For more on how your car’s suspension system works, click here to read an article about it.