Wonky Wheel?: Top 5 Signs It's Time for a Wheel Alignment
Around 19,000 people are injured every year because of tire-related car accidents. Another 500 are killed.
Even more terrifying is that the majority of these accidents were preventable. By checking things like tire pressure and wheel alignment, you can avoid being in a tire-related car accidents.
We've gathered this list of five signs to look for that may indicate you need to have your car's wheels aligned. Be sure you don't ignore these signs. It could save your life.
Keep reading to find out more.
1. Loose Handling
One sign that your car needs a wheel alignment is when the handling feels loose. When you're going straight, it may feel like your car is wandering back and forth in your lane. On turns, it may be difficult to keep it smooth.
This is because your wheels are not lined up properly. When they're not all facing the same direction, they can pull your car in different directions which causes loose handling.
2. Squealing Tires
Tires are not supposed to make noise under normal driving conditions. If you ever hear your tires squealing when driving normally, it could mean you need a wheel alignment.
The squealing you hear when your tires are poorly aligned is caused because the tire isn't in contact with the road the way it was designed to be. It could also be from abnormal tire wear, which you'll see is another sign of bad wheel alignment.
In addition to squealing, your tires may simply make more noise than usual. This is caused by the air chamber. When it's not lined up properly, it can create strange noises while driving.
3. Abnormal Tire Wear
Wear on your tires could be more than just a sign you need new tires. If it's abnormally worn, it could mean your wheel alignment is off. As you can imagine, if the wheel isn't correctly aligned, different parts of the tire will be in contact with the road.
Abnormal tire wear patterns include:
- Wear in center only
- Wear on outer edges only
- Tire feathering
- Scalloped or cupped tires
It can be hard to know for sure if your tires have abnormal wear unless you're having them checked regularly, which is why we recommend having professionals check your tires a couple times per year.
4. Crooked Steering Wheel
Your steering wheel should be straight when you're going straight. If it doesn't come all the way back to its original position on its own after making a turn, there's likely an alignment issue.
Something else that may happen when you need a wheel alignment is that if you pull your steering wheel into its normal position, your car ends up going to one side.
In most cases, this has everything to do with your wheels, and nothing to do with your steering wheel. Following an alignment, your steering wheel should go back to being straight.
5. Car Pulls to One Side
Because this is one of the most common signs of poor wheel alignment, we saved it for last. If you find your car is pulling to one side, it's likely because the wheels aren't all facing forward as they should.
A common test is to take your hands off the wheel while driving straight to see if your vehicle drifts sideways or continues straight. This is dangerous and we don't recommend doing this.
Instead, you can check this by simply feeling the way your car drives while straight. Do you have to hold onto the steering wheel to keep it straight? Is it hugging corners tightly on one side and a fight to turn the other way?
Why Get a Wheel Alignment?
Let's now take a closer look at some of the reasons why you want to get a wheel alignment if you're noticing some of these signs. After all, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to have a crooked steering wheel.
However, as you'll soon see, there are bigger issues than the appearance of your interior to be worried about when it comes to wheel alignments. Here are the two main reasons you should get your wheels aligned.
There are several ways getting a wheel alignment can save you money.
First and foremost, you won't prematurely wear down your tires. Tires can last up to 70,000 miles which is around 5 years for the average American. However, if they're worn down prematurely because of improper wheel alignment, you'll have to replace them early.
The second way a wheel alignment will save you money is on general wear and tear on your car. The suspension can become damaged when your wheels aren't aligned properly, which means you could need to replace that early, too.
Finally, properly aligned wheels will save you money by avoiding tire drag. Tire drag makes your car work a little harder to maintain speed. This costs you extra in gas.
All in all, the money you spend on a wheel alignment will end up saving you in the long run.
Getting a wheel alignment will also help you avoid accidents.
For one thing, when your tires are being worn prematurely, this puts them at risk of a tire blow-out. A blow-out while driving at high speeds is particularly dangerous as you may lose control of your vehicle.
Another way you may get into an accident if your wheels are poorly aligned is by lacking control of your car. If your handling gets loose or your car is pulling to one side, it's hard to keep your car where it should be, which could mean running into something.
Know You Need a Wheel Alignment?
If any of these five signs sounds way too familiar to you, it may be time to get a wheel alignment. If it's not an alignment issue, there may be something else going on with your car that you should have checked out anyway.
Contact us today to schedule a time to come in and get your wheels aligned to save you money and help you avoid getting into an accident.