How do you know if your car is out of alignment?
An alignment refers to the adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension. Your suspension points your vehicle’s tires straight down the road when it is properly aligned. When your suspension goes out of alignment, it causes irregular tire wear and steering inconsistencies. Although commonly referred to as a wheel alignment, the result can effect multiple points on your vehicle.
Most common problems with a car’s alignment are usually attributed to impacts with potholes, brushing up against or hitting curbs or other objects. Each of these jarring blows shakes your suspension, causing it to stray from its ideal alignment settings. However, you needn’t bump into something, over time, your vehicle can naturally go out of alignment. Normal wear and tear causes rubber suspension components to crack as well, ball and socket joints to loosen, and the compounding thousands of small impacts can eventually effect your vehicle’s ideal alignment settings.
Worn suspension parts also cause alignment problems. Worn springs can slightly lower your ride height which in turn alters your vehicle’s geometry, thus creating misalignment. Often referred to as “cupping”, weak springs will contribute to uneven tire wear. Common erratic handling can be attributed to worn ball joints leading to slow steering response and irregular tire wear. Finally, worn tire rods allow the tires to wander left to right. This unwanted motion changes the tire’s ideal angle, and causes irregular tire wear as the vehicle drives down the road.
If you notice your odd vehicle behaviours such as the vehicle pulling to the left or right, irregular tire wear, or the steering wheel is off center when driving straight, you should have your vehicle inspected for possible alignment concerns. Alignment issues that go uncorrected will cause tires to wear down and need to be replaced prematurely.