Wheel alignment is one of the many areas in your car that need to be maintained to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Imagine you’re driving down the highway, but your vehicle suddenly pulls hard to the left or right, making it challenging to stay on the road. This scenario is a case of wheel misalignment.
So, what causes car wheels to become misaligned? And what should you do when that happens? Fortunately, wheel alignment is a simple fix that can get you back out on the road in no time.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
It’s only natural to assume that our vehicles should perform at peak performance, especially after a tune-up. But the truth is, wheel alignment problems can arise at any moment, even after you just had your car fixed. Brand-new vehicles aren’t even exempt from a serious wheel alignment issue. That’s because wheel alignment isn’t just a case of long-term wear and tear. When your wheels become misaligned, your car could be taking some severe damage on rough patches of road.
Poorly maintained roads can bump and batter your vehicle. Potholes will put pressure on your wheels until they are knocked out of alignment. Depending on the condition of the streets, this process can either be gradual or sudden.
Signs Your Wheels Are Out of Alignment
Wheel alignment problems can strike at any moment, especially if driving on poorly maintained roads is a daily occurrence. Whether you have a brand-new vehicle or just had your wheels realigned, that doesn’t prevent you from having to have your wheels adjusted again. While it might be tempting to hold off on giving your vehicle the maintenance it needs, ultimately, you’ll be creating more problems for yourself in the long run.
There are a few signs you should keep an eye on so you can catch wheel alignment problems before they worsen.
- Pulling: If your vehicle pulls to the left or right, there’s likely a problem with your wheel alignment. Like an old shopping cart at a grocery store, it can be challenging to steer the vehicle straight as you’re forced to overcorrect the wheels to stay on the road.
- Steering Wheel Not Straight: If your steering wheel needs to be turned more to the left or right to drive straight, then this is a good sign that you need to have your wheels realigned. To minimize damage buildup on your vehicle, you’ll want to take your car to a mechanic sooner rather than later.
- Uneven Tire Wear: Tire wear is what will happen if you don’t catch wheel alignment problems early. While all tires gradually wear out over time, some of your tires will have more wear and tear than the rest. The longer you drive on misaligned wheels, the more uneven wear builds up on your tires. Misaligned wheels put a lot of stress on tires, so as soon as you notice these signs consider taking your vehicle in for some much-needed auto maintenance.
- Steering Vibration: A more serious sign that there’s a problem in your wheel alignment is when your steering wheel begins to vibrate or shake as you drive. Unless you’re driving on a bumpy road, this means your vehicle is severely out of alignment. If you continue driving with a vibrating wheel for too long, the misalignment will cause further problems to other parts of your vehicle.
- Squealing Tires: If you hear your tires squealing as you turn, either your tires are misaligned, or you have worn out brake pads. However, if you’re noticing several other signs of poor wheel alignment, then there’s a good chance your tires are squealing because of the added pressure of misaligned wheels. To prevent further damage, you should visit a mechanic to get the correct diagnosis and have the issue resolved.
- High Fuel Consumption: The harder you fight to keep your vehicle on the road, the faster fuel burns to maintain control.
DANGERS OF POOR WHEEL ALIGNMENT
Aside from risking a more costly repair by ignoring the problem, misaligned wheels will eventually be so hard to control that you’ll be risking a car accident. There are many times that while driving, we need to swerve to miss an obstacle in the road, which will be far more difficult if your vehicle already has trouble steering. That’s why you should keep your vehicle maintained before that happens.
Wheel alignment degradation can be annoying; it can also be a severe safety hazard the longer you ignore the problem. If you find yourself oversteering while driving, there’s a good chance that you need to have your tires realigned.
If you feel that your wheels could be misaligned, learn more about the problem and don’t hesitate to drive on over to Naylor’s Auto Repair to handle any of your car needs.