When it comes to regular vehicle maintenance, you know the basics: oil change, tire rotation, and topping off windshield wiper fluid. But what about wheel alignment?
Getting a car alignment is vital to ensure safe and efficient driving, prevent unnecessary wear on tires and other components, and save you money in the long run. Is your vehicle pulling to one side, or is one tire more worn than the others? Learn what can cause misalignment and what you can do to help prevent the issue in this guide.
What Is a Vehicle Alignment?
A wheel alignment adjusts the angles of the wheels to ensure they are within specifications, perpendicular to the ground, parallel to each other, and pointed in the right direction. All of which are essential for safe and efficient driving.
Properly aligned wheels also maximize the tire surface area that comes into contact with the road, providing better traction and handling. This helps your tires to wear evenly and prevents premature wear.
What Causes a Car to Go Out of Alignment?
There are several different reasons that your car can go out of alignment. Three primary causes include:
- Time and normal wear and tear. Over time, the suspension parts of a vehicle can wear out, causing the wheels to become misaligned.
- Accidents. Aside from time and normal wear and tear, a car accident can cause the wheels to become misaligned. Even a minor collision can throw off the alignment of the wheels.
- Poor road conditions: Hitting curbs or potholes, experiencing rough road conditions, and running over speed bumps too fast can all cause your wheels to go out of alignment.
How Long Can You Drive With Bad Alignment?
So, what happens if you don’t get a wheel alignment and neglect this service completely? Driving a car with bad alignment is never recommended and can cause more than just an annoying driving experience. Doing so could lead to reduced fuel economy, expensive tire replacement costs, and steering concerns that could put you, your passengers, and other motorists at risk.
The frequency of alignment service can depend on driving conditions, the suspension and driver assistance systems in your vehicle, and the type of vehicle you have. Your car owner’s manual will detail precisely how often you should get an alignment.
However, every 6,000 miles is typical for wheel alignment services. And if you notice any signs of misalignment or have any repairs done to your suspension or steering components, getting a wheel alignment is often required.
What Do Tires Have To Do With Alignment?
Misalignment can cause tires to wear unevenly, which can result in the need for premature replacement. High-quality tires, such as the Bridgestone Turanza, are often designed to last longer, so you won't have to replace them as often. However, it's important to remember that even with quality tires, you must check your alignment regularly and address any issues as soon as possible.
Just how fast can a bad alignment ruin tires? Imagine writing with a pencil at a sharp angle and how quickly the tip wears down. Now think of your tires as the pencil lead. When they aren't perpendicular to the ground and pointing in the right direction, this unevenness can cause degradation, affecting the lifespan of your tires.
Get Back in Alignment at Firestone Complete Auto Care.
Don't put off your vehicle's wheel alignment until it's too late. When you stop by Firestone Complete Auto Care, our technicians offer Wheel Alignment Services and Safety System Alignment Services to help you stay the path. We also offer various limited warranties* on our wheel alignments so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Schedule your appointment today!
*Consult with a Firestone Complete Auto Care manager for complete conditions and terms of the lifetime limited warranty