Most drivers want to put gas in their vehicles and go. They often only think about vehicle maintenance once their check engine light comes on or some other indicator alerts them. They seldom consider their tires or the importance of aligning their wheels. Unfortunately, improper wheel alignment can be dangerous. What causes improper alignment, and what problems can this cause? Read on for more information about wheel alignment.
What Is Proper Wheel Alignment?
When you hear the term wheel alignment, what does it mean? Proper wheel alignment means ensuring that the angles of your wheels are adjusted so that they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.
While wheels are often aligned and balanced at the same time to ensure a smooth drive and proper handling, these are two different functions. Improper balancing causes vibrations you can feel while driving at higher speeds, while your alignment affects how your vehicle tracks when driving.
A good mechanic will always start and finish an alignment by driving your vehicle for a short distance. This test drive will allow them to experience how your car is steering.
What Causes Improper Wheel Alignment?
No matter how adequately aligned your wheels were when you purchased your car, they will become unaligned over time just by everyday driving events. Some of these events include the following:
- Striking potholes or curbing
- Hitting road debris
- Bad suspension parts
- Minor collisions
Having your alignment checked a couple of times per year is essential, as minor misalignments are not always noticeable until they become a much larger problem.
What Are The Signs Of Improper Wheel Alignment?
Some of the common signs of improper wheel alignment are as follows:
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right
- Vehicle shaking or vibrating at higher speeds
- Bumpy rides
- A crooked steering wheel when your wheels are straight
- Excessive tire wear
While other conditions can cause some of these indicators, your alignment is the most common culprit and should be the first thing you have checked.
What Problems Will Improper Alignment Cause?
One indicator of misalignment is drifting or pulling to the left or the right. Many drivers often overcompensate for this by the way they hold their steering wheel, but this pulling can lead to accidents.
If your vehicle pulls to the left, it can pull you into oncoming traffic. If it is pulling to the right, it can pull you off of the road.
Misalignment also causes improper and excessive tire wear. Damaged or excessively worn tires can place you at risk of a flat or tire blowout.
Unaligned wheels are unsafe wheels. Don't take this risk and have your alignment checked.