If you believe that proper wheel alignment is not as high a priority for your vehicle as, say, engine repair or transmission service, think again. That's the kind of thinking that can shorten the life of your vehicle, not to mention costing you a lot more in the long run. While failing transmissions or broken belts are certainly more acute problems, wheels that are out of alignment are silently eroding away the road life of your car, sowing seeds for a lot more "acute" problems in the future.
The truth is, wheel alignment is as much a part of proper auto repair and maintenance as changing the oil, and the cost of having it done is extremely low compared to the costs that can arise later from not having it done.
Benefits of proper wheel alignment
For a moment, let's forget about what improper alignment can do to your car, and let's look at what good things come from keeping the wheels aligned:
- Savings on fuel. When the wheels are out of alignment, it causes undue resistance as the wheels exert force against each other and against the road, causing the car to burn more fuel to achieve the same amount of speed. Properly aligned wheels reduce this friction, saving you potentially hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs.
- Extends tire tread life. The undue pressure caused by bad alignment causes the tire treads to wear unevenly (and more quickly). Adjusting the alignment regularly will prevent this, helping your tires last longer before you need to replace them.
- Optimizes other systems. You'd be surprised at how many other parts of your car can be affected (either positively or negatively) by the alignment: brakes, suspension, steering, etc. All these systems will endure less wear-and-tear and last longer just by keeping the wheels aligned.
- Safer on the road. When the car naturally "drifts" or "pulls" to one side (a common symptom of bad alignment), you obviously have less control of your vehicle. Proper wheel alignment helps you retain this control, making your car safer to drive.
When to have the alignment checked
As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to have the alignment checked every time you have your tires rotated (which should be about every 6000 miles or so, or as the manufacturer recommends for your car). Often, there are slight variations in the alignment that can be fixed right then. Otherwise, you should have the alignment checked in any of the following situations:
- If the car is pulling or veering. If your steering wheel is aiming forward and your car is veering left or right, the wheels are out of alignment.
- If the tire tread is uneven. If you notice the tread on your tires wearing down unevenly between left and right, alignment may be the issue.
- After driving over something large, or over extremely uneven road. Accidentally hitting a large pothole or driving over a curb, for example, can immediately throw the wheels out of alignment. If something like this happens, have the wheels checked.
If you're looking for a trustworthy auto repair shop in Vancouver, WA, look no further than David's Auto Repair. They've got a 15-year history of providing accurate and affordable auto diagnostics, service and repairs, with additional online special offers to help you save even more. For a free estimate on wheel alignment or other issues, they they can be reached.