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how do you know if your wheels need alignment

How Do You Know if Your Wheels Need Alignment?

Posted at Thu, Oct 12, 2023 10:00 AM

Routine maintenance and servicing are crucial to keep your car running and handling as it should, and wheel alignment is no exception. It's important that your car's wheels are correctly aligned so that the vehicle drives and handles properly and you and your passengers can stay safe on Texas roads. 

Your wheels can get out of alignment during normal driving on uneven road surfaces, and you might not notice the gradual deterioration. But hitting a rock, curb, or pothole can cause serious misalignment. That's why you should have your wheels aligned regularly at a reputable tire center, such as ours at Planet Ford Dallas. 

how do you know your wheels need an alignmentWhy Have Your Wheels Aligned?

With properly aligned wheels, your tires should last thousands of miles. If your vehicle's wheel alignment is out, it can negatively affect your car's handling, compromising your safety. It also causes your tires to wear unevenly and prematurely, as they experience more friction with the road surface. That's going to cost you money to replace the tires earlier than would otherwise be necessary. You may also notice that the vehicle uses more fuel as your tires continually stray off a straight line. 

In addition, poorly aligned wheels can stress your car's suspension components. The wheels can become misaligned simply through everyday use on rough roads. However, if you strike a curb or a pothole at speed or get into a collision, it can severely throw out the alignment. If that happens, you'll need to bring your car to our tire center as soon as possible for an alignment check. 

What Is Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment is an adjustment to the car's suspension, which connects the wheels to the vehicle. It involves adjusting the angle of the wheels in relation to the car to ensure that the tires connect with the road straight and evenly. There are three types of wheel alignment: two-wheel, four-wheel, and thrust angle alignment.

Two-Wheel Alignment

A two-wheel or front-end alignment only adjusts the front wheels, as the rear suspension on many cars is not designed to be adjusted. The technician checks the camber, which is the angle, or tilt, of the wheel as viewed from the front, and the toe alignment, which is the angle of the wheels when viewed from above. 

Four-Wheel Alignment

Four-wheel alignment is usually performed on cars with all-wheel or four-wheel drive or vehicles with four-wheel independent suspension. It may also be done on front-wheel drive cars with an adjustable rear suspension. It's the most comprehensive type of alignment and aligns all the wheels according to the manufacturer's specifications.

Thrust Angle Alignment

Thrust angle alignment is typically performed on vehicles with an independent rear suspension. It ensures the rear axle is aligned with the car's center and the front axle. A mechanic performs front-end alignment to make sure that all the wheels align with each other.

How Do You Know if Your Wheels Need Aligning?

With gradual misalignment, you might not notice any signs initially, so it's wise to have regular alignment checks. If you don't address the issue, the problem will only worsen. As the wheels get out of line, several signs may tell you there's a problem, as discussed below.

Car Pulls to the Left or Right

If you're driving on a straight and level road and feel your car pulling to one side or the other, meaning you have to keep correcting the steering to travel in a straight line, it suggests that your wheels are out of alignment. You might expect a slight pull to the right when the road has a significant camber. But if the pull to the side is particularly pronounced, the problem is serious, and you need an urgent wheel alignment.

Steering Wheel Tilts Off-Center

Your vehicle's steering wheel should be dead center when driving in a straight line. Check the logo in the middle of the steering wheel to see whether it's straight. If you need to hold the wheel in a position that usually has your car veering off the road, you need a wheel alignment. 

Poorly aligned wheels can also cause the steering wheel to feel loose. If you don't feel an instant response from the tires when you turn the steering wheel, it could indicate a problem with the steering or the wheel alignment. Bring your car to our service center, and we'll check both for you.

Steering Wheel Vibration

If your steering wheel vibrates when you accelerate, wheel misalignment could be causing the wheels to pull against each other. As the problem worsens, the entire car can shake, making for an uncomfortable ride for you and your passengers. Several things can cause vibration, but wheel alignment is the first thing to have checked.

Squealing Tires

Your wheels' camber and toe adjustments help keep each wheel at the correct angle to the car and the road. When your wheels are out of alignment, adverse friction between the tires and the road can cause the tires to squeal as you accelerate and turn corners. 

Premature or Uneven Tire Wear

Inspect your tires regularly for tread depth and any damage or defects. If one side of a tire wears more than the other, you may have a wheel alignment issue. Uneven tire wear can have other causes, such as incorrect tire pressure. You should check the tire pressure every week and ensure that the tires are at the pressure that your vehicle's manufacturer recommends.

Ready To Book Your Wheel Alignment at Planet Ford Dallas?

If you haven't had your wheels aligned recently or noticed any of the above problems, schedule a wheel alignment service today at Planet Ford Dallas. If you're struggling to fit a service into your busy day, bring your car to our Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center at any time that suits you without the need to make an appointment. 

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