People need to be concerned about wheel alignment for two primary reasons: safety and money. When your wheels are out of alignment, they can pull to one side. A moment of inattention could put you into on-coming traffic or off the road. And a bad alignment will chew up your tires very quickly.
We had one guy in the shop who said his wheels were a little out of alignment before a family vacation, but he didn’t think it was that bad, so he didn’t take care of it before he left. A couple of days and a thousand miles later, his front tires were worn down to the cords. He had to take a half-day out of his mountain vacation to find a town big enough to have a tire center for replacements.
All four wheels are supposed to be lined up and point in the same direction. Sometimes one or more go out of alignment and are pulling against the rest of the team. In addition to excessive tire wear, this also hurts fuel economy.
Part of the alignment service is an inspection of the steering and suspension components. Whatever caused the wheels to be knocked out of alignment in the first place may have also damaged important parts. So, we want to be sure to replace broken or bent parts as needed.
The process corrects the alignment of each wheel along three axes (toe, camber, and caster) as well as front to rear alignment.
Your owner’s manual may have a recommendation for how often alignment should be checked. If not, ask your service advisor. Here are some things to look for that should get you in for an alignment check right away:
Your vehicle is pulling to one side, your steering wheel isn’t centered, you feel a vibration at speed, or you see unusual tire wear.