Category Archives: car alignment

Should my car get an alignment? All your Alignment Questions Answered

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temporary construction road sign isolated on white backgroundPot holes, uneven pavement, bumps, ruts.  Our Wisconsin winters wreak havoc on our roads, which in turn takes it out on our cars, causing a host of problems.  If your car is showing the tell tale signs of imbalance, it’s time to think about scheduling an alignment for your car.  Here’s why—and everything else you should know about a car alignment.

What are the signs of a car that needs an alignment?

Usually, an unbalanced car has a vibration or shake that worsens as your car goes faster. The speed at which the vibration first becomes apparent varies depending on the size and weight of the tires, wheels and car, steering sensitivity and suspension, and the amount of car imbalance.  Typically, the shake starts at 35 to 45 mph and increases with your speed.  Other signs of a car that needs alignment include:

  • Uneven tire tread wear.
  • Car that pulls to the right or left.
  • Steering wheel that is not centered when driving straight.
  • Steering wheel vibration.

Why does my car need an alignment?

While you can drive with these issues, a car with alignment issues costs more to drive over time and can become a safety issue. A car without regular alignments wears through tires faster and may need suspension part repair and replacement. Driving your car with a shake or pull can also be a safety hazard when roads become slippery, such as in a heavy rain or when there is ice.

How do I choose a mechanic to align my car?

Every model of car needs a different, precise alignment so this is not something that can be done at home. Take your car to shop with a certified alignment technician who can give your car a full alignment:

  • Inspect your steering and suspension.
  • Check the condition and air pressure of your tires.
  • Adjust your camber, caster and toe angles (if adjustable) to the manufacturer’s specifications. (Additional parts and labor may be necessary on some vehicles – see your customer service advisor for details.)
  • Road test your vehicle to insure your alignment is complete.

How often does my car need an alignment?

Often, you can have your car alignment checked as part of regular spring or summer car maintenance. The amount of time between car alignments is dependent upon the amount of miles you put on your car.  In general, your car needs an alignment every 6,000 miles.  If you have more questions, contact your alignment shop or ask your mechanic at your next oil change.

Why does my car pull to the right (or left)?

does your car pull to the side of the roadA car that pulls hard to the right or left when driving or braking needs repair. Even if you can handle the pulling now, letting the problem go can lead to some unintended consequences such as other parts of your car wearing down, the cost of repair going up, and some very tricky driving on wet roads. While we can’t tell you what’s causing your car to pull to the right or left until you make an appointment, we can list some of the most common causes of a car that pulls to the right or left:

Alignment

It’s not that surprising, is it? Our Wisconsin winters wreak havoc on our roads, which in turn beats up on cars—from shifting pavement, potholes and ice that causes our car to slide and bump. The result: your tires and suspension are out of alignment (just like your body), which can cause other problems, including a car that pulls to the right or left.

While you can drive with these issues (not always safely!), a car with alignment issues costs more in the long run. A car without regular alignments needs tires more often (because tires wear faster) and needs more suspension part repair and replacement. More importantly, driving in a misaligned car can cause accidents especially during our icy, treacherous winter roads in Wisconsin. The fix for this problem? Schedule an appointment for a complete car alignment.

Brakes

The same parts of your car that make your car stop can also be the culprit when your car is pulling to the left or right. If a brake caliper is stuck, your car is going to pull to the side (right or left) with the caliper that is stuck. A cracked or broken brake hose can also cause your car to pull to the left or right, as well as a host of other brake issues.

Often, you can tell if your brakes are the issue if your car pulls to the left or right while braking. To find out, schedule an appointment with your mechanic. A mechanic can pull off your tires and inspect your brakes.

Tires

There are a million different reasons why your tires could be to blame for your car pulling to the left or right. Tires with different air pressures on each side can cause a car to pull. If you think your tire pressure may differ from side to side, use our step-by-step instructions to check the air pressure of each of your tires.

Uneven tire wear can also make your car favor one side of the road. To correct this issue, have your mechanic rotate your tires, and keep them on a regular tire rotation schedule (usually at the same time as your regular oil change). If your tires are wearing incredibly unevenly, ask your mechanic to check to see if they need to be replaced and if your car is properly aligned. There are other tire issues that can cause your car to pull to the right, so make sure you make an appointment to get your issues diagnosed and repaired.

Suspension parts

Tire rods, wheel bearings, bushings, struts…the list of suspension parts that could be causing your car to pull can go on and on. There are few ways for the layperson to diagnose a worn suspension part, so make sure to schedule an appointment with your mechanic.

When taking your car in for an appointment, make sure you can describe when your car is pulling to the right or left. Does your car pull to the side when braking? Or does the issue happen when accelerating? A mechanic can do a full inspection of your car, diagnose your problem, and give you a quote to get your car going straight—and you on the road safely.

Why does my car need an alignment?

alignment keep cars going straight down the road
If your car is pulling to the side of the road, it’s time for an alignment.

Ever been to a chiropractor because your back is “out of wack”? Or have an injury because your body is misaligned? Just as your muscles, bones and joins can have issues from daily walking, sitting, running and jumping, your car is also prone to more severe problems from daily wear and tear of driving.

It’s not that surprising, is it? Our Wisconsin winters wreak havoc on our roads, which in turn beats up on cars—from shifting pavement, potholes and ice that causes our car to slide and bump. The result: your tires and suspension are out of alignment (just like your body), which can cause other problems:

  • Uneven tire tread wear.
  • Car that pulls to the right or left.
  • Steering wheel that is not centered when driving straight.
  • Steering wheel vibration.

While you can drive with these issues (not always safely!), a car with alignment issues costs more in the long run. A car without regular alignments needs tires more often (because tires wear faster) and needs more suspension part repair and replacement. More importantly, driving in a misaligned car can cause accidents especially during our icy, treacherous winter roads in Wisconsin.

Every model of car needs a different, precise alignment so this is not something that can commonly be done at home. Just like you wouldn’t trust your body to an amateur to adjust your alignment, you shouldn’t trust your car alignment to just anyone. Take your car to Tire-rifik, where a certified alignment technician can perform a full car alignment:

  • Inspect your steering and suspension system.
  • Check your tire condition and air pressure.
  • Adjust your camber, caster and toe angles, if adjustable, to the manufacturer’s specifications. (Additional parts and labor may be necessary on some vehicles – see your customer service advisor for details)
  • Road test your vehicle to insure your alignment is a straight forward alignment.

An unbalanced car typically has a vibration or shake that becomes progressively worse as the car’s speed increases. The speed at which the vibration first becomes apparent varies depending on the size and weight of the tires and wheels, the size and weight of the car, the sensitivity of the steering and suspension, and the amount of imbalance. The vibration or shake usually starts in at 35 to 45 mph and increases in intensity as your speed increases.

Talk to your mechanic about how often your car needs an alignment, and keep it on a regular schedule. Often, you can have your car alignment checked as part of your spring car maintenance or car work before winter. The amount of time between car alignments is dependent upon the amount of miles you put on your car, as a car alignment is recommended every 6,000 miles.

Spring Car Maintenance

engineWinter is hard on a car. That’s why it’s your job as a responsible car owner to take spring as an opportunity to get your car inspected and ready for the next hard season for your car, summer (yes, it will come someday Wisconsin, be patient). Spring is the time to get your faithful tires checked after a hard winter of driving, your car aligned after sliding into a pole, and to get other important components of your car checked, corrected and ready for summer:

Alignment. Hard winter driving can knock your car’s alignment off, causing your tires to wear unevenly and need replacement prematurely. If your car pulls to the left or right, your steering wheel does not stay straight when driving or your tires wear unevenly, your car needs an alignment. A car with alignment issues wears through tires faster and has more costs due to undue wear on suspension parts.

Tire wear. Have an experienced mechanic check your tires to see that they wear evenly, and the amount of tread wear left. If the tire wear is low, your tires need to be replaced. If your tires are wearing unevenly, your car needs an alignment to prevent future breakdowns from undue wear on suspension parts.

Battery. Believe it or not, the Wisconsin heat is harder on batteries than winter cold. If your batteries are low from hard starts during winter, or shows one of these other signs of a dying battery, the summer heat is about to leave you stranded from a low battery.

Brakes. If your brakes are making any of these noises, it’s time to replace the pads or rotors that you need to safely stop. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet, but just as often your brakes are worn and in need of replacement. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.

Air filter. A clogged air filter can affect the performance of your car. While an air filter is not something that needs to be necessarily replaced at every spring car maintenance check (though it may need to depending on your driving conditions), an air filter should be inspected regularly.

Don’t forget to check your windshield wipers and headlights so you have optimal visibility. Call or email for an appointment today to have a mechanic inspect those two key parts of your car, and get the rest of your spring car maintenance done before Wisconsin’s spring showers and summer thunderstorms hit. Remember, April showers may bring May flowers, and also car breakdowns and accidents if you car doesn’t get the annual spring car maintenance and inspections it needs.