Pot 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.