Wheel alignment is crucial to both the tires and the general maintenance of a vehicle. Bad wheel alignment can result in premature and uneven wearing out of tires. Poor alignments can result in partial or total loss of control of a vehicle; this is by far why it’s crucial to have a vehicle aligned by a specialist with years of experience in the industry.
Typically, when a vehicle’s wheels are poorly aligned, the tires point in a wrong direction or angle. Although wrong alignments affect the performance of both the suspension and the steering, it is not safe to drive in a car that’s wrongly aligned.
How do wheels get misaligned?
It takes just a slight mistake to affect a car’s wheel alignment. Basically, a few actions can result in improper wheel alignment, they include:
- Driving fast over potholes
- Hitting a curb
- Driving into concrete parking blocks
- Basic wear and tear – As a car age, its rubber parts tend to dry and crack and this makes ball and socket joints to loosen and the condition degenerates if left unattended.
To have a basic idea of how much impact damage can be, alignments are calculated in tenths and hundredths of degrees. Once a vehicle’s wheels aren’t well aligned, the damage can build up over an extended period if left that way.
How regular should a vehicle’s alignment be examined?
A vehicle’s alignment should be checked after each oil change. After driving for long periods of time, lots of changes can happen to a car. For this reason, checking a car’s alignment after driving 6,000 miles is vital even with normal driving speed. It is important to note that delaying car alignment of a car when the wheels are out of order can create more problems.
How can one notice when a car’s wheels aren’t aligned?
Most times, one can only tell if a car’s wheels aren’t well aligned by observing the parking angles of the tires. Although, most of the times, it is not possible to tell if a car’s wheels are not properly aligned by simply staring at them.
It may be difficult to observe if a car’s wheels are on an angle, however, the wear pattern on the tire can give hints about the state of the vehicle’s alignment.
Feathering – tires wear occurs when the tread is plain on one side and good on the other.
Camber Wear – This wear pattern occurs when either the interior or exterior of the tread is seriously more worn than the center.
Care should be taken to avoid serious problems with wear and safety. Improper wheel alignment is like a snowball rolling down the slope of a hill, it may start very little but as it gathers momentum, the problem created can become larger and larger if not corrected. This is by far the reason a vehicle’s wheels should be properly aligned so greater problems do not arise.