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Sep 26, 2016

Does Your Car Have Alignment Issues?

Posted By in Car Tips | No Comments »

Have you ever felt that the steering wheel of your car is pulling you to one side while you were driving, as if trying to force you to go elsewhere than where you’re actually headed? A supernatural force has not invaded your vehicle—more likely, your car was having alignment problems.

Car Alignment Problems

How does misalignment happen, and what does it do?

How does a car alignment problem happen? There are a bunch of ways. Going over potholes can do a number on your car’s alignment. Bumping the curb or into concrete parking stalls can do the same. The alignment problem could also be caused by your regular wear and tear—as the car ages, rubber components tend to crack and lose their elasticity, and socket joints become loose.

When your car’s wheels are out of alignment, the tires are not pointing in the right direction, and that affects the steering and the suspension. Down the road (pun intended), this situation may undermine the durability of your tires and your safety.

Detecting wheel misalignment

Here are some more tell-tale signs that your car’s alignment is out of whack:

  • You feel a vibration in the steering wheel.
  • Your tires show an abnormal level of wear. (Normal tire wear shows on the front tires as cupping on the outside edges, but if there is misalignment, other wear patterns are noticeable, such as wear on the inside and/or outside edges of tires.)

What to do

If you do suspect a misalignment problem, there are a few DIY tests you can do.

  • Try letting go of the steering wheel as you drive in a straight line on a flat surface (in an area devoid of cars and people, of course). If your car immediately steers to one side or the other, you were right, the wheels are misaligned.
  • Try listening to your car. Drive it slowly and listen for any grinding, scraping or whining sounds—these may be caused by the tire tread rubbing against the road.
  • Ask a friend to follow your car to check out the front to back wheel alignment. If the front wheels are not tracking in the same groove as the back, there may be a bent frame. Have your friend observe you as you drive the car in a weaving pattern—they may notice a leaning in the tires, or hear the wheel bearings make noises.

It’s not just a matter of an annoying and bumpy ride when your car has a misalignment issue. It’s also a question of safety, as well as economics. A rule of thumb is to have your alignment checked every other oil change. And since the alignment process varies depending on the vehicle, this service is best left to the professionals.


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