Owning a car is more than just driving it off the lot: it comes with a truckload of responsibilities. Cars need to be regularly maintained and repaired if necessary. One of the crucial criteria to keep your vehicle in good running condition is proper wheel alignment. Sadly, it is also one of the most overlooked.
Lots of drivers are already dealing with different symptoms and indications of poor wheel alignment. They are often unaware that it can easily be fixed. Philkotse.com prepared some tips and handy guide on how to determine if your vehicle is due for a wheel alignment. Check it out below.
1. The steering wheel steer off the center
While driving on a straight, flat, and level road, the steering should sit as close to perfectly straight as possible. Usually, there will be a discrepancy but only a small amount.
It all depends on the crown of the road. All in all, the steering wheel should be centered and straight. Your car emblem should also level to you and in the steering wheel’s center.
If you are driving an off-center wheel, it's a clear indication that your vehicle needs a wheel alignment
Note that if you are driving an off-center wheel even if it’s only more than a few degrees in any direction – it is a clear indication that your vehicle needs a wheel alignment.
Doing so will bring back your vehicle’s steering wheel to the center. It will also improve the overall drivability of your car.
>>> Related: 7 Signs of a Bad Steering Wheel and How to Fix Them
2. The vehicle pulls sharply in one direction
This symptom is quite similar to the first one mentioned above. Vehicle pull can be more noticeable when driving on a straight and level road. Lots of people think that if you are driving on a straight path, it's perfectly okay to drive without holding the steering wheel.
You can do that only if we are living in a perfect world. However, in reality, all our roads have some degree of crowning, causing the car to pull to one side. Plus, if you completely remove your hands to the steering wheel, you’re putting your life at risk.
However, when you're driving on a straight road, the car should cruise ahead with little to no effort on the steering wheel.
If the vehicle is pulling to one side of the road, it's a clear sign that you need to check and correct the car's wheel alignment
If you’re driving and your vehicle is pulling to one side of the road, it is a clear sign that you need to check and correct the wheel alignment of your vehicle. A wheel alignment will improve the overall drivability of your car and correct the car's pull.
3. Uneven or abnormal tire wear
One way to know the condition of your vehicle is by checking its tire. Tire wear can tell so much about your vehicle. By simply looking at the tire wear patterns, most qualified technicians can identify or guess if the car has alignment, suspension, and tire pressure problems.
Check your tires and inspect if there are tire wear only on its outside or inside edges. If there is, it’s a clear indication of camber adjustment problems. If there is scalloping or feathering in your tires, it’s a usual symptom of a toe adjustment problem.
More often, the mechanic will notice tire wear when performing a service, inspection, and tire rotation. If you inspect abnormal wear patterns in your car's tires, you should start considering having a wheel alignment on your car. Aside from the proper tire alignment, it also provides other benefits, including longer tire life and even tire wear.
Tire wear can tell so much about your vehicle
4. Handling the car feels loose
If you notice that your car’s steering wheel feels unstable or a little loose, it can be because of a poor wheel alignment. The feel can feel as if you’re wandering all over the road while driving.
It can also feel sloppy or very loose around the corners. If you’re experiencing it in your car, whether you’re turning or driving straight, it’s time to check your vehicle’s wheel alignment and have it corrected accordingly.
If you notice that your car’s steering wheel feels unstable or a little loose, it can be because of a poor wheel alignment
5. The steering wheel doesn’t return to the center
After a complete turn, the car’s steering wheel should naturally bounce back to the center. Though it should return on its own, you still need to keep your hands on it to maintain control over the car.
However, if you start to notice that the steering wheel does not go back to its original position, it is a clear sign that you have misaligned wheels. In this case, you will need to have it checked and perform a full alignment if required.
If you notice that the steering wheel does not go back to its original position, it's a sign of misaligned wheels
>>> Related: Quick & easy guide to unlock your steering wheel
6. Vibrations on steering wheel
Another sign that you already need a wheel alignment is when you start feeling vibrations on the steering wheel. More often, this is because of unbalanced tires, but it can also be a sign that your vehicle is due for a wheel alignment. When it comes to alignment problems, the vibration is the result of the tires pulling in the opposite directions of each other.
What’s causing the wheels to be misaligned?
Bad roads will negatively affect your wheels. It is also considered as your wheel’s worst enemy. If you always drive on poorly maintained roads, hit a curb, or drive through potholes, it can misalign your wheels.
What’s causing the wheels to be misaligned?
These can cause even the tiniest and slightest alignment issues, which is the main reason why your tires are wearing unevenly and swiftly. It’s recommended to have your wheels aligned every 6,000 kilometers or as often as necessary.
What’s the importance of wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment is crucial because it ensures optimal car drivability. It is one of the best ways to maintain the longevity of your tires' life. It allows you to have smoother driving experience. It will ultimately keep your wheels pointed in the proper direction. Additionally, your vehicle will need lesser energy to keep it running, which means you can potentially save tons of fuel.
If you don't pay much attention to your wheel's alignment, it will shorten the life of your tires, and your alignment and steering parts will be compromised.