10 Signs you need a Wheel Alignment for your Car
Wheel misalignment can lead to uneven wear on your tyres, seriously impairing their performance and putting you at risk of a tyre blow out. Not only this, but misaligned wheels also have poor fuel economy due to increased resistance with the road.
The rate at which your the wheels of your vehicle become misaligned can be affected by road surface issues such as potholes - but if you regularly drive on uneven terrain (in a 4x4, for example), this can lead to wheel misalignment - even in vehicles specifically designed for offroading. Here are 10 signs you need a wheel alignment - and what to look out for.
Signs of Wheel Misalignment
There are a number of signs of wheel misalignment to look out for. If you see any of these, it’s important to take your vehicle to your local tyre fitters as soon as possible.
1. Pulling or Drifting
If you find your vehicle is drifting or pulling to one side of the road, this can be a sign of wheel misalignment that needs addressing. One way to test this is by briefly letting go of the steering wheel whilst driving on a flat surface (it’s important to do this in safe surroundings, for example an empty car park).
If there is only minimal drifting, it could be that the roads are sloped (this can either be due to road maintenance or a road intentionally sloped for drainage purposes). A significant degree of drifting could be a sign that you need to take your vehicle to a nearby specialist.
2. Uneven Tread
One sign to look for is uneven tread depth on your vehicle’s tyres - so it’s worth checking your tyres to make sure the tread is even all round (typically tyre wear should be distributed both on the inner and outer edges of the tyre).
3. Squealing Tyres
Misaligned tyres also have a tendency to squeal when the vehicle makes turns or speeds up. Much like vehicle shaking, uneven wear and wheel vibration, this can also be a sign of other potentially dangerous underlying issues (in this case, worn brake pads are a possibility). In any case, it’s important to have your vehicle checked.
4. Vibrating Steering Wheel
Vibrating steering wheels can be a sign of misaligned wheels due to the vehicle hitting an obstacle like a curb or pothole. This can also potentially be a sign of a more serious issue with your vehicle - so it’s important to get this checked out as soon as possible.
5. Off-Centre Steering
If your steering wheel is off-centre (this can feel as though you are gradually turning to one side), this can be due to wheel misalignment - though it tends to be located at the front-end only rather than on all four wheels.
To fix this issue, a mechanic will typically adjust the front tie rods to reduce any pulling on the steering wheel. This then alters the position of the wheels in relation to the steering column in order to pull them in line with the back tyres.
While this can help resolve directional pull, this method can potentially lead to “off-tracking”or “dog-tracking”, where the vehicle travels slightly angled to one side. Not only can this impact fuel economy - it can also be dangerous, as it can significantly alter the handling and performance of your vehicle.
7. Loose Steering
Another sign of wheel misalignment can be loose steering. Normally steering should feel responsive and relatively “firm” - but if you find that your vehicle’s wheels are not responding to steering as they should, you should get this checked by your local mobile tyre fitting specialist as soon as possible.
Wheel misalignment can occur in various directions. This is known as “camber”, which refers to the angle of the wheel when the car is viewed from the front. Negative camber is where the wheel leans into the car with the bottom of the wheel further away. Positive camber occurs where the top part of the wheels lean out.
9. Toe-in and Toe-out
Toe-in and toe-out (also known as tracking) refers to similar camber issues occurring with the rear wheel. This can have a major impact on the car’s ability to sustain straightforward motion and the angle at which the tyres wear down. This can also change according to the speed of the vehicle.
This refers to the angle of the pivot connecting to the wheel by two upper and lower points. This pivot turns the wheel and should be stacked vertically between the two points.when looking at the wheel straight-on and from the side of the vehicles, rather than leaning forward or back.
Misaligned casters can cause steering to either feel “sticky” or too loose - and it’s important to get this addressed, particularly if you own a front-wheel drive vehicle, as caster misalignment can lead to suspension damage in this particular type of vehicle.
How Wheel Misalignment is Addressed
Rather than allow the issue to worsen, you should address the issue as soon as you notice any signs that you need a wheel alignment. Regular maintenance and checks can help boost tyre longevity, reduce fuel and energy costs while improving comfort and handling.
Assessing and fixing wheel misalignment typically involves an initial diagnostic performed alongside a visual inspection of the steering system, tyres wear and suspension components.
Finally, a test drive is taken to check that the wheels are properly aligned. Regular wheel alignment checks should be made at least annually - but if you notice any signs of wheel misalignment, your local tyre fitting specialists can help.
Use Our Wheel Alignment Service In Manchester
Do you need wheel alignment in Manchester? We have a specialist 3d wheel alignment machine to get you perfectly straightened out. You can drop in or give us a call on 0800 002 5955