You may have noticed lately that your car is pulling to one side or the other. Or, maybe the steering wheel has developed an annoying habit of not staying centered even when you’re pointing the car straight ahead. Or, you might have noticed that the tread is completely worn off of some spots on your tires, even though it’s too soon to need new tires. It may be time for a wheel alignment, a fairly inexpensive adjustment that can save you from premature tire replacements and frustrations with some of your car’s behaviors.
Save money on gas and tires. Schedule a wheel alignment service appointment today at Ace Auto Repair.
Topics covered on this page…
- Wheel Alignment
- Benefits of Wheel Alignment
- Importance of Wheel Alignment
- Car Alignment Symptoms
- Signs You Need an Alignment
- Types of Wheel Alignment
- Wheel Alignment Cost
- Wheel Alignment Near Me
What is a Wheel Alignment for a Vehicle?
Wheel alignment is an adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension components, performed in order to bring the direction of its wheels back to a square angle with the centerline of the vehicle’s chassis. There are significant consequences of neglecting necessary wheel realignments, including awkward handling, reduced fuel efficiency, and especially very rapid, abnormally extreme wear on areas of the affected tires.
What are the Benefits of Wheel Alignment?
There are some very important benefits of continuously maintaining your car or truck’s suspension in proper alignment. All these particular benefits are fundamental to the safety, performance, and fuel efficiency of your vehicle, and to protecting your tires from abnormally excessive wear. The major benefits of proper alignment include:
- Enables proper handling of the vehicle while driving
- Improves driving safety, by enabling better handling
- Allows a normal rate of wear on tires
- Facilitates normal efficiency of fuel use
- Contributes to optimum overall vehicle performance
- Reduces resistance of pavement against tires, for smoother riding
Why are Wheel Alignments Necessary?
Wheels that are not properly aligned on a car or truck can cause the vehicle to drift or pull to the left or right. Having the errant suspension parts adjusted to realign the wheels, eliminates risks of potential accidents from driving a vehicle that is not handling properly because of wheel misalignment. Uneven and extreme wear on tires, due to the increased road friction caused by misalignment of wheels also leads to preventable high costs of premature tire replacements and fuel waste.
How Will I Know if My Car Needs a Wheel Alignment?
The only way to be sure that your vehicle does or does not currently need a wheel alignment is to have a trained auto service technician perform a check using a machine designed for assessing alignment. But, here are some indicators that your vehicle might need a car alignment:
- You feel your vehicle pulling to the right or left while driving.
- The car or truck is not handling as well as usual.
- One or more tires wearing unevenly and severely in certain areas.
- The steering feels loose or crooked.
- The steering wheel is not centered when the car is going straight forward.
NOTE: If noise is associated with wheel misalignment, it is typically caused by unusual wear on the tires. This means that the tires are actually the cause of the road noise. So, when tires have become abnormally worn and are causing road noise in this way, having a wheel alignment is necessary, but the alignment will not remedy the problem of noise caused by the already distorted tires.
Signs You Need an Alignment
Routine wheel alignments should be included in periodic auto maintenance. This will allow you to correct any slight misalignment before some areas of one or more tires become abnormally worn. Becoming misaligned usually happens gradually, so have the alignment checked at least once per year, or twice per year if the roads you normally drive have a lot of potholes, ruts, or bumps. Here are some of the common reasons why wheels need realignment:
- Gradual settling — Normal settling of a vehicle’s suspension system, as well as the loss of tension in springs and of resilience in rubber bushings (which cushion against movement and reduce noise), can lead to an eventual need for car realignment.
- Impact — Hitting a bump or pothole, or swiping a tire against a curb, or driving over debris, or other jolting events can cause wheels to be forced out of alignment.
- Driving aggressively — Abusing the car’s suspension can affect wheel alignment.
- Carrying heavy weight — Carrying loads can cause worn out or even bent suspension components, such as strut mounts, bearing plates, tie rods, and/or ball joints, which can cause wheel misalignment.
- A minor auto accident — A small impact with another vehicle or an animal, or an object can knock wheels out of alignment.
- Lifting or lowering the car — Having the vehicle lifted or lowered while inspecting or working on it can affect alignment.
- Working on the suspension or steering — Replacing parts of the suspension or steering system can result in misalignment of wheels.
Types of Wheel Alignment
There are three types of wheel alignment. Your auto service technician will advise what kind of alignment is best for your vehicle type:
- Standard Alignment — This is a front-end alignment. It’s the most basic alignment. However, this type of alignment is not recommended for current model vehicles of any make or model, as it is less accurate than more advanced alignments because it does not ensure alignment of rear wheels.
- Thrust Alignment — Thrust alignment is more accurate than front-end alignment only, for vehicles that do not have rear suspension systems that are adjustable. The front wheels are aligned with the average trajectory of the two rear wheels, which is called the thrust line.
- 4 Wheel Alignment — All four wheels of the vehicle are aligned with the centerline of the vehicle. 4 wheel alignment is the most accurate method of wheel alignment, and is the most recommended approach by manufacturers for vehicles that have adjustable rear suspension.
The majority of vehicles on the road today are alignable at all four wheels, whether they’re rear-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, or 4-wheel-drive. If a vehicle can have all four wheels aligned, then all four wheels should be aligned, to ensure the greatest possible accuracy.
How Much Does a Wheel Alignment Cost?
The cost of a wheel alignment typically depends on the vehicle type, the kind of alignment you have done, the auto shop’s pricing policies, the region of the country where you have the service performed.
All reputable auto service shops inform car owners of which alignment type is best for their particular kind of vehicle and how much it will cost prior to starting any work. To find out if the alignment is covered under your vehicle warranty, check your owner’s manual for the warranty commitments.
At Ace Auto Repair, we provide visual alignment inspections free of charge. If we recommend having a wheel alignment done, but then discover during the work that the alignment is actually good and cannot be improved by the process, there is no charge to our customer.
Where Can I Get a Wheel Alignment Near Me?
Ace AutoRepair is a family-owned auto service center in West Jordan Utah, specializing in repairs for all makes and models of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs. We serve our customers throughout the greater Salt Lake City area. We offer all three kinds of wheel alignment services and free assessments of wheel alignment.
All mechanics on our team of top professionals are ASE Certified and keep up to date on vehicle and service industry advancements and other relevant changes. All our service work is guaranteed!