It's not something you usually give much thought to as a car owner, but having your wheels properly aligned is very important. Improper alignment can affect the overall performance of your car, as well as the lifespan of your tires, brakes and suspension. It's vital that you have your alignment checked regularly and, if something is off, you'll want to get it corrected as soon as possible.
Signs of Poor Wheel Alignment
There are some common signs—or symptoms, if you will—that your vehicle's wheels may be out of alignment. One of the most obvious signs is if your car pulls strongly to the left or right when you are trying to drive straight. If your steering wheel is off-center when driving straight or you feel a lot of vibration, these are also typical signs of improper wheel alignment. One of the other most notable symptoms is if your tires show uneven wear. This can be caused by poor alignment, but that is just one culprit. Many other factors can contribute, so it is always a good idea to get your tires rotated every 5,000-6,000 miles no matter what.
What is Wheel Alignment?
In the simplest sense, proper wheel alignment means that all four wheels and tires are running level and in the exact same direction when the car is going straight. This means more even distribution of weight, which leads to better overall performance, less wear and potentially even better gas mileage. To understand more about wheel alignment, you'll want to know some of the common terms associated with it.
Camber refers to the inward or outward angle (vertically speaking) of the wheels/tires, when looking at your car head-on. If they are tilted too much inward or outward, your alignment will need to be fixed. Worn-out bearings, ball joints or other suspension components can lead to too much camber.
Toe refers to the inward or outward angle (horizontally speaking) of the wheels/tires, when looking at your car directly from the top or bottom. Think of it like walking pigeon-toed (feet pointing toward each other) or the opposite with your feet pointing away from each other. Neither are efficient methods for walking and too much toe is not good for your car either.
Caster refers to the steering axis of your wheels/tires, when looking at your car from the side angle. It's not something you can typically notice with the naked eye, but a professional will be able to detect if you have too much positive or negative caster. Proper caster helps you balance steering, stability and cornering.
How Often Should You Have Your Alignment Checked?
The typical recommendation is the same as tire rotation, which is every 5,000-6,000 miles. An alignment check is often standard with most tire rotation services, but always make sure it is being performed regularly. Odds are, alignment adjustments won't need to be made as often as tire rotations. It's just good practice to have the alignment checked often.
If your alignment is off, you will want to take it to an expert to have your wheels properly realigned. At Bill's Quality Auto Care in Simi Valley, we are known for our wheel alignment services. It is one of our biggest specialties. We understand how vital proper wheel alignment is and we take great care to make sure everything is precisely aligned. That way, you can rest assured that your car is performing better and you'll see less wear and tear on your tires, wheels, bearings, brakes and suspension.
To have your alignment checked or tires rotated, contact Bill's Quality Auto Care today and let us take care of the rest!