Most vehicle and tyre manufacturers recommend having your vehicle’s wheel alignment checked every 6 months or 10,000km – whichever occurs first.
It is also recommended to have an alignment carried out if you hit a curb or pothole, as this can cause suspension and steering damage and also throw out the wheel alignment. The alignment of your vehicle’s wheels can affect the way it handles, as well as increase the wear and tear on your tyres, and cause it to pull in one direction or the other.
Symptoms that your vehicle requires a wheel alignment
- Check Tyre Wear
Check the air pressure in all of your tyres, because low air pressure could be causing similar problems. Although obvious, make sure your tires are the same size because that could cause drifting. Finally, check the wear on your tires since old tires could have wear and tear that affects your steering.
- The vehicle pulls to one side
If the vehicle pulls to one side excessively – it may need to have the wheel alignment checked. If the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other violently, this could be an indication of a failed or excessively worn steering or suspension component and should be checked by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
- The Steering wheel is not straight or centered
A steering wheel that is crooked or not centered is an indication of incorrect wheel alignment – usually a toe setting that is out. This can also be caused by worn steering components.
- Steering wheel vibration or shimmy
This issue is not usually caused by wheel alignment and is more likely caused by a failed steering or suspension component, a wheel balance issue, or slightly warped brake rotors.
- Vehicle noises
If you hear squeaking, creaking, knocking, or rubbing, that typically indicates a steering or suspension problem. The vehicle may require suspension or steering repairs and a wheel alignment would be required after these repairs.
Aligning your wheels is a relatively simple process, which requires the vehicle to be placed on a wheel alignment machine. This machine uses laser-guided measurements to allow the mechanic to set and adjust the suspension components back to the factory specifications.
Getting periodic wheel alignments will increase your tyre life, maintain the handling of your vehicle and find small problems with steering, suspension, and wheels before they become costly repairs!