The Benefits of a Front End Alignment
While many car owners would not even consider going too long between oil changes, and they check the fluid levels in their vehicles regularly, getting a front end alignment is an often overlooked, but equally important, part of regular vehicle maintenance. Having your car pull to one side or the other is something that many drivers consider nothing more than a minor annoyance, not realizing that having their wheels misaligned affects the performance of the car, reduces fuel efficiency, wears out the tires more quickly, and poses threats to safety.
When a vehicle’s wheels are properly aligned, the wheels roll forward in a straight motion parallel with each other. This makes your car easier to drive, as you don’t have to fight with the car to keep it on the road. When the front end is not aligned properly, it makes steering considerably more difficult. Because the vehicle is constantly pulling in one direction rather than going straight, the driver must pull the wheel in the opposite direction to keep the vehicle going in a straight line. This is more than just a nuisance, as it can cause irregular wear and tear to the suspension of the vehicle, causing big problems down the road.
Your suspension system was designed to steer your wheels forward in a straight line parallel with the frame and body of the vehicle, which improves momentum and reduces resistance. When your vehicle is in need of a front end alignment, your wheels are not moving as they should be, which affects your momentum. This drag causes your car’s engine to work harder to maintain speed, and this burns up more of your gas. With the ever increasing price of gas per gallon, you don’t want anything to hinder your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Tire Wear And Tear
Normal driving with proper alignment of your wheels provides even wear on the treads of your tires. If one or more of your tires is pointing even slightly inward or outward, it will affect the wear of the treads. This will cost you, as you will need to replace your tires sooner than normal. In addition, the signs of an improper alignment are clear on tire treads, and if your tires are under warranty, uneven tread wear due to misalignment will likely void your warranty. You’ll still need to get your front end alignment performed, but you’ll need new tires also.
If the numerous ways in which improperly aligned wheels will cost you money are not enough to convince you of the importance of front end alignment, consider the safety factor. It is easy to over or under-correct the steering when trying to keep your car on the road because it is pulling to one side. This could cause you to collide with another vehicle or to run off the shoulder of the road, or worse. If weather conditions are adverse, steering is already tricky. Steering problems due to misalignment put you at a greater risk of having an accident. The uneven tire wear can also be dangerous, as your tires may be more prone to a flat or a blow out if they have worn unevenly or on the sides.