The Importance of Wheel Alignment
Alignment refers to all of the aspects that go into making sure that your wheels move forward in a straight line. Having all four of your wheels properly aligned is important not only for the performance of your car but also for your safety. Even a slight misalignment can cause you problems, which is why a wheel alignment should be part of your regular vehicle maintenance.
Causes Of Misalignment
When your wheels are aligned, all four are positioned parallel to each other, and they move forward in a straight line rather than pulling to one side or the other. Your vehicle’s suspension system is calibrated to provide proper alignment, but it doesn’t take much to throw this system off. Many factors can affect alignment, including frequent driving on a rough, unpaved road or hitting a large pot hole. The benefits of maintaining proper wheel alignment are numerous.
The most significant factor in terms of your car’s performance when your wheels are not aligned is the effect on the handling. This refers to your ability to maneuver the vehicle properly and with ease. With proper wheel alignment, your vehicle will move forward in a straight line. If your vehicle is pulling to the left or the right, you will have to constantly make steering adjustments to correct the pull; otherwise, your vehicle could cross into the other lane or run off the road.
Your steering may feel more loose than normal as well, which could cause you problems if you overcorrect when trying to maintain your vehicle’s position on the road. A misalignment may also cause your steering wheel to shake, making it harder to steer the vehicle.
When your vehicle is properly aligned, the surfaces of all four tires receive relatively equal wear, which prolongs the life of the tires. If the alignment of your suspension system is off, then one or more tires may wear unevenly due to the pull of the vehicle in a particular direction rather than a forward, straight motion. This can cause the treads of your tires to wear out more quickly, costing you money to have them replaced sooner than would normally be necessary. In addition, uneven wear can make your tires more susceptible to a blow out, which can be dangerous.
Any factor that hinders the momentum of your vehicle will make it less fuel efficient, as the engine has to work harder, using more gasoline. When your vehicle is pulling to the left or to the right rather than rolling steadily in a straight line, it creates resistance. This makes you use more gas, and with gas at astronomical prices these days, this is a problem that you likely can’t afford. A wheel alignment of all four wheels will correct problems with your front wheels, which are your steering wheels, as well as your back wheels, or your direction wheels. When all four are properly aligned, you won’t be creating resistance; this will help maintain the optimal fuel efficiency for your vehicle.