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Beginning Car Maintenance: Wheel Alignments

by Jacob Scott

When your mechanic suggests a wheel alignment, he means that he will adjust all four wheels to make sure that they're lining up properly with each other and with the road. If you're not sure what it means to have your car's alignment checked or adjusted, here are some questions you might be asking yourself. 

How Can I Tell if I Need an Alignment?

When your vehicle is out of alignment, it will actually let you know pretty quickly. One of the biggest ways to know that you need an alignment is that the car pulls either to the left or to the right when you're trying to go straight. If it feels that you're fighting the car to keep it going straight, you have an alignment issue. Another big indication that your car is out of alignment is that as you pick up speed, your car may start to vibrate. You'll feel it in the steering wheel, and the vibration may become quite violent if you're going over 50 miles per hour. A final place to look to verify that you need an alignment is your front tires. If there's a significant amount of wear on the inside or outside tread but not as much on the opposite side of the same tire, you have an alignment problem. 

Can't I Just Wait to Get an Alignment?

The short answer is that you really can't wait to get an alignment. The problem starts out simply enough with just pulling to one side or the other, but if your car is already vibrating and your tires are showing significant signs of uneven wear, you are in danger of having serious problems. Continuing to drive when your car is misaligned can lead to your tires blowing out, to your steering and suspension systems malfunctioning, and really bad gas mileage. Waiting just makes all of these problems more severe.

Why Did My Car Go Out of Alignment Anyway?

Unfortunately, there's no one answer for this question. Since your car is made up of lots of moving parts working together, sometimes those parts simply don't line up as well as they once did. Another big cause of cars going out of alignment involves hitting something with the car. This can be as small as a pothole, or it could involve being in an accident. Each time you hit a bump, your car runs the risk of going out of alignment.

Don't take unnecessary risks with your car's wheel alignment. If you haven't had yours checked recently, make an appointment today with professionals, such as those from D Wells Automotive Service.