5 Warning Signs That a Vehicle Might Be Out of Alignment

5 Warning Signs That a Vehicle Might Be Out of Alignment

Your vehicle’s alignment is crucial to your safety. Your vehicle is designed so that it goes where you aim the tires with the steering wheel. If your alignment is out-of-whack, then the vehicle will go in another direction instead of where you direct it. Even if that course differs by just a few degrees, it can be dangerous. There are three chief aspects to a vehicle’s alignment: camber, caster, and toe-in. Camber is how much the wheels are set to tilt in. Caster is the angle between the front struts and both the front and rear of the vehicle, and, toe-in is how much the front tires are titled on a vertical axis toward the center of the vehicle. If any or all of these are off, then the vehicle is out of alignment. Here’s what to look for to see if you need alignment work on your vehicle.

1. A Drifting Vehicle

On a flat road, if the car drifts one way or the other when you’re not holding the steering wheel, then something is out. In severe cases, you’ll feel the pull even as you’re driving. Because this could swerve you into oncoming traffic, it’s a serious situation that should be corrected immediately.

2. Uneven Tire Wear

A vehicle’s alignment is set in such a way that it will sit flat on its tires on a flat surface. The adjustments skew the wheels slightly so that the known weight of the vehicle compensates and makes the tires flat. Uneven tire wear indicates that the weight of the vehicle affects one or more sections of the tire unevenly. Though bothersome, this situation is not nearly as serious as having the vehicle pull from one side to the other.

3. Abnormal Steering-Wheel Vibrations

Your vehicle should drive smoothly. If there are weird vibrations, strong or not, of the steering wheel, then it’s likely the caster that’s most likely out. Again, it’s an annoyance, but it should still be corrected, which will save wear and tear on both tires and the other components that comprise your vehicle’s wheel system.

4. Squealing Tires

In certain instances, your vehicle being out of alignment will result in more downward force being put on your tires. This will create extra resistance, and when the engine overcomes that resistance, the tires could spin, causing the squealing. Obviously, this causes extra tire wear, but it also contributes highly to the fifth and final general warning sign of poor vehicle alignment.

5. Poor Fuel Economy

A poor vehicle alignment affects your vehicle’s mileage. The tires will grip too much, or the vehicle will drift and need to be forced back to the center of the lane. In either case, the engine has to work harder to drive the vehicle, resulting in poorer mileage.
The minimum for having a wheel alignment done is about every two or three years. Still, for the best possible safety, it’s recommended to have it done at every oil change. It’s always best to reach out to a professional car service to have it done properly.