Why Wheel Alignments Matter for Your Ride

July 20, 2017

Having your wheels aligned properly can not only increase your gas mileage but also lengthen the life of your tires. Your car service provider should be able to tell you how often you need your wheels aligned and whether you need just the front end or if all four wheels need adjusting. 

You can probably guess that it's time for an alignment if you find your vehicle drifting off to one side while driving and having to turn the steering wheel to keep moving straight.

This can be referred to pulling right or pulling left.

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How does gasoline use and mileage factor into alignment?

Uneven wheels can cost some gas mileage since they cause your tires to have more drag on the road. Friction and being aerodynamic while on the road can result in a difference in gas usage for your vehicle. 

On an ill-aligned vehicle, your tires are also affected. As your tires begin to wear unevenly, they shorten their operational lives and increase the possibility of a blowout while you’re on the road.

What caused my car to need an alignment in the first place?

Wheels can go out of alignment for a number of reasons. The most common reason is hitting an obstruction on the road. An example of this could be a sizeable pothole or a curb. If you experience this while on the road you might profit by taking your vehicle in for an adjustment. Normal wear and tear can also affect your wheel alignment.

What does an alignment include? 

A wheel alignment involves adjusting angles, called camber, caster and toe, relative to the vehicle’s body and to each other. Since a wheel alignment is often measured in fractions of inches, the procedure requires specialized equipment and a skilled technician trained in its use. Unfortunately, it's not an easy thing you can do at home in your garage.

Are wheel alignments expensive?

Compared to other repair bills, an alignment won't drain your wallet. An alignment will more than pay for itself in saved gas mileage and in the life of your tires. 

You can use the RepairPal estimator to figure out the price range an alignment will set you back for your specific car and the particular area you live in.

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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