Why is a wheel alignment so important?
Picture yourself cruising down the most beautiful road in the world. Now imagine driving down that same road with your wheels pointing the wrong way. Not the most beautiful road in the world anymore.
Alignment is a really complex topic covering a variety of terms and a smorgasbord of parts. When your wheels are out of alignment, your tires aren’t pointing in the right direction. This will affect your steering and suspension, but more importantly, it could affect your safety and the durability of your tires and all the parts controlling them.
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How do vehicles lose their wheel alignment?
It doesn’t take much, that’s for sure. There are many ways for your car to lose its alignment. You’ll be familiar with most of the causes, but what you probably didn’t think was that each one could do quite a number on your vehicle’s alignment.
Wheel alignment can be thrown off by:
- Hitting the curb
- Bumping into concrete parking stalls
- Fair wear and tear—as vehicles age, rubber components start cracking or lose their elasticity and ball and socket joints develop looseness. They start to give a little more, progressively getting slightly worse over time.
Alignment angles are measured in tenths and hundredths of degrees or inches. Over time, a slight misalignment can cause a lot of uneven or premature tire wear.
What happens if I don’t get my wheels aligned?
We cringe just thinking of someone never having an alignment performed on his or her vehicle. What will ultimately end up happening is you’ll throw a lot of money down the drain on tires because, without proper alignment, tires wear down a lot faster. Simple as that. And you’ll most likely notice something’s wrong while you’re driving; your vehicle will probably not handle as well as it should and, in the most extreme cases, you could have a pretty difficult time maintaining control of your ride altogether. All this bad news is, fortunately for you, easily preventable by having your wheels aligned when needed.
Did you know? The smartest move is to have your alignment checked every other oil change. Doing so will make your tires last longer.
Quick Tip: If your vehicle needs an alignment, ask for a Lifetime Alignment. With this service, we’ll align your tires every 6,000 miles or when requested for as long as you own your ride.
How often should I have my alignment checked?
Long live longer tire life. We recommend an Alignment Check with every other oil change. A lot happens over the course of 6,000 miles. You drive through potholes, travel down gravely stretches of road, or worse, knock your wheels on the curb while making a turn. All these things can impact the way your tires sit, throwing off alignment in an instant.
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Did you know? The longer you wait for an alignment, the more damage that can occur. You’d be surprised. If it’s been a while since your last alignment, it’s time for a checkup.
Do vehicles have different types of alignment specifications?
Every model that rolls off the assembly line has unique alignment specifications. Alignment specs are determined by the vehicle manufacturer for each make and model. The size, length, weight and intended use of the vehicle all play a role in the determining the correct alignment angles.
Did you know? We use a special computerized alignment machine pre-loaded with every vehicle’s alignment specifications. Once the vehicle type is determined, the high tech and precise measuring begin. Upon completion, you’ll receive a print out displaying the vehicle manufacturer’s alignment angle specifications, what your angles are before adjustments were made and where it stands after adjustments are made. At Firestone Complete Auto Care, we provide alignments for most any vehicle using this special equipment.
Why is it so hard to determine if my car’s alignment is off?
It’s not you, it’s your eyes. We mere humans can’t see in fractions of degrees without technology. It only takes a minuscule amount of misalignment to have a huge impact on tire life. So, signs and symptoms of poor wheel alignment, unfortunately, aren’t always right there staring you in the face.
How are alignments different today?
Alignments aren’t different per se, but vehicles are more advanced and precise now than ever before. And at today’s prices, we expect more from our rides, that’s for sure. Let’s just say a lot has changed since dad was driving that Oldsmobile. As a result, maintaining the ride and performance that modern vehicles are capable of, a proper alignment must take into account where the rear wheels are pointed.
There’s more vehicle variety on the road these days, too. Vehicles have different purposes. Some have rear steering capabilities. Some have stability controls or dynamic stability controls or active stability management or SAS (Steering Angle Sensors). Every car manufacturer is different and requires different methods to adjust each unique system.