The Warning Signs of Bad Wheel Alignment
Having the wheels on your car aligned properly can drastically affect its performance. It may not seem terribly inconvenient for regular driving, but if you find yourself in an emergency situation or have to make a sharp turn at high speed, wheel alignment can be the difference between life and death. Luckily, your car will give you many hints that it’s time to get a re-alignment done, so keep an eye out for symptoms that your car isn’t quite right, and do something if an obvious issue emerges. The following are tell-tale signs that you should have your wheel alignment checked.
If your car drifts to one side a little when you are driving on a flat road, you may have a problem with your wheel alignment. If the drifting is only slight and towards the gutter, it may simply be that the roads are banked, which is common, and there may be nothing wrong with your alignment. A significant wheel alignment problem will cause your vehicle to drift significantly to one side — even against the slope if it’s bad enough.
Off-centre steering wheel
You can often tell that your wheel alignment is out just by looking at the steering wheel, as if it is off centre, you likely have a wheel alignment issue.
If your steering wheel vibrates when you are driving, it can mean that your wheel alignment or balance is out. The vibration may be caused by your wheels having been knocked out of alignment, which can often be the result of hitting a pothole. The vibrating may be the precursor to a bigger, more serious problem, so get it checked out before it gets worse.
Uneven tyre wear
If your wheel alignment is out, often it will be reflected in wear rates among your tyres, as poor alignment will cause some parts of the wheel to wear far quicker than others. A good way to tell is by measuring the depth of the rubber on each side of each tyre. If the wheels are aligned properly they will all be the same, but if there is a discrepancy by wearing on the inside or the outside, you may have a wheel alignment issue.
If your steering feels kind of loose or wanders a little around the road, this can be another sign of a wheel alignment issue. Your car should have a relatively direct feel and response to the direction that you are pointing it, so even if it’s not exactly drifting, if it is anything but direct, have the wheel alignment looked at by your mechanic.
Considering the speeds you are sometimes moving at in your car, making sure that your wheels are always pointing the right way is a pretty important consideration. If your car’s steering hasn’t been feeling as direct and responsive as you’d like, or if the look or your tyres is starting to worry you a little, have a car service done and get your wheel alignment checked. If the problem is the wheel alignment, once it is fixed you’ll feel like you are driving a new car.