In simple terms, if your wheels are no longer properly aligned, they no longer point in the right direction. You may notice your steering wheel is no longer straight when you travel straight down the road. Or you may notice your vehicle pulling off to one side or vibrating as the wheels, no longer working in harmony, fight one another and literally try to drive off in different directions.
Although wheel alignments are something that can happen slowly over time, most often it takes something unusual to suddenly knock your wheels off kilter. Aggressive driving habits can contribute, or a tendency to neglect your car until something breaks catastrophically. Or something simple and innocent like scrubbing a curb as you park.
Once your vehicle falls out of alignment, your tires can no longer roll smoothly down the road. Instead, they literally get dragged slightly sideways as two or more fight each other for control. This will dramatically speed up the wear of your tires and other suspension and steering components which will cost you serious money and, more importantly, control of your vehicle.
How many of these common causes of wheel misalignment have you encountered?
Everyone hits a curb at one point or another. Whether it’s a gentle bump as you pull into a tricky driveway or a bad jolt from sliding into a curb during particularly slippery winter driving, it can be enough to throw a tire (or two) out of alignment.
Zooming over speed bumps
Speed bumps are a reminder to slow down and be alert to road conditions ahead. But when you ignore them and hit them with excessive speed, your suspension will be jarred and your wheels could be knocked out of alignment.
When a wheel hits a pothole, the force of the impact pushes the wheel—and the suspension—both backward and upward. That means the wheel, the suspension and the steering receive a serious shock. The amount of damage depends on your tire, the size of the pothole, and your speed, so always try to take them slowly.
Getting into an accident
Even the smallest fender bender can knock your alignment off kilter. Keep in mind that alignment issues aren’t always obvious right away. They tend to get worse and more advanced over time, so after any accident watch for the warning signs, no matter how subtle they may seem.
Every vehicle’s service schedule includes realignment services of course, but it’s important to understand those are scheduled to prevent your alignment from falling out over time, assuming that nothing else unusual has occurred.
If you’ve encountered any of the above road hazards, play it safe. Click the SERVICE button below and schedule a 4-wheel alignment for your vehicle.