How To Tell If The Alignment Is Off On Your Car And What To Do About It


The wheel alignment on the front end of your car or truck is critical. The front suspension and steering components affect the alignment and the vehicle handling, so if you suspect the car has a problem, taking it to an alignment shop is an excellent place to start.

Signs Of Misalignment

When the front wheel alignment is out of spec, you may notice some changes to the vehicle that should prompt you to have the front end inspected right away. If the car starts to pull to one side or the other, you may have a low tire. However, if you check the tire pressures and the vehicle is pulling after filling the tires, you most likely have an alignment issue stemming from worn parts in the front end.

In some situations, the tires will have odd wear patterns on the tread, the front end may shake when you apply the brakes, and you may hear strange noises from under the vehicle. In each of these situations, different things could be the cause, so a full inspection is the best way to uncover the problem and identify all the worn parts to ensure repairs are made to the entire suspension and steering system.

Alignment Checks

When you take your car to a wheel alignment shop for an inspection, the tech will look over the front end and put the vehicle on the alignment rack to see if the front end is out of spec. In most cases, the repair shop will recommend repairing loose ball joints, tie rods, and tie rod ends before trying to align them. However, if the front suspension and steering are in good shape, the alignment and some adjustments may be all the vehicle needs.

The alignment rack uses a computer, some alignment guides on the wheels, and a laser to find the precise precision of the tires and wheels. The adjustments necessary may be minor, but ignoring them often leads to more significant problems later. 

The toe, castor, and camber are all critical to how the car goes down the road, and often even slight variations can cause handling issues. Each of these settings changes the wheel position, causing it to lean in or out at the top or sides and changing the angle of the suspension in relation to the steering. 

After the wheel alignment is complete, you will notice a big difference in how the car drives. If you have been driving with worn parts, it may feel like the day it came off the lot once the new parts are in and everything is adjusted correctly. Often it is hard to tell how far off the alignment was until repairs are complete, but it is worth having it checked even if you think it is just a little loose or wanders a small amount.

Reach out to an auto shop to learn more about wheel alignments.


21 December 2022

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