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Buying new tires is an expensive task! While they are just as essential to maintaining your engine and transmission. Tires need to be replaced more frequently than either of those. Because of that, you want to take the best care of them to keep them from wearing unevenly, punctured, and damaged.
This article is dedicated to if you need an alignment every time you get a new set of tires! So let’s get into this.
You should get an alignment every time you get a new set of tires. This isn’t because getting a new set of tires puts your vehicle out of alignment. Instead, you are getting the alignment as a precautionary measure to prolong the life of your new tires. It would be best if you got an alignment at least once a year (along with rotating your tires regularly) to keep them in good condition.
So what is an alignment?
While it may seem like an alignment has to do with adjusting the wheels and tires of the vehicle, that is only partially correct. Alignment is adjustments to the car’s suspension so that the wheels and tires are pointing straight.
A repair facility adjusts different components, such as the tie rod ends and axles, to make it, so the wheel is straight! There will be three different adjustments that will be checked and adjusted if needed.
- Toe – The toe of the wheels refers to the angle inward and outward horizontally. This makes it so both wheels point in the same direction when you turn the wheel of your vehicle. If your toe is off, you will be fighting your car and likely wander on the road.
- Camber – The camber of your wheels is the vertical tilt. Essentially, you want to ensure that the wheels are up and down. This is in contrast to being tilted one way or the other. This is the common reason your tires are worn on one side rather than down the middle.
- Caster – This is where your tires sit in the wheel well. The alignment ensures that it is correctly placed in the middle of the wheel well rather than to the front or back.
Whenever you get a new set of tires (if you are looking to buy, I recommend buying here), you should have the above items taken a close look at and adjust them as needed. This will help your new tires stay in excellent condition for longer.
This is a preemptive measure, and your alignment is not thrown out just because you installed a new set of tires.
How to tell When your Vehicle Needs Alignment
There are quite a few ways you can tell if your car needs an alignment, whether you just purchased a new set of tires or not! Let’s review it so you can be knowledgeable when you visit the tire shop.
1. Uneven wear of tires
If you notice your tires are wearing unevenly, it might be time to get an alignment! If your camber is out of alignment, you will start to see wear on the inside or outside of the tire. However, if your car is out of alignment elsewhere, you will notice your tires wearing out much quicker than expected.
A vehicle out of alignment can be felt on the steering wheel. The steering wheel will vibrate or shake when driving. That said, quite a few other things can also cause this, so make sure you request a shop to check it out before telling them to do an alignment.
3. Off-center steering wheel
You can tell your wheels are misaligned if your steering wheel is off-center when driving straight. If you always have to pull on your steering wheel to get the vehicle to go forward in a straight line, you should get an alignment.
I see too many vehicles where it becomes a workout to drive. Instead, if you are going in a straight line and take your hands off the wheel, you should continue to go straight. If you don’t, it’s time for an alignment.
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How Often Does your Car Need Alignment?
I recommend getting your alignment checked or performed at least once a year. This will make sure you can catch any issues before they waste your hard-earned money by ruining your tires.
You should also perform an alignment whenever you get a new set of tires (as discussed earlier). You should also perform an alignment whenever you replace suspension parts, such as shocks or struts. In this case, it is mandatory and a safety issue if not done.
Should you get all four tires aligned?
Regarding vehicle alignment, you might wonder if alignment is performed on all four tires simultaneously. The answer is yes. Most of today’s vehicles (vans, cars, small SUVs) should have a four-wheel alignment.
It is impossible for vehicles with solid rear axles to align the rear tires; thus, alignment is only done on the front wheels. But the rear tires should also be checked for wear.
It is possible to align the four tires, the technician should do a four-wheel alignment. If not, they should align the front tires and check the rear ones for wear.
How Long Does Alignment Take?
Alignment should take one hour or more, depending on the vehicle. You need to book an appointment at the automotive shop because most shops operate with only one alignment rack. Therefore, make your appointments early for consideration and get your car fixed. The thing that will get you is the wait time to get your vehicle into the shop! This can sometimes take weeks, depending on where you live.
It is highly recommended to get an alignment whenever you get a new set of tires! This will help ensure your new tires do not wear out prematurely and last as long as they are meant to.
However, as discussed, your alignment is not affected by installing new tires on your vehicle. Instead, the alignment is recommended as a preemptive measure to ensure your tires last as long as they should. It is much cheaper to get an alignment than to replace tires.