Alignment is the process of adjusting the car suspension to facilitate easy driving and steering. First, the suspension is the vehicle system that connects the vehicle body to its wheels. The purpose of vehicle alignment is to increase vehicle balance, thus reducing vibrations when driving. Adjusting the suspension improves the performance of tires and prolongs their life.
We all want our tires to last longer, and no one wants to run to the store every few months to replace tires. But if you’ve just bought some new tires or are considering getting some, you are probably wondering whether you need to align your wheels after tire replacement. This article gives you the answer to that question and other helpful information on wheel alignment.
Do you Need an Alignment after Replacing Tires? Alignment after replacing tires is not a mandatory requirement, but it is necessary to ensure that the new set of tires correctly makes contact with the road surface. Taking precautions is essential, so aligning will extend your tire life and provide you with a smooth ride.
How to tell When your Vehicle Needs Alignment
Misalignment can cause premature damage to tires and may not be safe for driving. They can also damage the vehicle suspension system and incur considerable costs in repairs. That is why it is essential to know the signs of misalignment so you can save your vehicle from premature faults. So, what signs show that your car requires alignment?
Uneven wear of tires
When you observe varying wear of the tires, it is often a sign that your car is misaligned and requires alignment. This can also be caused by bad camber, or by driving erratically as well.
A vehicle that is out of alignment can be felt on the steering wheel. The steering wheel will vibrate or shake when driving.
That said, this can also be caused by quite a few other things, so make sure you request a shop to check it out before just telling them to do an alignment.
The steering wheel is not centered
You can tell that your wheels are misaligned if your steering wheel is off-center when you are driving straight. If you are someone who always has to pull on your steering wheel to get the vehicle to go forward in a straight line, you probably should get an alignment.
I see too many vehicles where it becomes a workout just 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.
How Often Does your Car Need Alignment?
The most apparent reason to align your car wheels is when you observe the signs of misalignment, as we mentioned earlier. If you see that your tires are unevenly worn out or experience unnecessary vibrations when driving, it is time to do some wheel alignment.
After Installing New Tires
It is advisable to perform a wheel alignment after replacing your car tires. It ensures that the new tires have uniform contact with the road surface and protects the tire treading from premature wear.
While not everyone opts to have this done, it is a good rule of thumb to make sure those brand new tires you just bought last as long as they can.
Don’t have new tires quite yet and have a pickup? We have an awesome guide here that goes over our favorite tires for pickups.
Annual Alignment inspection
Even if you haven’t experienced any signs of misalignment, it is necessary to have your vehicles checked once a year or twice if you regularly use rough roads to ensure proper alignment. Alignment can be done during these checks if any fault is detected.
After Replacement of Suspension Parts
When replacing suspension parts, tire angles may be affected. It is necessary to align these tire angles after replacing the suspension parts to avoid misalignment.
You most definitely need to make sure to do this, as it is nearly impossible to align a vehicle on your own without the right tools, and replacing suspension parts will generally always put a vehicle out of alignment.
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Tire Alignment – Four Tires at Once?
When it comes to vehicle alignment, you might be wondering if alignment is performed on all four tires at a go. 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.
Therefore, if 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. In most cases, you find that 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 sometimes can take weeks depending on where you live.
The question of alignment after replacing tires is common, and the decision can be unclear to a car owner.
So, if you had the same question, I hope you received a good answer. While not required, it is always a good idea to align your tires after replacing them. It prolongs tire life and provides a smooth and safe drive.