When do you need to align your wheels?

By: Kris LeSueur   |   15 Aug 2022

Many people confuse wheels and tires when talking about them as parts of a vehicle. However, they are different parts of a set. They come together, so the confusion is understandable.

The wheel is the metal to which the tire is attached. It has two parts–the disc and the rim. On the other hand, the tire is the circular rubber attached around the wheel.

Not that that is out of the way, it’s clear that these two parts are different, and then maintaining both requires different actions, too. As for the wheels, they need to be properly aligned all the time.

What is wheel alignment?

Your car wheels have to be set at a certain angle to ensure that your car moves properly. These angles are commonly predefined by manufacturers based on the car’s specifications. The degree to which the wheels are angled can affect your cornering, turning, centering, and steering among others.

When do you need to have your wheels aligned?

Unequal wear and tear on tires

Your tires should be receiving an equal degree of wear and tear. Inspect all four tires and check if any of the tires are worn out on a certain side or angle compared to the others. Measure the tread depth on each wheel to see if they are all the same.

Unequal wear and tear on tires will cause you to untimely change out your tires which is a financial strain.

Car pulling to the side

Your car is not supposed to pull to the left or the right. On a straight path, try to let go of the steering wheel. Properly aligned wheels should make your vehicle go straight. If it pulls to any side, it’s time to schedule a wheel alignment at your trusted car service shop.

Driving in the rain is extra dangerous with misaligned wheels because it makes your car prone to hydroplaning where the tires lose contact with the pavement.

Off-center steering wheel

Have you ever been in a situation where even though you are driving on a straight path, your steering wheel is turned a bit to one slide? That's your wheels telling you they are not aligned.

A loose steering wheel is also a symptom of wheel misalignment. This is the case when you steer in a direction but the tires do not feel like they are moving.

Vibrating steering wheel

It’s normal for vehicle parts to vibrate when it moves, but in the case of the steering wheel, it must not be so strong that you can feel it in your hands and affect driving comfort. Although there are a handful of possible culprits, wheel misalignment is one of the top reasons for this.

Squealing tires

Unequal pressure and wight received by tires cause them to make a squealing noise. The most likely culprits are worn-out brake pads and misaligned wheels.

Any sign of driving discomfort and unusual movement for vehicle parts should send you driving towards the car service center as soon as you notice them. Wheels may not seem to be as important as the engine, but they sure cost a lot to be replaced. Proper maintenance is always the best money-saving hack.

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