Proper alignment on your vehicle is essential for good handling and safety. Unfortunately, small things, such as driving over a large pot hole or hitting a curb, can knock your vehicle out of alignment. Luckily, there are several signs that can let you know that you need to visit an auto repair shop to have your car aligned. Common signs of alignment problems include:
Pulling to One Side
One of the most obvious signs that you need to have your car aligned is pulling to one side or the other when driving. This happens when one wheel is no longer aligned with the others, so it pulls the car in one direction instead of traveling straight. If the wheel is badly out of alignment, you may notice that you have to apply extra pressure to the steering wheel to keep the car moving in the right direction.
If you have a minor alignment problem, your vehicle may not actively pull to one side or the other. But you may notice that if you remove your hands briefly from the steering wheel while driving straight the car may sway towards one side. Don't ignore minor alignment issues-- it is best to take care of the problem as quickly as possible.
Uneven Tire Wear
Tires that are balanced and aligned properly tend to wear out at the same rate. If one tire has a different pattern of wear or is visibly more worn than the other tires, it is most likely time for an alignment. Depending on how worn out the tire is, you may also need to replace it with a new one.
Vibration While Driving
While there are several car problems that can cause vibration, it is a good idea to check the alignment before moving on to more complex diagnostic tests. A bad alignment can cause vibration in the steering wheel while the car is in motion because the wheels are pulling away from each other.
Steering Wheel Is Not Straight
A subtle sign of an alignment problem is the position of the steering wheel when you are driving on a straight road. When you're driving straight, the steering wheel should also be straight, but bad alignment can cause your steering wheel to become crooked even though you're going straight. Get in the habit of regularly checking your steering wheel when driving straight-- if you catch an alignment problem early, you may be able to save your tires from uneven wear.
For more tips or information about tire alignment, contact a local auto repair shop.