When I was a kid, my mom drove fast. (“Safely, but quickly!” she liked to say.) She was pretty good about missing the pot holes, but every once in a while, one would sneak up on her and our mini van would rattle around like a ball in a pinball machine. She would look in the rear view mirror, shake her head and mutter, “There goes the alignment!” as she tried to get back up to speed in record time. As a kid, I didn’t really know what that meant, but it didn’t seem to be a good thing.
Years later, as a car owner myself, I have hit a few pot holes and wondered, “What exactly is alignment?” It turns out that it is quite important to having optimum handling, safety and more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
What is Alignment?
Simply put, wheel alignment is adjusting the angle of the wheels so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. This is done to maximize the life of your tires and make sure that you vehicle drives straight when it is operating.
When Should I Check Alignment?
Knowing when to check for alignment problems is key in avoiding excessive wear and tear on your tires as well as veering off the road while driving. You should always check your alignment if you notice that your tires are wearing abnormally. It only take a fraction of an inch of misalignment to substantially effect the drag over the many miles that you travel each day. Usually if you can visibly see a wear pattern, it is too late for that set of tires and you might need to another set. This is why it is important to periodically have your alignment checked. (And, a good idea to avoid pot holes!)
Another occasion that it would be necessary to have your alignment checked is when you do purchase new tires for your vehicle. This allows your new tires to be in the optimum position to maximize their lives. Considering the cost of tires today, I would say that most people would agree that this is worth the small amount of extra effort it requires. If you add certain suspension or steering components to your car, you should consider having your alignment checked in that case as well.
Making sure to pay attention to steering and handling is another way to get a sense of your car’s alignment while you are driving. If there is a noticeable difference it how it handles or vibration in the steering wheel or floor board, then chances are you might be time for your alignment to be looked at, even if you haven’t hit any giant pot holes recently.
This guest post was written by Freedom Rims, a Responsible Military Lender since 1983. Freedom Rims offers rims financing for a variety of performance rims and tires in Hawaii. We offer fast and convenient credit on a large inventory of tires and wheels with our military financing options.