It's a familiar situation for many drivers: a vehicle starts pulling hard to the left or right while on the road. When this happens, it’s often time for a wheel alignment. A wheel alignment is a necessary car service that keeps a vehicle performing at its best. But why do wheels need to be aligned, and how do drivers know when to do it?
Why Is a Wheel Alignment Necessary?
New vehicles are pre-set with their tires positioned at a very precise alignment, which must be maintained for optimal performance. The vehicle drives smoother and tires last longer when all four are pointed in the same direction. Wheels that are out of line will see uneven tire wear, a shorter lifespan, and poor drivability. Plus, a smoother ride requires less fuel, which can lead to savings on gas, too. Drivers can check for these four signs that an alignment may be needed.
Pulling to One Side
When tires are properly aligned, a car should drive straight with little effort on the steering wheel. If not, the vehicle will pull to one direction when driving straight. This pull can be corrected with realignment. And while many people think the vehicle should drive perfectly straight with the driver’s hands off the wheel, this isn’t a good method of determining alignment because all roads have a degree of crowning, which creates a slight pull.
Decline in Handling
If the car feels a little unstable, it could be a number of things, including wheel alignment. This instability may be felt in one of two ways: either as wandering all over the lane, or as feeling sloppy around corners. But poor handling is also indicative of other problems, so it’s important to take the vehicle in for a car service appointment to determine if poor alignment is the cause.
Wheel Doesn’t Return to Center
After turning, the wheel should naturally return to the center position on its own (with the driver’s guidance, of course). If it doesn’t, it’s probably the alignment. The further from the center the wheel returns after turning, the more out of line wheels are likely to be.
Uneven Tread Wear
When tires seem to have abnormal wear only in certain spots, or if they suddenly experience rapid wear, they may need to be realigned. This will ensure the tires wear evenly moving forward to extend their life.
Schedule a Wheel Alignment
If you’ve experienced any of these signs or think your wheels may need to be aligned, the technicians at A+ Japanese Auto Repair Inc. have the knowledge and expertise to diagnose and correct the problem. We’ve been working on Japanese cars since 1997, and we offer convenient appointment times, free loaner cars, and a complimentary shuttle to make it as easy as possible for you to service your vehicle. Call us at (650) 595-2277 or schedule a maintenance appointment today!