Basic car maintenance includes several tasks that are often overlooked by most drivers, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and wheel alignment. While staying on top of these general maintenance tasks can be a hassle for some, it is imperative that drivers perform these procedures on a regular basis. Wheel alignment in particular does several important things for our vehicles, and in this article we’ll address some basic information about it.
What does wheel alignment refer to?
It is common for drivers to mistake wheel alignment for another procedure, such as wheel balancing; however, wheel alignment is not so much related to your tires or wheels as it is your suspension. Wheel alignment is a correction of or fine-tuning of suspension system components, more specifically how various parts connect to the wheels, making them touch the ground at a certain angle. This is important, as it keeps our cars driving in a straight line; however, wheel alignment plays an integral role in how our vehicles function in several different aspects including how suspension and wheel components age and wear.
What causes poor wheel alignment?
There are a number of different ways wheel alignment can become faulty or misaligned. This process may occur gradually over time, which is rather normal for all cars due to the changing terrain we drive on and the wear of other parts of our vehicles. Contrastingly, wheel misalignment may happen with one isolated occurrence or incident. These are the most common causes of poor wheel alignment you should be aware of:
- Suspension issues – if some of your suspension components are out-of-whack or especially worn, it can affect how your wheels are angled.
- Uneven tire wear – believe it or not, something as subtle as worn out tires can both cause misalignment and be the result of misalignment.
- Accidents or collisions – bumping into a curb, running over a pothole, or getting into a road collision can take a serious toll on your wheel alignment and it should be addressed right away.
- Frequent road conditions – along with potholes and road imperfections, frequently driving on especially rough terrain can cause your wheel alignment to need correctly much more often.
Why is it important to maintain wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment is one of the cheaper, more attainable automotive maintenance tasks that drivers encounter – it’s also one of the mores important. Here are a few of the pertinent reasons why maintaining your wheel alignment should be prioritized:
- Prevents rapid, uneven tire wear
- Keeps suspension components in good condition
- Promotes vehicle safety
Symptoms of wheel misalignment
It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of wheel misalignment so you can catch them early before it causes more damage to your suspension or tires, or puts you in danger on the road. Here are a few symptoms of wheel misalignment that you should be aware of in your own car:
- Vibrating steering wheel
- Steering wheel does not return to exact center
- Car pulls to the right or left on a flat surface
- Uneven tire wear patterns
How to maintain proper wheel alignment
It’s not uncommon to encounter wheel misalignment, it’s just important to address it right away if it occurs. Keeping your wheels properly aligned can be achieved with the help of a trustworthy, experienced automotive professional – preferably one that specializes in the particular type of vehicle you drive. Here are few tips for keeping your alignment on-point:
- Hire a skilled automotive shop to handle your alignment services
- Stick to your manufacturer’s suggestions on the proper intervals for wheel servicing
- Don’t let the symptoms of improper alignment go unaddressed for any extended period of time
- Make it a point to address your wheel alignment before long road trips or extended drives into unknown territory
At BMW Mercedes Service, we tailor our expertise to German-engineered cars like BMW, Mercedes, and MINI. The residents of Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, Encino, Studio City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village, CA, bring their cars to us for our expertise in German vehicles, but they also rely on our honesty, integrity, and affordability. If you’ve recently noticed that your car’s wheel alignment is suffering, please schedule an appointment right away to correct the issue.