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5 Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Alignment in Your Car

July 25, 2017 | Periodic Maintenance Info

Wheel alignments on a vehicle will greatly improve its performance. You probably won’t notice the difference much during your regular course of driving. However, if you must make a fast turn or dodge something quickly that’s on the road, a wheel alignment could be the very thing that saves your life. Don’t worry because there are noticeable symptoms with the vehicle that will signal when it’s time to get your wheels aligned.

Symptoms of a Bad Alignment

The following are the symptoms which will indicate that it is time to have your wheels realigned because the current alignment is bad.

1) Car Goes Over to One Side

If you’re ever driving on a road that stretches straight out into the distance and there is very little traffic around, take your hands off the steering wheel and let the car guide itself on the road. If you notice the car swerving toward one particular side, place your fingers back on the steering wheel and lightly maintain control of the steering so you stay on the road.

Now try the test again by taking your hands off the wheel. If the car still veers toward the side, then the wheels clearly need to be realigned. The more the car is pulling toward that side, the more you need to get the alignment done. If you continue to let it go as-is, you will find that it is harder to keep the car straight with the steering wheel and that you’ll easily cross over into lanes on the road if you don’t maintain a firm grip on the wheel at all times.

If this is the case, take your car to the auto mechanic and have the alignment done pronto.

2) Steering Wheel Balance

Whenever you’re driving down a road that is completely flat and straight, the steering wheel of your vehicle should remain straight and perfectly centered. An easy way to notice this is to just look at the emblem which lies in the center of your steering wheel. If the emblem stays at the same level as you, then it is centered. But if the emblem is over a couple of degrees off level in any direction, then it means you need a wheel alignment right away. Once you get it done, the steering wheel will go back to stay centered. Furthermore, you will notice it is easier to drive your vehicle after that.

3) Sloppy Steering

Does your steering wheel feel like it moves kind of sloppily? Often times, when there’s an alignment problem, the steering wheel may feel too loose as you’re holding it. Either that or you will turn the wheel and the vehicle will not move in that direction right away. There will be a lag in the response time. Now, this doesn’t always indicate an alignment problem, but there is a chance it could be one. Regardless of the cause, you should always have your vehicle checked out by a mechanic if you experience this symptom.

4) Steering Wheel Vibrates

If you’re driving and your steering wheel is constantly vibrating, the cause is likely due to an alignment problem and a balancing problem. Sometimes if you drive over a pothole or something big on the road, it will cause your wheels to become misaligned. However, vibration from a steering wheel could also indicate a much bigger problem too. Either way, get your vehicle checked out by a professional.

5) Tire Wear Not Even

If you notice that the treads on certain tires of your car are wearing out faster than others, you likely have bad wheel alignment on your car. To test this, measure the rubber depth on both sides of each tire and see if they all match or not. Wheels that are properly aligned will all have the same rubber depth on the tires. Wheels that are not aligned properly will have different rubber depths.

Read also: Tips to Check Transmission Fluid Condition: Manual and Automatic

Why it is Important to Fix an Alignment Problem Right Away

A lot of people notice these symptoms in their vehicle but they tend to ignore them for various reasons. Perhaps they think it’s no big deal or that they don’t want to spend the money on a realignment right now. The problem is that the longer you put off getting a realignment, the more damage it is going to do to your tires and vehicle. You’ll also get worse fuel efficiency because the misalignment requires your vehicle to consume more gasoline. Therefore, do yourself a favor and take your vehicle to a mechanic when any of these symptoms take place. Wheel alignments are not that expensive and it will prevent you from having to pay a lot more money fixing much bigger problems with your vehicle.

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