The main purpose of a wheel alignment is to ensure that the wheels of your vehicle run in a consistent way to each other so that both the front and rear wheels touch the road at similar angles.
Properly aligned wheels help you in fixing or avoiding related problems such as a vehicle pulling to either side, poor gas mileage, a crooked steering wheel, or uneven wearing of tires. Wheel alignment does not need the replacement of any parts, making the process entirely dependent on the cost of labor.
If your vehicle has a bad wheel alignment, taking it to an alignment shop, tire shop, dealer, or other auto repair shop should be made a priority. Correctly aligned wheels will have a direct impact on the durability as well as the performance of the tires.
It can also significantly help in improving the reaction of your car on the road and driving comfort to give you a smooth and safe drive.
Cost of a Typical Wheel Alignment
The average wheel alignment cost varies with the car model and the professional mechanic servicing your vehicle as well as the equipment used by them. Depending on where you go, the average cost of aligning the front or rear wheels of most vehicles range from $50 to $100.
Expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $200 to align all four wheels. A complete 4-wheel alignment is always recommended for best results.
The two biggest factors in the final cost of a wheel alignment are the vehicle in question and the service center you go to.
Many luxury and performance vehicles require special tools and computers to perform an alignment and may take more time than others.
While a car dealership will obviously be able to perform alignments on their vehicle brand, not all independent shops will be able to handle every make and model. Generally you will pay the most for a wheel alignment at a dealership.
You will often get the lowest wheel alignment price at superstores that have an auto repair department such as Costco or Walmart. After that, chains such as Firestone, Goodyear, Discount Tire, and Pep Boys will all be in about the same price range.
A specialty alignment shop is usually the best place to go for a tire alignment as they are the experts and often have the latest and best alignment equipment around.
Keep in mind that during the alignment process, the technician may find other parts in need of repair or replacement. You can usually get these taken care of as well but the price of an alignment job can quickly go from $150 to $500 if other repairs are needed.
Some service providers can perform a one time alignment that’s covered under your car warranty depending on the specific mileage of the car. Some companies can allow you to perform wheel alignments free of charge after extending your warranty or any extra alignments for a definite period.
What is Included With an Alignment?
When you take your car or truck in for an alignment, the mechanic will check three parameters: the caster, camber, and toe (more info here). Using various equipment, they will ensure the angles of all parameters are set to factory specifications for your vehicle.
Once that’s done, they will test everything on an alignment rack and usually take the vehicle for a short test drive to confirm it tracks straight, handles well, and there are no vibrations from the steering wheel.
Does Car Insurance Cover Wheel Alignments?
Since a tire alignment is common act of maintenance, insurance companies will not cover the price of the alignment in most cases. The exception is when your vehicle is involved in an accident.
In most cases, a complete 4-wheel alignment will need to be done after all repairs. The insurance company, whether yours or the other person’s, will almost always cover the cost of the alignment.
Some insurance companies may argue a small fender bender would not affect alignment but you should push back as even a small angle change in camber, caster, or toe can cause big issues for you down the road.