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Wheel Alignment: What Is It & When Does Your Car Need It?-featured-image

Wheel Alignment: What Is It & When Does Your Car Need It?

A wheel alignment is a service most of us don’t consider to be routine. Unless we hit a pothole, a curb, or have new tires installed, it’s typically never discussed. However, taking the proactive step of having a mobile mechanic come to your location to inspect the condition of the suspension system by completing an auto alignment can save you wear and tear on tires, improve highway driving, and ensure optimal vehicle safety.

In years past, a wheel alignment was something that could only be accomplished by taking your vehicle to a suspension expert shop. You’d have to schedule the appointment and hope that they could simply make a few adjustments to the shocks or struts to ensure the wheels were straight and ready to navigate the roads ahead.

Technology has changed in recent years, allowing experienced mobile mechanics to complete automotive alignment services at your home or office, with advanced technological equipment that is optimized to adjust your suspension system to keep your daily driver riding smooth and straight down the highways.

Let’s examine a few of the facts about wheel alignment. In the information below, we’ll explain the facts about tire alignment services. What is it? Why is it important, and how much does it cost to have a professional mobile mechanic come to your location to provide this valuable service on your time.

What is Wheel Alignment?

The suspension system on your modern car, truck, or SUV is comprised of multiple, independent components, that all move together in unison to allow optimal steering and vehicle handling. If one of those parts wears out, or if the vehicle hits an obstruction in the road, the wheels may fall out of adjustment.

It’s at this point that your vehicle may drift while driving, develop a vibration, and eventually lead to premature tire wear. If this happens, you’ll want to have a wheel alignment completed by a professional mechanic.

A wheel alignment is a mechanical inspection and adjustment of the vehicle’s suspension and steering components. A professional mechanic will utilize a system of adjustment plates, lasers, and precision calibrated equipment to ensure the wheels and tires are properly ‘aligned’. If the mechanic determines that the wheels are not straight or that the suspension is out of alignment, they will physically adjust a few of the components to bring the wheels and tires back into proper alignment.

How Do You Know You Need a Tire Alignment? 

Like most mechanical damage, a vehicle that has tire alignment issues will display a few symptoms or warning signs. Here are three of the most common symptoms that may indicate a suspension misalignment.

Uneven Tread Wear

Tires are supposed to be rotated every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear across the tread. However, there are some instances where the tires will wear in a specific pattern that may be caused by the improperly aligned suspension. Some of the most common wear issues include:

  • Tread on the outside or inside of the tire is low.
  • Tire tread that is showing steel belts on the inside or outside of the tire.
  • Feathered tread. In this instance, the tread on the tire will not be smooth. Some tread blocks will be noticeably higher than others.

The Vehicle is Pulling to the Left or Right 

Another indicator of improper alignment happens when the vehicle will pull to the left or right while you’re driving straight. This is often a direct result of tires that display a positive toe-in or toe-out condition. Improper air pressure is another source of pulling as are cornering issues caused by worn-out tires. 

Steering Wheel Vibrates

A final warning sign could represent a significant mechanical problem. If the steering wheel vibrates aggressively – at low or high speeds, this likely indicates that suspension components may be damaged – which would result in misalignment conditions. Sometimes poor tire balancing is the cause of vibration - but that usually happens at speeds above 60 mph. 

How Often Does Your Car Need a Wheel Alignment?

Most professional mechanics recommend having a wheel alignment anytime you strike a curb, hit a pothole, or other obstruction in the road. These situations represent the most common causes of improper wheel alignment.

It’s also a good idea to have the tires aligned anytime you purchase new tires. This is the best time to have the suspension aligned, as the tires are completely flat and straight – giving the mechanic a solid canvass to work, review, and make any suspension adjustments.

Why is a Car Alignment Necessary?

Many mechanical jobs serve as routine maintenance and others are straight repairs. A wheel or tire alignment is both. If the mechanic takes time to check the alignment of the car’s suspension, it can help diagnose potentially serious safety issues – such as a broken strut, shocks, or steering arms.

Technically, a car alignment is necessary for several other reasons.

Helps Reduce Tire Wear

When tires are properly inflated and are mounted straight on the spindles, the vehicle will have less rolling resistance. This helps to reduce premature or uneven tire wear and expands the tire's lifespan. 

Improves Fuel Economy

The quickest way to travel is in a straight line. When the wheels are properly aligned, the vehicle drives straighter – which not only saves you time but improves fuel economy.

Can Help Avoid Traffic Accidents

The fact states that many roadside accidents are the direct result of a mechanical component failure. Specifically – if steering or suspension parts break suddenly, your vehicle will be virtually out of control. A suspension alignment can troubleshoot issues before they break.

How Long Does a Wheel Alignment Take?

In most cases, a wheel alignment appointment consumes an entire day. Most alignment shops require the customer to bring the vehicle to their shop in the early morning, leave it, and pick it up later in the afternoon or the next day. This is due to the multiple variables with wheel alignment services.

If the mechanic finds that parts within the steering or suspension system are broken, they are unable to adjust them. This will require replacement and additional costs. It also takes more time away from your busy schedule.

By having a professional mobile mechanic come to your home or office to complete the alignment, you’re free to stay on track with your schedule – plus, you’ll know whether or not parts need to be replaced so you can schedule that service as your schedule allows.

Wheel Alignment Cost: How Much is a Wheel Alignment?

Mobile wheel alignments price starts at $300 for all four wheels. The process to complete a mobile wheel alignment involves putting the four tires on turntable plates and using mountable laser guides to tell the computer the current alignment specs.

The computer system that Quiker uses can analyze the camber, caster, and toe angles – which are then compared to the manufacturer's specifications. If adjustment is needed, the mechanic can adjust the upper or lower control arms, the strut tower, or other suspension components.

Once adjustments are made, the measuring system will review the changes to ensure the suspension is properly adjusted to the manufacturer's specifications. 

Quiker’s Wheel Alignment Services

Most car, truck, and SUV owners consider car alignment jobs as entertaining as an optional root canal. Nevertheless, it’s an important job that can save you thousands of dollars in damage if suspension or steering components break unexpectedly. This is where Quiker’s team of professional mobile mechanics can help ease the pain.

By having an ASE Certified master technician come to your home or office to complete the wheel alignment, you’ll ease the frustration, complete work or personal tasks, and have peace of mind knowing your car is safe to drive.

If you’d like to schedule your mobile wheel alignment service, contact us today.

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