When it comes to the common front-end issues that drivers experience with their cars, wheel alignment is an easy one to overlook. Although alignment problems can be subtle, they can still cause significant damage to the tires and the suspension integrity. As a driver, it is important that you can recognize some of the most common causes of alignment trouble and signs to watch for. Here are a few things that you should be aware of.
What Can Affect Your Front-End Alignment?
There are a few situations you might encounter as a car owner that can lead to alignment problems. Understanding these situations may help you to be more proactive about having the alignment checked, potentially catching problems before they become serious.
You've installed new tires. If you replace the tires on the car, it's important that you have an alignment done. Cars travel a lot of miles between tire replacements, which can gradually alter the alignment. This can be the result of bumps and potholes on the road as well as general wear and tear.
Your car was in an accident. Any time your car is in an accident, the force of the impact can alter the alignment. This is particularly true if you strike something with the front end, whether it's another car or a curb. Have the alignment checked after every accident, no matter how minor it may seem.
You've altered the suspension. Whether you're lifting the suspension or just installing new components because of wear, those changes can alter the alignment of the wheels. The suspension is a key component of the positioning of the front wheels, so you should always have an alignment done after suspension changes.
What Are Signs of Misalignment?
Since cars aren't equipped with warning lights to notify you of alignment problems, it's important to understand the symptoms of this kind of problem.
The car pulls to one side on the road. When the alignment is off on your car, it can cause the front end to pull in one direction or the other. If you find yourself always pulling slightly in the same direction on the wheel, that's an indication of alignment issues.
The tires are wearing unevenly. Misalignment in the front end will keep your tires from sitting properly on the pavement. When you alter the portion of the tire that contacts the pavement, it will alter the wear on the tire tread. Any time you start to see an abnormal wear pattern, have the alignment checked out.
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