How to Tell If Your Car Needs a Wheel Alignment: Tips from a Pro

Dear Mike,

I have been experiencing some issues with my vehicle’s steering and handling, and I am not sure if it requires a four-wheel alignment. How can I identify the signs that my car needs an alignment? I don’t want to get it done if it’s unnecessary, but I also don’t want to neglect it if it’s crucial.

Thanks for your help!

Dear Tahlia,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to write to me about your vehicle’s alignment. It’s always great to hear from car owners who are proactive about taking care of their rides. And when it comes to wheel alignment, I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay on top of this.

Now, to answer your question, there are a few key signs that you can be on the lookout for to determine if your car is in need of an alignment. First and foremost, if you notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side or the other, that’s a pretty solid indicator that your wheels are not properly aligned. This can happen over time due to normal wear and tear, driving on poorly maintained roads, hitting potholes or speed bumps, or even just driving aggressively.

Another common symptom of poor alignment is vibrating in the steering wheel when you’re driving. This can happen at any speed, but it’s most noticeable at higher speeds. Essentially, if your steering wheel is shaking or vibrating, it’s a good idea to get your wheels aligned sooner rather than later.

Finally, if you notice that your vehicle’s tires are wearing unevenly, that can be a direct result of poor alignment. Specifically, if you notice that your tire treads are wearing on one side more heavily than the other, that’s a pretty clear indication that your wheels are not properly aligned.

One thing to keep in mind is that it can be difficult to notice some of these alignment issues, especially if they’re subtle. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your regular maintenance and get your alignment checked out by a professional on a regular basis. Most mechanics and auto care professionals recommend having your alignment checked at least once per year, but if you’re driving in particularly rough conditions or putting a lot of miles on your car, you may need to have it checked more frequently.

In terms of whether you need a four-wheel alignment or just a front-end alignment, that really depends on your specific vehicle and driving habits. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, then it’s important to have all four wheels aligned. However, for most other vehicles, a front-end alignment is typically sufficient.

I hope this helps answer your questions about wheel alignment, Tahlia. Remember, staying on top of your regular maintenance and getting your alignment checked out by a professional on a regular basis can save you money in the long run, by increasing the lifespan of your tires and improving your vehicle’s overall performance. And as always, if you have any other questions or concerns about your vehicle, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Best of luck out there on the road!

Mike Urban, Founder of Urban Automotive