Why get a wheel alignment

Incorrect wheel alignment on a vehicle can be extremely dangerous. In the worst case, it can lead to accidents. In a less serious but still costly scenario, it could lead to your vehicle failing its MOT. While problems with wheel alignment are often due simply to everyday wear-and-tear, they can result in uneven wear on your tires, and lead to difficulties with steering. From a financial and safety point of view, a wheel alignment by an experienced mechanic is invaluable.

You should check your wheel alignment every year or so, because this is how long it takes for a vehicle to develop misalignment in normal conditions. In fact, significant changes to vehicle alignment can occur in just 18 months. However, excessive wear on steering components or to your wheel suspension system can lead to problems much sooner. For instance, a particularly bad winter can mean you are dealing with far more potholes than normal.

contact us

Here are some situations in which you should get a wheel alignment as soon as possible:

  • After you hit a kerb, large pothole or other obstacle
  • After an accident
  • If you notice a change in your vehicle handling, such as veering to the left or right on a straight road, or when the steering fails to return to a straight position after an easy turn
  • If your wheels squeal on turns
  • f you have any changes to your suspension components
  • If your vehicle feels unstable or you notice extra vibration
  • If you change your vehicle's rims
  • After you have new tyres fitted and you want them to last as long as possible

Correct wheel alignment can also save you money on petrol, because incorrect alignment may produce rolling resistance on the road. With the correct alignment, it is estimated that your tyres will last up to 12,000 miles longer.

What is wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment, or wheel and suspension tracking, is the process of assessing and then adjusting the angles of your vehicle's wheels so that they meet the manufacturer's specifications. A wheel-alignment specialist will use imaging sensors to check the position and angle of your wheels. This will include checking the vehicle's camber, caster and 'toe' settings; all of which will depend on the manufacturer’s guidelines for your vehicle, and these will need to be monitored a regular basis. As well as these 'primary angle' settings, an experienced wheel alignment professional will check the vehicle's secondary angles, including Steering Axis Inclination (SAI), wheelbase difference and maximum turns. Changing the wheel rims and tyres will affect these secondary angles.

The benefits and advantages of getting a wheel alignment

If you use a professional wheel alignment specialist, the process won't take very long – for an ordinary sedan, it would probably around half an hour, and is hardly costly with prices starting at £34. This isn't much of a price to pay for enhanced safety and driving pleasure. The benefits can be summarised as follows:

  • It enhances your vehicle handling and hence your driving safety
  • Your tyres will last longer with wheel alignment
  • You will experience a smoother drive
  • You may reduce your braking distance
  • You may save money on petrol

During wheel alignment, your mechanic will make any necessary adjustments to the wheel positioning and angle, and advise you on any changes necessary to your steering and suspension systems.

How to check your alignment

If you have a problem with your wheel alignment, you will notice that you have to steer slightly to the left or to the right to drive in a straight line, or you will have problems straightening after a simple turn. You can also tell that there are problems when you notice excessive wear on the inside or outside shoulder of your tyres. In any case, it is worth checking wheel alignment after driving for one year in normal conditions

What else is involved in wheel alignment?

Before your beginning the process, the mechanic should look at your vehicle to ensure that all the steering and suspension components are working according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and any modifications to your vehicle. This check should include everything from tyre pressure to internal parts. Any worn parts would need to be identified before proceeding to the alignment process – without this it might not be possible to align your wheels. This is called the 'pre-alignment check'.

Providing the parts are functional, your wheel alignment measurements can be taken. The best wheel alignment services will use state-of-the art equipment to provide a full and accurate assessment of your vehicle. After this, the mechanic should describe any problems to you and make sure you are fully informed about any changes that are necessary. Finally, after making the alignment, you will receive a report on your vehicle's new, corrected alignment.