Cars don't come with sensors or warning lights to indicate when the tires are out of alignment. As a result, you need to know what to watch for as indications that your car may need a front-end alignment. Overlooking a needed alignment can ultimately damage your car's suspension and tires, so it's important that you have an alignment done when needed. Here's a look at what you need to know about the times when your car might need an alignment.
When You Get New Tires
Any time you install new tires on your car, you should also plan for a wheel alignment. This is important, because your car's alignment can shift gradually, and you may not even notice it until you put brand new tires on the car. Potholes, speed bumps and other hazards in the road can even alter the alignment, so being proactive is important.
Following Suspension Changes
Whether you upgrade the suspension or just replace a defective part, it's important that you have the alignment checked and corrected if necessary. The suspension is a key part of the positioning of the front wheels, so it can alter your alignment unintentionally.
After an Accident
Even something as simple as hitting a curb or a pothole can put your car's front end out of alignment. No matter how minor the accident may seem, make sure that you have the alignment checked and corrected afterward.
In Response to Handling Issues
Sometimes, there aren't any defining moments that lead to an alignment issue. If the alignment shifts gradually, you may not notice a problem until the car starts showing symptoms of alignment issues. For example, if your car is pulling to one side when you're traveling straight down the road, that's a sure sign that your alignment is off.
If you find yourself holding the wheel slightly to one side or the other, you should have the alignment evaluated. You may even see uneven wear on your car's tires. If you do, this is another sign that your alignment could be off. When the tires are misaligned, they may put more pressure on one side of the tire than the other, leading to the uneven wear.
Proper wheel alignment is important to your car's overall condition and safety. Understanding these key times when the alignment should be checked may help you to avoid serious problems. Talk with your local auto repair technician about scheduling your next wheel alignment and general service.