Wheel Alignment - Watch Out For The Gimmick
Oftentimes we have folks calling and asking for an alignment, because the steering wheel shakes, or "the tire place" told them it was needed. Problem is, steering wheel shake is NOT related to an alignment issue, and 9 times out of 10 is a tire or rim balance problem, much simpler than an alignment. In fact, we estimate that nearly 85% of the tire wear we see in our facility is NOT related to alignment.
Let’s start with some background information on wheel alignments. First of all, when should you have an alignment? This is not the type of service where you look up at a menu of services and say “Oh I have not had one of those for while, let me have an alignment today!!”
These are the times when you will need to have an alignment.
- After [repairs following] an accident – An accident could include something as small as hitting a pot hole or a curb, where the only repair required is an alignment, to a major collision involving extensive body work.
- When the car doesn’t seem to be steering straight - If you have some strange symptoms, for example you car is not steering straight on a flat highway, and the tires and pressures are correct, then an alignment may be in order.
- Signs of uneven tire wear – Uneven tire wear, not related to balance or rotation, can signal of an alignment problem.
- Following repairs to the steering and suspension – If parts are replaced that involve the steering and/or suspension, an alignment will likely be necessary.
That is about it. Cars do not just go out of alignment; something has to happen! That's why we've found that yearly alignments or alignments after tire replacement are largely a gimmick, designed to separate you from your hard earned dollars, or replace unnecessary parts.