Wheel Alignment Cost Considerations
Sooner or later, every car owner deals with wheel alignment cost. Many people keep up with their scheduled maintenance checks, such as oil changes and electrical system checkups. However, some car owners tend to take their wheel alignment for granted, which can affect the driving performance of their vehicle.
Wheel alignment costs are usually not very expensive, but should still be given the proper attention that they deserve. Not only can misaligned wheels lead to decreased driving performance, but they can decrease your fuel mileage and the life of your tires as well.
Every car owner knows how expensive it is to replace worn out tires and wants their tires to last as long as possible. Misaligned wheels are one of the leading causes for your tires to wear out faster than they should.
Understanding Wheel Alignment
In order to understand why the cost of wheel alignment is an important necessity, you first have to understand exactly what wheel alignment is all about.
A certain amount of wear and tear occurs every time you go for a drive. That’s why it is essential that every vehicle be maintained in proper running condition. In the long-run, this will help you to avoid potentially more expensive repair charges (like replacing your tires because of uneven tire wear).
Wheel alignment is a type of mechanical adjustment which will make the angle of the wheels perpendicular to the ground as well as parallel to one another. This is done to gain maximum tire life as well as provide the correct traction and direction when moving on a level and straight road.
Answer: In general, misaligned tires can be brought about by accidental striking of the curb, road debris, parking blocks, worn parts, and (more commonly) potholes.
FAQ: “Are wheel alignment and wheel balancing synonymous, and just a tricky way to charge me twice for the same thing?”
Answer: No. While they both affect the handling and quality of ride of the vehicle, in reality both wheel alignment and wheel balancing are mechanical adjustments that are completely independent from each other.
Often, the common symptoms from each one can help you know which one is the problem. Vibration at high speeds is commonly the result of improper wheel balance, while tracking or steering problems accompanied by exhaustive tire wear are usually associated with wheel alignment.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while a tire’s alignment may not be visible to the naked eye, its effects are undeniable. When the tires are out of alignment, the orientation based on its center-line becomes off-center leading to uneven and frequent tire wear, difficulty in controlling the vehicle, and reduced fuel economy.
By paying the wheel alignment cost, you will actually be saving yourself money in the long-run through all of the benefits of having higher fuel economy. Also, you will be saving money by not replacing your tires as often as you would if you had uneven tire wear.
Car owners should be familiar with the term “camber” when dealing with wheel alignment cost because it is the most common terminology that you may encounter.
Camber represents the angle of the wheel (in degrees) when viewed from the front of the vehicle. A wheel that is perpendicular with the road has a camber of 0°. A negative camber means that the wheel is leaning in towards the center of the vehicle, while a positive camber means that it is leaning away from the center of the vehicle.
If the camber is different on both sides, it can result in a pulling action that will cause the vehicle to swerve to the side where the camber is greater. A camber needing adjustment causes increased tire wear that eventually requires you to replace your tires sooner (which is likely to be more expensive than the wheel alignment cost).
Note: While “camber” is what you’re likely to hear as you’re talking to your mechanic, you might also hear terms like Caster, Toe, Steering Axis Inclination (or SAI), Included Angle, Scrub radius, Riding height, Set back, Thrust Angle, Steering Center, Toe in, or Toe out on turns.
The most common sign of wheel misalignment is exhaustive or uneven wear on the tires. However, there are some signals which may not be visibly observed, which is why car owners and drivers should not take their wheel alignment for granted.
A classic sign, or symptom, would be a steering wheel that is not centered when running on a straight and level road. Another sign that many drivers leave unconsidered is when the vehicle has a slight pull to either side.
Often, people do not notice these signs until the damage becomes worse. In the meantime, they have usually had lower fuel economy and increased wear on their tires.
While car manufacturers generally suggest that wheel alignment should be done every 10,000 miles, unfortunately, not every car owner follows this. For some drivers, wheel alignment maintenance is one of the first things to go when they are trying to save money.
However, paying the small amount of money that it takes to keep your wheels properly aligned will actually save you money in the long-run. The benefits of having higher fuel economy and avoiding frequent tire replacements that occur because of uneven tire wear usually far outweigh any wheel alignment cost.
Additional Resources for Wheel Alignment: