When Does My Car Need an Alignment?

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Sponsored - We have had so many people come into my shop stating that they need an alignment. When I ask them why, most of the time they state they have a vibration. The only way an alignment could cause a vibration is if it were severely out. It is usually caused by an accident that bent something. In that case, it’s part failure. In the last 35 years of working on cars, I have never seen a vibration caused by an alignment.

The two most common failures are tires and brakes. Tires can cause multiple different types of vibrations. Highway speed vibrations that start around fifty-five mph is usually a balancing problem. Another type is a low-speed vibration or a shake in the steering wheel or seat wobble. A low-speed vibration is most commonly a bad tire. A broken belt causing a bubble or knot can cause a vibration. This particular problem is dangerous because this will cause a blow out and possibly an accident. You can also have a low-speed vibration with a bent rim or an out of round tire.

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The second most common vibration is the brake system or more specifically the brake rotors. In the past, vehicles were less aerodynamic than they are today. This allowed more air into the brakes which kept them cooler, and the rotors were thicker. Nowadays, with manufacturers having to increase fuel economy, they are trying to reduce weight so rotors are thinner. Less air gets to the rotors, so brakes are running at higher temperatures. When you add these two things together you have a lot of brake rotors that get warped. So, every time you apply the brakes the steering wheel shakes.

So, when should you get an alignment? Textbooks say every 6 months. If that is not reasonable, then at minimum every time you buy new tires. Also, if you notice driving problems…for example pulling to one side drifting, crooked steering wheel or tires wearing unevenly. Also, if you hit a large pothole and now the car drives differently then you need to get one done because something could be bent or broken. Keep in mind if you get an alignment for a pulling problem, make sure you have tires rotated or replaced.

The alignment wears the tires at an angle and the tires then cause the car to pull or drift to one side. So, if you get an alignment but do not correct the tires then you will still have a pull even if the alignment is correct. Come see us at White’s Automotive if you have any questions!

White's Automotive