Poor wheel alignment can cause severe tire wear and suspension malfunctions. An alignment is a procedure that is performed by your mechanic in an alignment shop to restore the proper form of your vehicle’s suspension.
When you replace your tires, you should consider getting an alignment to protect your investment. Technicians may only need to make minor adjustments to bring your vehicle up to specifications and protect your tires from uneven wear.
What does an Alignment Shop Do?
A car alignment is a complex process that involves positioning and adjusting components to align the wheels with one another and the road surface. An experienced mechanic who uses an alignment machine should perform the alignment.
In an alignment shop, your mechanic will most likely hoist your car and use an alignment machine with clamping devices for the wheels. The machine is linked to a computer, and your mechanic makes precise adjustments to a series of measurements to ensure that everything is perfectly aligned.
An alignment entails squaring the wheels and axles of a vehicle so that they all move in the same direction. The mechanic adjusts the various suspension angles that influence tire movement and position, known as toe, thrust, camber, and caster. The technician will also check to make sure the steering wheel is in proper alignment.
The manufacturer of each car specifies standard alignment angles in degrees. If you drive a high-performance or sports car, your mechanic may be able to adjust your suspension to improve handling and tire performance, but this may still result in uneven tire wear.
What are the Types of Alignments?
Alignments are classified into three types: front-end, thrust, and four-wheel. Your vehicle’s suspension determines the type of alignment it will receive. Your mechanic can advise you on the best alignment type for your vehicle.
The front axle is realigned during a front-end alignment. This is the most basic alignment method and is not always preferable for modern vehicles.
A thrust alignment combines a front-end alignment and a thrust alignment to ensure that all four wheels are squared with one another. This type of alignment is typically preferable for vehicles with a solid rear axle.
This comprehensive alignment incorporates front-end and thrust-angle alignment elements as well as rear axle angle positioning. Four-wheel alignments are the most common methods on four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles, as well as front-wheel drive vehicles with adjustable/independent rear suspensions.
When do you need a Wheel Alignment?
The following are symptoms that your vehicle may require a wheel alignment:
- Your vehicle is leaning left or right.
- Your tires are deteriorating unevenly or rapidly.
- Even when you’re driving straight ahead, your steering wheel is slanted.
- Squealing sounds are coming from your tires.
Cost of an Alignment
The majority of two-wheel alignments cost between $50 and $75. Alignments for four wheels can range from $100 to $150. To help mitigate uneven tire wear, many mechanics also recommend a tire rotation service in addition to alignment.
Alignments typically take an hour, but if there is something more wrong with your vehicle, such as axle or CV joint damage, it may take longer and cost more. A new axle costs $75 to $150, depending on the make and model of the vehicle, and labor can cost up to twice as much. The CV joint replacement can cost anywhere from $95 to $200 per joint.
Most alignment shop visits should cost between $50 and $70.
How Often Should you get your Wheels Aligned?
It is recommended that your car’s wheel alignment be checked every 6,000 miles or six months. As minor adjustments are required to bring your car to specification and protect your tires from uneven wear.