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Do I Need A Wheel Alignment?

Posted on Nov 19, 2018

Does My Vehicle Need A Wheel Alignment?

Living in Santa Fe, we are constantly dealing with dirt roads, pot holes & several other obstacles that can cause damage to our vehicle’s suspension.  These bumps and divots may seem meaningless at the time, but they can have long lasting effects on your vehicles steering capabilities and tire life.  Unlike some of your other vehicle issues, your check engine light will not detect if your car needs an alignment, so it is always best to have your alignment checked around every 6,000 miles.  You will still need to keep your eyes and ears open for any possible warning signs in between check-ups.  Here are some things you may experience if your car is out of alignment, and other times that an alignment may be necessary:

  1. Your car is pulling to the left or right – If you find yourself on a long straight road, take a look at where your steering wheel is positioned in your hand.  Are you having to tilt it to the left or right in order to keep the vehicle driving in a straight line?  This is a clear sign that your alignment is off and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
     
  2. Your tires are wearing uneven – This can show itself in several different ways.  Different alignment issues can cause different types of wear, so it is best to keep your eyes out for anything abnormal.  Wearing patterns on the inside of the tire, outside of the tire, or even a feathered looking wear pattern should all be taken as warning signs of an alignment issue.  If you want to preserve the life of your tires, get to the shop right away.
     
  3. New tires – Since an alignment can cause uneven wear on your tires, it only makes since to get an alignment done when you buy a new set.  Consider it purchasing some peace of mind for your new investment.
     
  4. Hitting a Curb or Large Pothole – Taking a firm shot to a curb or a pothole can throw your alignment off almost immediately.  Even if you don’t notice an immediate difference, driving a vehicle while it is out of alignment is not optimal for safe driving, or for the health of your vehicle.  If you take a hard shot, it’s better to get your alignment checked right away.

So now you know the warning signs to look for, now you need to know what you can do between check ups to save your alignment:

  1. Driving slow and steady – Taking sharp turns at high speed or even spinning your tires can begin to cause issues with your alignment.  Driving slow and steady can keep your alignment on point and prolong the life of your vehicle.
     
  2. Don’t Drive on Uneven Terrain –  Unless you have to do it, avoid driving on rough, uneven terrain that may be filled with rocks and potholes.  Smooth surfaces will lead to a long lasting driving experience.
     
  3. Avoid large loads – Your vehicles alignment can be effected by the weight that your vehicle is carrying.  Loading the bed of your truck or over filling your trunk can cause your car’s center of gravity to shift.  Driving like this for extended periods of time will eventually cause your vehicle to fall out of alignment.

An alignment is not something that you can fix at home.  They require a professional mechanic and sophisticated equipment to repair properly.  If you are concerned about your vehicle’s alignment, give us a call today and we will be happy to schedule an appointment with you. 

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