Improperly-inflated tires can consume 2% more fuel than properly-inflated tires.
Unfortunately, not a lot of motorists are aware that their tires lack proper pressure. What’s more, not all drivers know that alignment issues can be the culprit behind these tire woes.
As if that not’s enough, misalignment can increase your risks of getting into an accident. That’s why it’s vital that you learn how to tell if you have alignment problems.
To that end, we’ve come up with this ultimate guide that lists the top signs of bad alignment. Read on to learn all about them and what to do as soon as you notice them.
Table of Contents
1. Crooked Steering Wheel
When you drive on a completely flat and even road, your steering wheel should also be straight. It should be level, with the emblem (or logo) centered and straight too.
If not, then that’s a solid indication of misalignment. In this case, you should take your vehicle in for an alignment as soon as possible.
2. Shaky Steering Wheel
If your steering wheel vibrates as you drive, then it may be due to misaligned wheels. It may also be an indication of unbalanced tires, or in some cases, warped brake rotors.
Always remember that a steering wheel should be level, and it should never be shaky, nor should it vibrate a lot. So if yours does, then that only means something is wrong. It’s best to drive straight to a professional auto repairs shop if you experience this issue.
3. Your Car Swerves or Drifts to One Side
Have you noticed your vehicle swerving or drifting to either the left or right? If so, then know that this one of the most common symptoms of bad alignment.
It likely means that your wheels are no longer positioned in the “right angle.” In this case, they no longer make proper contact with the road.
However, keep in mind that the condition of the road itself may also cause your ride to pull to one side. To confirm if it’s the road or your vehicle, try doing the test below on a flat, straight road with little to no traffic.
First, be sure that there is no vehicle in front, behind, and on either side of your ride. If you don’t see any, take your hands off the steering wheel for a few seconds to let it guide or drive itself. Pay attention to the road in front of you to see if your car still drives straight or if it already pulls to one side.
If it does swerve or drift, regain control of the wheel and straighten up your vehicle again. Once the steering wheel is level, do the test again.
If your ride does the same antic of pulling to one side, then that’s a sign of bad alignment. Take that as your cue to bring your vehicle in for servicing. The sooner you do, the sooner you can make your car drive straight and safe once more.
Do note that malfunctioning brakes can also make your vehicle pull to one side. In this case, you may be dealing with stuck brake calipers. As with alignment issues, bad brakes also warrant immediate repairs (or replacements).
4. A Loose Steering Wheel
A loose or sloppy steering wheel is another of the most noticeable signs you need a wheel alignment. It’s also one of the symptoms you should never ignore, as it can be dangerous. For one, your car would require more time to respond to your “instructions” if it has a loose steering wheel.
There’s also the added hazard of a vehicle pulling to one side due to alignment issues.
So, aside from a decreased response time, your car may also start swerving to the left or the right. That’s why you should have your car tuned-up, especially the wheels, as soon as you notice these signs.
5. Uneven Tire Wearing
“Crooked” wheels can cause uneven wearing of your tires. Now, keep in mind that the legal minimum tire tread depth is 1/16 of an inch in Ohio. Any less than this can be a road hazard, as excessive tire tread wearing can lead to a significant friction loss.
In fact, researchers say that 1/16 of an inch may not be enough to prevent friction loss. That’s why they recommend increasing the minimum tread depth requirements for safety reasons.
In any case, it’s best that you avoid driving on unevenly- or excessively-worn tires. At the same time, you want to get your ride inspected for alignment problems. Unless you fix its alignment, then your new tires would only end up developing uneven wearing too.
6. Tire Pressure Woes
Four in five motorists in the US drive on underinflated tires. Some (like race car drivers) do this to increase the area of tire contact on dry road conditions. However, most others aren’t aware of their tire pressure issues or the damage they can cause.
For starters, incorrect tire pressure can result in or contribute to vehicle accidents. Indeed, in 2017, over 700 fatal crashes occurred due to tire-related reasons.
With that said, unintentional loss of tire pressure can be a result of misalignment. Since it can be dangerous, it’s also one of the most serious signs you need an alignment. Have your ride checked out by a professional technician in Columbus, OH, as soon as possible.
Never Ignore Alignment Issues
As you can see, there are many ways to tell if you’re dealing with alignment issues. Many of them are visible, such as an off-center steering wheel or uneven tire wearing. What’s vital is to get your vehicle serviced as soon as you notice these signs of misalignment.
If you’re in or near Columbus, Ohio, know that our team here at ATL Columbus is ready to help. Feel free to get in touch with us for free estimates or schedule your vehicle for an alignment job.