Proper alignment of the wheels of your car ensures your tyres meet the road at the correct angle. A good wheel alignment will minimize the resistance your tyres create so that all the tyres roll smoothly and in line with one another.
Even something as seemingly minor as hitting a curb can throw off your wheel alignment and cause more issues down the road if you keep driving without addressing the issue. Let’s take a look at why wheel alignment is so important, and when to get your car’s wheels aligned.
Why is wheel alignment so important?
Proper wheel alignment ensures your car is set up for the best fuel economy, proper road contact, a smooth drive, and the longest life for your tyres. An issue with wheel alignment, even a seemingly minor one, can lead to expensive consequences. Maintaining proper wheel alignment is a great way of safeguarding your vehicle against problems down the road, as well as avoiding safety issues while driving.
Misaligned wheels will lead to much faster wear and tear on your tyres, as well as uneven wear. This will mean you need to replace your tyres much sooner than usual. Driving with worn tyres, or tyres that have experienced uneven wear can be very dangerous. In addition, you will likely notice a decrease in the comfort of your drive.
Driving without proper wheel alignment can also damage your brakes and the suspension of your car. This is another safety issue when driving the car, and can be very costly to fix.
The poor tyre tread or unevenly worn tyres can affect your car’s ability to stop, especially in inclement weather. Driving with wheels that are misaligned is dangerous for you, your family, and others on the road.
How wheel alignment works
There are three main elements of wheel alignment: the camber angle, caster angle and toe angle. These all refer to the different angles in which your wheels should be positioned in relation to one another and the road. If these angles are out of whack, it can cause big issues for your tyres and your driving experience.
Mechanics and service centers have the know-how and the equipment to check the camber, caster, and toe angles and rectify the problem if needed.
Signs your wheels need to be aligned
If you experience the following signs when driving, it’s possible you have a wheel alignment issue.
- The car is pulling to one side of the road
- Uneven wear on your tyres, or premature wearing of tyre treads
- Squealing noise from your tyres
- The steering wheel vibrates when you’re driving
- The steering wheel is off-center when driving straight
Common causes of misaligned wheels
Here are some of the common causes of misaligned wheels.
- Low tyre pressure
- Impacts – such as hitting a curb or pothole
- Going too fast over a speed bump
- Other disturbances to the suspension
- Regular wear and tear from normal use
- Being involved in an accident
- Incorrectly executed vehicle modifications such as lifting
How to avoid misaligned wheels
You should regularly check your tyre pressure, and add more air to your tyres as needed. It’s simple to check your own tyre pressure and fix it yourself in between services, and avoid your wheels becoming misaligned.
While you should certainly do your best to drive safely and avoid hitting curbs and potholes, there’s no way to completely avoid misaligned wheels. Driving your car will, over time, lead to normal wear and tear on your tyres. This is why it’s important to regularly get your tyres checked, even if you haven’t experienced any obvious events that would misalign your tyres.
When to get your wheels realigned
It’s vital to get your car regularly serviced and ensure they check your wheel alignment every 10,000km, or at least once a year. That being said, if you notice any signs of wheel misalignment (such as pulling to the side of the road when you’re driving, or uneven wear on your tyres) get it booked in at a service centre sooner rather than later to avoid doing further damage.
If you hit a curb or pothole or are involved in an accident (even minor), get your wheel alignment checked. Don’t wait until your next scheduled service, as you may do further damage to your tyres and your car.
When you get your car serviced or wheel alignment checked, only go to a reputable service centre, as they will have the right equipment to realign your wheels and ensure your car is safe to drive. To check the wheel alignment for your Mazda, book in with a trusted Mazda service centre in Perth where they use only genuine Mazda parts.