For many Aussies, your car is a trusted companion on road trip, whether it’s down the coat in summer, or up to the snow in winter. But what happens when your reliable companion starts behaving a bit wonky? One of the common issues affecting a vehicle’s performance is its wheel alignment.
While it might sound technical, understanding the signs of a bad wheel alignment is crucial for every driver. Let’s explore some of the tell-tale signs to watch out for and how to spot when something’s off.
Your car pulls to the left or right
When your vehicle drifts to one side without any steering input, it’s a classic sign of misalignment. Factors that contribute to your car behaving in this manner include:
- Uneven tyre pressure
This can be caused by anything from temperature changes to slow punctures. It’s a good practice to check your tyre pressure every few weeks. Look inside the door for the placard sticker that shows the recommended pressures, which will largely depend on your type of vehicle.
- Component wear or damage
Over time, suspension components like springs and shock absorbers can weaken and result in a lowered suspension. Also, hitting large potholes or speed bumps can jar your vehicle’s suspension, affecting its alignment.
Regular wheel alignment checks, especially after a rough drive, can keep your car running straight and reduce undue tyre wear.
Your steering wheel is crooked
When cruising in a straight line, a tilted steering wheel is a glaring indicator of misalignment. A crooked steering wheel can usually be attributed to:
- Minor accidents or collisions
Even small jolts, like brushing against a gutter, can affect wheel alignment.
- Worn steering components
The aging of vehicles can naturally wear down components. Over time, as these components slack, alignment may shift.
Post any repair or service related to steering, ensure your mechanical workshop checks the wheel alignment.
Your tyres are wearing unevenly
Your tyres offer a wealth of information about your car’s health. Uneven wear patterns not only signal alignment issues but also spell a shorter lifespan for your tyres. Different wear patterns and their implications include:
- Outer or inner edge wear
Prominent wear on the inside or outside edge indicates camber misalignment, which can affect cornering performance.
- Patchy wear
This sporadic wear pattern can result from issues with wheel balancing or failing shock absorbers. This can reduce your car’s overall stability and comfort.
By regularly inspecting tyre treads, you can pre-empt alignment issues and ensure optimal performance.
Your tyres squeal
Distinct, sharp noises, especially during turns or on straight patches of road, should be a cause for concern. This squealing can be due to:
- Misalignment-induced friction
Improper wheel angles can cause tyres to scrape the road awkwardly, leading to the squealing sound.
- Tread deformities
Tyres with uneven treads can be noisy, often tying back to alignment issues.
Beyond the obvious auditory disturbance, squealing tyres can signal deeper alignment or tyre health issues.
Further Implications of bad wheel alignment
Misaligned wheels on your car can lead to a number of other problems, including:
- Reduced fuel efficiency
Misalignment causes increased rolling resistance, making the engine work harder.
- Decreased tyre lifespan
Tyres wear out faster, leading to frequent replacements.
- Strain on the vehicle
Misalignment can strain the car’s suspension and steering components.
Wheel alignment is not just a technical term but a critical aspect of your car’s health. Overlooking it can lead to increased maintenance costs, reduced safety, and an overall compromised driving experience.
For those who value their vehicle’s longevity and their safety, recognising these signs is imperative. If you note any of the above signs, consider it your vehicle’s cry for help.
Remember, when it comes to precision and expertise in wheel alignment and overall car health, the mechanics at Robert St Automotive have your back. Book an appointment with us online today and ensure your car gets the care it deserves.