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Do I Need my Wheels Aligned?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Wheel alignment is a common service that is offered by most service stations. However, some people are unsure of what type of circumstances may result in a need to have wheels aligned. Here are a few examples of conditions that can result in a need to have wheel and tire alignment performed.

One of the more common misconceptions is that it is absolutely necessary to have wheels aligned when having the tires on the vehicle rotated. The truth is that an alignment may or may not be necessary. If the vehicle seems to pull in one direction or another after the rotation, then having the wheels aligned is necessary if the tires are to wear evenly. However, not all models will require realigning simply due to tire rotation. Consult with your mechanic to determine if the make and model of your vehicle is known to require aligning wheels after each rotation.

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Often, it may be necessary to have the wheels aligned if your car or truck is driven over rough roads on a regular basis. Road conditions such as potholes and uneven lanes can cause the tires to slowly get out of line. Along with adverse road conditions, those speed bumps in many parking lots can also cause the same problem over time. Should you notice that the vehicle begins to pull even slightly in one direction, have the wheels aligned. In the long run, you will lengthen the life of the tires and save a great deal of money.

Keep in mind that uneven wear shows up on the front tires first. Even if you have not noticed the car beginning to pull slightly in one direction, it is a good idea to check the status of the tires at least on a monthly basis. If you notice that the wear on the tread is not even, then schedule a time to take the car in and have the wheels aligned.

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Buster29
Post 2

Every so often, I'll drive down a side road and take my hands off the wheel briefly to see what the car does on its own. If the car keeps going straight, I don't worry about getting an alignment during the next scheduled tire rotation. They may try to talk me into one, but I won't agree unless it's a free service.

There was one time when I noticed the inner part of the front tires were starting to get worn down, and the car would lurch out of alignment once in a while. I took the car to the shop and the mechanic said the front tires were "toeing in". The parts that usually held the tire straight up and down were badly worn, and the tires were rubbing up against metal. I definitely needed an alignment to fix that problem. My tires could have blown out at any time.

AnswerMan
Post 1

Sometimes an auto repair shop wants their customers to agree to several services at the same time, because it makes sense to do things like brake checks and alignments while the tires are off the car. I agree that an alignment isn't strictly necessary during a tire rotation, but if the customer already notices some handling problems or the tires show signs of uneven wear, getting an alignment at that time does make sense.

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