It’s always so annoying when I hit a pothole in the road, because it almost always means my wheel alignment was affected. OK, sometimes it’s my fault for bumping the curb…
As part of Tire Safety Week, this installment is about wheel alignment. It’s easy to check if you have an alignment problem, just drive the car. Take it to an open (no cars, people or other objects around), safe (maybe a parking lot) area, drive slowly on a flat, straight path and let go of the steering wheel slightly. If the car starts to drift to the left or the right, your alignment is off.
Just as with tire pressure, ignoring wheel alignment problems can cause more damage than just accelerated tire wear and handling issues. Poor alignment can cause serious damage to the tires, leading to possible vehicle control problems and injury.
The general rule is to have your wheels aligned whenever you are replacing tires, this ensures you are taking the best care of your tire investment. As well, have the alignment checked whenever you take the tires in to be rotated (about every 6,000 – 8,000 miles is recommended).
And of course, if you accidentally drive over that large pothole that jumped out at you from nowhere, check the handling and if you feel the tires pulling the vehicle to the left or the right, get your wheels in for alignment; it will save you gas, extend the life of your tires and possibly save you from an accident.