If you're not sure just when you should get your car's tires aligned, you aren't alone: many car manufacturers don't list alignment as one of the maintenance needs of a vehicle. Your tires are often aligned when you first have them put on your car, but after that, it's often up to you to watch for the signs of when they need to be aligned again.
Your car's alignment is very important to helping extend the life of your tires and ensure they all wear more evenly. Alignment is the process of adjusting your tires so they touch the ground evenly and often involves rotating your tires for even wear as well. Here are common signs you should watch out for so you know just when to take your vehicle into a tire shop for a few adjustments, and ways you can help your tires last longer.
Your Car Won't Drive Straight
One of the most common ways to tell if your car needs to have its tires aligned is to test how "straight" it drives when you are not manipulating the steering wheel. At low speeds and with no surrounding traffic, gently touch your steering wheel while letting your vehicle drive straight on its own. If you have an alignment issue, your car will pull to the right or left, causing you to correct your vehicle promptly.
You may also notice your car veering off in either direction slightly when you are driving on long stretches of highway or freeway roads. This symptom can be an alignment issue, or your tires could be turned the wrong way, which happens occasionally with regular driving and can be repaired easily. Make note of when you first started noticing these changes in your car and which direction it swerves off to, and relay this information to your mechanic.
Your Car Has Encountered a Few Pot Holes
While, in some cases, an alignment problem is due to regular wear, it can also be caused by certain roadway circumstances. Driving through pot holes, hitting a curb, going over speed bumps or train tracks at fast speeds or bouncing off a sloping driveway can all impact the way your car's tires operate.
If your car has encountered some rough driving lately, then pay attention to these following signs of alignment or other tire issues that you should bring to your mechanic's attention:
- Shaking steering wheel when driving (vibrations)
- Uneven tire wear (waves or exposed tread)
- Veering off to one side when driving
How to Make Your Tires Last
The way you drive can greatly affect how long your tires last. Avoid pot holes, ditches and bumpy roads to keep your tires in healthy condition. You also want to make sure to always keep your tires properly inflated and have them rotated regularly to ensure even wear. Your tire shop expert can show you how to properly inflate your vehicle's tires safely.
Stick to tires that are appropriate for your vehicle's make and model. Tires that are too large or small can wear out quickly and can also cause damage to your vehicle. Talk to your auto or tire shop expert to see what tires will work best for the way you drive and the type of vehicle you have. Whether you need your tires balanced or you want to have your alignment checked, our experts at All American Discount Tires are here to help you. Explore our large variety of tire brands for replacing your current tires as well.