How Often Should You Get A Wheel Alignment? - Enji


How Often Should You Get A Wheel Alignment?

April 12, 2022

Having correctly aligned wheels on your vehicle is crucial for safety. But how often should you get a wheel alignment?

Typically, it’s recommended that you have your wheels aligned at least every 2 - 3 years. Of course, it’s important to have your vehicle serviced regularly, and if required your wheels may need to be aligned more regularly.

What is a wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment is when the wheels of a car are at an angle proportionate to each other, and the body of the car. 

The wheels must be parallel, commonly according to the specifications from the manufacturer - based on the model, make, and year. After the wheels are aligned to be parallel to each other, they are then adjusted to be perpendicular towards the ground. This means the wheels are not off-balance when driving. 

To make the wheels align parallel and perpendicularly, a wheel alignment procedure is followed by a mechanic or other specialist, through vehicle suspension. 

When there is correct wheel alignment, the wheels are positioned for optimal function alongside the steering wheel and breaks. 

Specialists recommend having wheel alignment checks every 10,000km, or when warning signs start to appear. Mechanics will often check the alignment of the wheels during a regular service check up, which is generally twice a year. 

How to tell if you need a wheel alignment

There are some telltale signs that you need a wheel alignment:

  • Off-balance steering while driving straight 
  • Unusual noises while steering 
  • Lack of control over the steering wheel - pulling from left to right 
  • Rapid or uneven tyre wear 
  • Noisy tyres while driving

These issues could occur after the following incidents have happened: 

  • Hitting a curb 
  • Driving under conditions different from the usual, e.g. dirt roads, heavy rainfall, heavily loaded car
  • Not enough air in the tyres 
  • Suspension or steering repairs that need maintenance 

What can cause alignment problems?

The most common cause of alignment problems is when the wheels experience a sudden and harsh impact, for example, hitting a curb or driving under difficult conditions. An impact can cause wheel misalignment very easily, making it a consideration for many to watch where they are going and have spatial awareness. 

Misalignment can be caused through regular wear and tear of the tyres, which is why specialists recommend replacing your old tyres for new ones around the ten year mark. However, they should be checked regularly to ensure their condition remains stable. 

Unexpected impacts can decrease tyre durability, which has flow on effects for wheel alignment. 

Not only do the wear and tear of tyres impact alignment problems, but also wear and tear in the front end and suspension. When parts are worn they need to be replaced, and this is no exception. 

If you have previously had wheel misalignment due to worn parts, you will be aware the parts need maintenance every so often. If this is a new problem it is something you can keep an eye out for next car check up. 

What are the benefits of a wheel alignment?

The benefits of a wheel alignment include safety while driving, and optimal performance for the vehicle. 

Wheel alignment is important for many reasons, the top reason being safety. You cannot safely drive in a car with uneven wheels as it makes steering incredibly difficult. 

Having difficulty steering is generally the first sign a driver notices when they need a wheel alignment, because it creates a disproportionate spatial awareness when driving - you might not be driving where you think you are! 

Other than safety, poor wheel alignment contributes to tyre wear and tear, suspension errors, and issues with breaks. Tyres are notorious for their expense, and replacing them prematurely due to an avoidable incident is worthwhile looking into. 

To ensure your car is properly maintained and optimised for its functionality, making sure the wheel alignment is correct is one of the first steps.

Cost of a wheel alignment

The cost of a wheel alignment differs from car to car, as each car model has different alignment measurements. 

The standard price for a wheel alignment is approximately $50 for a regular car, however, 4WD vehicles typically cost more due to their size and complications. 

Prices for a wheel alignment for 4WD vehicles can range between $120 - $150 as a base price, with increases possible depending on the intricacies of the car model. 

Sometimes, the cost of a wheel alignment is covered under your car maintenance costs when taken to a mechanic. Your mechanic will inform you if this is included in your service and final price. 

If your steering is off or your tyres just don’t seem right, chances are something is going on with your wheel alignment. Whether it be the tyres or suspension, a professional mechanic will be able to assist your needs for wheel alignment.