Wheel misalignment can result from a number of causes, including rough roads, uneven tire wear over long periods of time, and collisions. In fact, even one-car and minor multi-car accidents can significantly skew wheel alignment.
While wheel alignment issues may not exhibit many visible symptoms, you can determine if your car is misaligned by looking for the characteristics listed in our previous blog, “Are Your Tires Aligned? 6 Signs That You Need a Wheel Alignment Service.”
You may wonder, however, if you really need to take your vehicle in for professional wheel alignment services. Unfortunately, many drivers make the mistake of thinking that because misalignment is mostly invisible that this issue can wait.
In this blog, we list six of the fundamental reasons to have your wheel alignment assessed and corrected as soon as possible after an accident or after you notice the symptoms of misalignment.
- Brake System Damage
While misalignment initially appears just in the wheels of your vehicle, the imbalance often leads to other complications as you drive on the crooked wheels. One common long-term effect of misalignment is brake system damage.
Misalignment can cause uneven braking, which lengthens your stopping distance, reduces your brake system life expectancy, and increases the risk of brake failure in high-speed situations.
- Decreased Vehicle Safety
In addition to long-term safety concerns, such as brake system damage, your alignment problem can cause immediate safety issues. Most cars with misalignment tend to favor one side over the other. Some cars may drift to one side, while others pull with a fair amount of force.
This asymmetrical handling dramatically affects your safety on the road. When your car is misaligned, a moment of distraction could lead to your vehicle drifting or driving itself into parallel traffic lanes, onto the shoulder, or into nearby stationary objects.
- Excess Tire Wear and Tear
Misalignment places an enormous amount of stress on every part of your car, but your tires suffer the most from this tension. The strain of poor alignment may tilt or turn your tires so they don’t all have the same contact with the road.
As you drive, this tire positioning causes uneven and excessive tire wear and tear. Not only does this wear and tear reduce the lifespan of your tires, but irregular treads can reduce your vehicle’s handling ability.
For example, when tires have uneven tread, the rubber has less traction in wet conditions. Even if you have newer tires, these tires may not provide the traction necessary to make it up hills, avoid hydroplaning, and recover from encounters with ice if you live in a wet or wintery climate.
- Increased Fuel Consumption
If you have ever looked for solutions to decrease your vehicle’s fuel consumption, you know that any friction, inside or outside your vehicle, will force the engine to work harder, increasing the amount of gas your car needs to drive a certain distance.
The same tension that causes your vehicle to pull to one side or the other, as well as uneven tire wear, also increases your vehicle’s fuel consumption. The changes to your gas budget may depend on the extent of your alignment issue. For example, the misalignment caused by a moderate collision will have more impact on fuel economy than minor misalignment.
Because misalignment causes automotive systems, tire, and fuel consumption issues, many drivers find that paying for an alignment service immediately is more cost-effective than paying for the service and the related repairs in the future.
- Poor Handling and Steering Control
In addition to the inherent safety concerns about a car that drifts or pulls to the side, a misalignment can also complicate your normal driving activities. You may find yourself frustrated by the increased difficulty of controlling your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment.
You may notice these effects most when turning or operating your vehicle at high speeds. Unfortunately, keeping your turn radius small and your steering precise can also raise your risk of an accident.
- Potential Suspension Complications
While wheel misalignment can affect numerous automotive structures, the two most vulnerable are the braking and suspension systems. Wheel misalignment tilts or turns your vehicle frame, which changes the amount of pressure exerted on suspension components during operation.
Over time, you may notice a bumpier and noisier ride due to the wear on and eventual failure of suspension parts due to alignment issues.
When deciding which maintenance your vehicle needs, prioritize alignment services for the reasons listed in this blog. If you are unsure whether or not your car is actually out of alignment in the wake of a collision or after driving over rough terrain, have the alignment checked by a professional.
For comprehensive collision services, including professional wheel alignment, trust the experienced team at Central Body Company, Inc.