Once you buy a car, you need to keep your wheels and tires in perfect condition for your safety and that of other motorists.
However, when you have a bad wheel alignment, you’ll notice some changes with your car. So, what exactly are the symptoms of a bad wheel alignment? Here are the common things to look out for!
Wheel Alignment Symptoms
Poor wheel alignment compromises your tire’s lifespan, your car’s suspension, and your steering wheel. Symptoms for bad alignment include the car veering to the side, a loose steering wheel, uneven tire wear, squealing tires, and a vibrating steering wheel. Overall, having bad tire alignment affects how your vehicle maneuvers on the road.
To learn more about bad wheel alignment symptoms such as a vibrating steering wheel, uneven tire wear, uneven steering wheel, and more, keep reading for more facts!
What Are The Symptoms Of Wheel Alignment?
Poor wheel alignment occurs due to poor maintenance, eventually leading to tire failure, which is one of the leading causes of tire-related car crashes.
But how can you know if your tires have a bad alignment? Listed below are some of the common symptoms:
1. Vibrating Steering Wheel
While you can feel the rough roads and bumps when driving, you shouldn’t be able to feel your steering wheel moving. Therefore, if you feel vibrations on your wheel, this indicates that the alignment of your wheels is off.
Once your steering wheel begins vibrating, you could lose control over your car due to reduced response time, which can be very dangerous.
You may not feel the vibrations when driving on paved roads in town at a slower speed, as they become prominent when driving at a higher speed on the highway due to tires rotating faster.
However, a vibrating steering wheel may be caused by unbalanced tires or an issue more severe. Therefore, once you feel these movements, you are recommended to take your car to a professional mechanic who can identify the specific problem and correct it.
Note that if you don’t have this issue addressed immediately and have the wheels aligned, the vibrations will worsen and compromise your grip and ability to drive safely.
2. Uneven Tire Wear
Tire wear is a perfect indicator of how your vehicle is performing. Ideally, all your tires should wear out evenly as long as they’re properly rotating and covering the same mileage.
Tires that have been correctly aligned have the same tread depth, meaning you should measure the depth on all sides of the tire to confirm whether there’s a problem.
In most countries, the legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm, so you’ll need to check whether your tires are within the limit.
When your wheels aren’t properly aligned, you’ll start noticing that the treads on some of your tires are wearing out much faster, specifically on one side or edge, which affects the quality of your ride.
However, if you have normal tire wear, you’ll enjoy the smoothest rides and can replace all your tires at the same time.
Like other issues, abnormal tire wear can also be due to other problems in your vehicle. Therefore, you should have a professional mechanic confirm the real issue.
3. Vehicle Pulling To One Side
When driving, test how your car behaves by letting go of the steering wheel for a minute or two and observe whether the vehicle moves in a straight line.
If the vehicle tends to drift to one side, your wheels need to be aligned immediately to prevent you from losing control over your car.
When testing, the more your car pulls away from the straight line, the worse the alignment is, and if you don’t address this problem at once, you’re more likely to drift into the other lanes which may result in a serious accident.
4. Uneven Steering Wheel
If you drive on a straight and flat road, your steering wheel should also remain perfectly centered. Once the emblem moves to the right or the left, this is an indication that your wheels need to be aligned.
To confirm this, you should check whether the logo in the middle of the steering wheel is centered, and if it tips in either direction, you need to take your vehicle in for an alignment.
This symptom is more evident if your car is a front-wheel-drive vehicle and less obvious on all-wheel and four-wheel-drive cars.
However, during alignment, your mechanic ensures that your tires align with the steering column, which eliminates the side pull as you drive.
5. Loose Steering Wheel
When driving, you should get a specific feel and response from the steering wheel, and you should also know how your steering wheel behaves under normal circumstances.
Therefore, if you notice that you’re turning the wheel with minimal effort or your steering wheel feels loose, you need to check your alignment.
In fact, a sloppy steering wheel is quite dangerous because you’ll have reduced response time when turning, increasing your risks of getting into an accident.
Therefore, to avoid dangerous situations, have your mechanic check the steering wheel as soon as possible.
6. Squealing Tires
As your tires wear out due to misalignment issues, they start squealing as the vehicle accelerates or makes turns, so as your alignment worsens, the squealing increases.
However, this can also be due to other problems. Therefore, you should consult your mechanic for a proper diagnosis.
To know more about tires, you can also see our posts on what is tire alignment, how long will tires last with bad alignment, and how to reduce road noise from tires.
When driving, poorly aligned tires will show symptoms such as the car drifting to the side, a loose steering wheel, uneven tire wear, squealing tires, and a vibrating steering wheel. As soon as you notice any of these signs, it would be best if you saw a mechanic.
To avoid bad wheel alignment issues, you should have your tires aligned every time you buy new tires or hit potholes. Additionally, you should get re-aligned if you’ve yet to do so in over a year.