Do you feel your vehicle pulling to the right or left while you’re driving? If so, you might need to get your wheels aligned.
However, it can be intimidating to pull into an auto repair shop parking lot with no idea what to expect. So, how much does a wheel alignment cost? Let’s take a look and see what you could be looking at spending. Let’s get started!
What Is Wheel Alignment?
When your wheels are aligned, your vehicle can travel down the highway efficiently. This helps improve handling, tire longevity, and a much more comfortable ride. Wheel alignment requires an alignment machine to fine-tune your vehicle’s alignment. It’s not something you can do on your own.
The mechanic will measure your tires’ camber, caster, and toe angles. They’ll compare the measurements to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications. They’ll likely communicate the recommended next steps if an adjustment is necessary.
If you’ve been driving with your wheels out of alignment, you’ll likely notice quite a difference once your car is back in alignment. Depending on the severity of your misalignment, your car may even feel completely new.
Is Wheel Alignment the Same As Balancing?
While having your wheels perfectly aligned and balanced will help create a smoother ride and a better driving experience, they’re two different services. Keeping both in check helps prevent premature wear and tear on your tires and damage to your vehicle’s steering and suspension components.
When a mechanic balances your tires, they ensure no imbalances on any wheel assembly. On the other hand, an alignment will adjust the angles of your tires to your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommended specifications.
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How Do You Know if Your Wheels Need Alignment?
There are a few signs you can watch for regarding your vehicle’s wheel alignment. First off, the most major sign is if your vehicle pulls to one side. This will often be more noticeable when you’re driving at higher speeds. If you have to push the wheel in either direction to avoid drifting to one side, you likely need a wheel alignment.
Another significant sign you need a wheel alignment is uneven wear patterns in your tire tread. When your wheels are misaligned, it will cause premature wearing in certain parts of the tires. Experienced tire technicians will often look at uneven tire wear patterns and identify the cause.
Ultimately, you’ll need to take your vehicle to a mechanic to have your vehicle inspected. This is not something you or the average person can diagnose or fix. The service requires very specific tools and equipment to ensure accuracy.
What Does a Wheel Alignment Do?
When a mechanic performs a wheel alignment, they ensure your wheels contact the road according to your vehicle’s manufacturer’s specifications. When a mechanic aligns your wheels correctly, you’ll have an incredibly smooth and comfortable ride, and your tires will wear evenly and last longer.
How Much Does Wheel Alignment Cost?
The cost of a wheel alignment will vary from one shop to another. You also have to consider the make and model of your vehicle. If you need to get a wheel alignment done, you’ll typically see prices ranging from $100 to $250.
Some mechanic shops will offer lifetime alignment packages. These packages will typically require that you have your wheel alignment checked regularly, and the shop will adjust it as necessary. If you usually own your vehicles for a considerable time, these packages can be worth the investment.
How Long Does Wheel Alignment Take?
A typical car care center can perform a wheel alignment in about an hour. However, many car care centers offer various services to customers. Depending on how many other customers are ahead of you in line, you will likely be waiting longer than an hour.
If you’re planning to wait while the shop works on your vehicle, make sure you clarify when checking in regarding the expected time it will take. You don’t want to become frustrated with the service center due to your long wait. In some cases, it’s better to drop off your vehicle and have the shop call you when it’s ready.
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How Often Should You Get an Alignment?
Get your wheels aligned every two or three years. However, it’s typically a good idea to have your alignment checked every 6,000 miles or every other oil change.
Add this to your maintenance schedule. You can catch any issues before they become significant problems or cause premature wear and tear on your tires or other essential components to your vehicle’s suspension system.
Are Wheel Alignments Worth It?
Failing to keep your wheels in alignment can cause some major issues. You’ll not only have an incredibly uncomfortable ride, but you’ll also experience premature wear and tear on your tires. A wheel alignment is most definitely worth it and should be something you keep up to date on all of your vehicles. If not, you better make friends with your local repair shop owner because you’re going to become good friends with them.
How often do you have your alignment checked on your vehicles? Drop a comment below!
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