Common Causes of Wheel Misalignment and How to Avoid Them

Wheel Alignment: Examples of correct and Incorrect Wheel Alignment

Wheel misalignment can lead to a host of issues that affect your vehicle’s safety and performance. From maintaining stability and handling to improving fuel efficiency and reducing the risk of accidents, properly aligned tires are crucial for a smooth and safe driving experience.

In this article, we will explore common issues caused by wheel misalignment, the causes of misalignment, signs to watch out for, and how to correct alignment issues.

Importance Of Proper Tire Alignment

Having well-aligned tires also translates into better stability, handling, and shorter braking distances because all four wheels will be working together seamlessly rather than “fighting” against each other.

In turn, this leads to significant improvements in both overall vehicle performance and fuel economy since less energy is wasted overcoming friction from misaligned wheels.

Common Issues Caused By Wheel Misalignment

  • One common issue attributed to wheel misalignment is uneven tire wear, which reduces the lifespan of tires and necessitates premature replacement.
  • Another problem caused by wheel misalignment is reduced fuel efficiency due to increased rolling resistance. When tires are not correctly aligned, their contact with the road surface is suboptimal, forcing your engine to work harder and consume more fuel in order to maintain speed.
  • Furthermore, poorly aligned tires can negatively impact handling and cause steering challenges such as pulling to one side or vibrations at high speeds.

Causes Of Wheel Misalignment

Potholes that cause wheel misalignment

Potholes, curbs, and rough roads

Normal wear and tear over time, along with the effects of potholes, curbs, and rough roads are the most common cause of wheel misalignment.

Speed Bumps that cause wheel misalignment

Zooming Over Speed Bumps

When drivers drive at high speeds over speed bumps, they put their car’s tires and suspension system under tremendous stress that can ultimately result in misaligned wheels.

This impact can cause damage to the shocks, struts, and other components responsible for maintaining proper alignment. The best way to avoid such a situation is by slowing down when driving over speed bumps or rough roads.

Car Suspension System

Neglect Of Suspension System

Over time, suspension components such as shock absorbers, struts, control arms, ball joints, and tie rods wear out due to normal use.

Signs Of Wheel Misalignment

1. Uneven Tire Wear

Uneven Tire Wear - Cupping, Side wear and Centre Wear

Uneven tire wear is a common sign of wheel misalignment that often goes unnoticed until it becomes a bigger issue. This type of wear occurs when certain areas of the tire tread are more worn down than others.

2. Vehicle Pulling To One Side While Driving

Vehicle Pulling To One Side While Driving

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to keep your car going straight, with the vehicle pulling to one side while driving, it may be a sign of wheel misalignment.

3. Steering Wheel Off-center

Uncentered Car Steering Wheel

If you notice that your steering wheel appears to be off-centered, it could also be a sign of wheel misalignment.

Avoiding Wheel Misalignment

  • Take proper care of your vehicle’s suspension. Regularly inspecting and servicing components such as shock absorbers, struts, ball joints and tie rod ends can go a long way in preventing issues with wheel alignment.
  • Make sure you have your wheels aligned correctly after any major repairs or replacements are made on your vehicle.
  • It’s important to be cautious while driving on potholed or uneven roads, avoiding curbs, bumps, and other road hazards and being mindful of road conditions by adjusting your driving accordingly.
  • Even minor bumps such as hitting a curb can throw off your vehicle’s alignment angles which leads to uneven tire wear and decreased fuel efficiency over time.

How Can You Correct Wheel Alignment Issues?

Get a professional wheel alignment check and adjustment: A trained technician can accurately measure the camber, toe, and caster angles of your tires and make any necessary adjustments to restore proper alignment.

Final Words

Proper tire alignment is a critical aspect of vehicle maintenance that should never be overlooked. Don’t let worn-out suspension components, rough roads, or improper installation lead to costly and potentially dangerous misalignment issues.

Regular inspections and maintenance, safe driving practices, and timely replacement of tires can help avoid these problems altogether. Remember, a well-aligned vehicle not only ensures safety but also improves handling, fuel efficiency, and the longevity of your tires.