How Often Should You Get a Tire Alignment Done?
It's a question that drivers often ask: “Do I really need a tire alignment?” In short, the answer is often yes, but let's go into more details, find out why it's important and learn about the common problems associated with misaligned wheels. How often should you get an alignment, and should you bother after getting new tires? Let's find out what's needed.
What is a tire alignment?
The system that connects the wheel to the rest of your car is sometimes off by a fraction, causing massive issues, and a tire alignment corrects that system, fixing the angle where your tire hits the ground. A technician will check the “camber” (which affects how the tires hit the road), the “toe” (which resembles when a human's foot is “Pidgeon toed” or “duck-footed”) and the “caster angle” (which is the displacement of the steering axis). All three of these should be corrected after a wheel alignment, and need to be done by a professional.
What does an alignment do?
A wheel alignment fixes the way the wheel connects to the rest of the car, ensuring that the tires are hitting the road at the correct angle, that they are not “toed-in” or toed-out and that there isn't undue stress being put on the suspension and steering systems. This is important for a number of reasons.
A misaligned wheel can do the following to your car:
- Makes the vehicle pull toward one side
- Puts stress on your vehicle's suspension system
- Causes steering issues on the highway and at high speeds
- Causes your steering wheel to sometimes vibrate, veer to one side or become too loose
- Increases your risk of an accident
- Affects braking and handling
- Makes it so that your turn signal doesn't automatically cancel after turning
- Leads to poor gas mileage due to tire drag
- Wears out tires faster and unevenly
Not having an aligned wheel can negatively impact your car's longevity and performance and can lead to costly repairs as well as a poor driving experience.
How often do you need an alignment?
Generally, it's a good idea to align your tires once per year or twice per year if you travel on rough roads and bridges.
You should also align your wheel in these situations:
- After an accident
- After an impact on a pothole or road debris
- After bumping a curb
- After your vehicle has been hoisted or lifted in the air
- After any suspension parts have been replaced
- After getting new tires put on
- After experiencing unusually fast tire wear (needing to replace tires every few months)
- After experiencing any of the symptoms of a misaligned wheel (above)
In Jacksonville, there are quite a few roads famous for potholes, highway construction projects and other issues that might pop your wheels out of alignment, so locals may want to get this done twice per year depending on how often they drive. Getting a feel for your car's normal steering can help you figure out how often to align tires on your car.
Do you need an alignment with new tires?
Yes, it's a good idea to get a wheel alignment when you get new tires put on, as it can avoid uneven wear on your treads, poor gas mileage and extremely fast wear-and-tear. With a good alignment, your tire should last tens of thousands of miles, depending on its specs. But with a bad tire alignment, you should expect to buy new tires within a few months.
When people ask, “Do I need an alignment with new tires?” the answer is really another question: “Do you want to spend money on new tires again in only a few months?”
How long does an alignment take?
Not including waiting time, a normal wheel alignment on a car should take about one hour on average. Large trucks can sometimes take longer. If this alignment uncovers a major suspension issue, obviously this might take longer, and the mechanic should contact you with more details.
So, those wondering how often to get alignment in the hopes of putting it off should know that it's not too much of a hassle at all!
Where can I get an alignment done?
Those wondering where to get an alignment done in Jacksonville, Florida, can come to us! You can get a wheel alignment with us; we have several locations in the area. When you're wondering, “Is there any place to get a tire alignment near me?”, see if you're close to our locations. If you're not in Northern Florida, check in with your dealer or local repair shop. Get it done and lower your risk of an accident today.