How Often Do You Need A Wheel Alignment?
Just like changing your oil or replacing the air filters, taking your vehicle in for regular tire alignments is an essential responsibility for vehicle owners looking to keep their vehicles in proper (and safe) working condition. However, unlike oil change recommendations and other general maintenance tasks, your owner’s manual likely doesn’t say anything about how often you need a wheel alignment. And this is because too many variables are in play surrounding the topic. So how often DO you need a wheel alignment? Basically, if you notice your vehicle start to pull to the right or left while driving or your steering wheel is susceptible to shaking even while traveling on smooth surfaces, it’s likely time for an alignment. However, if you aren’t sure, your tire professional will be able to say confidently if you’re due for an alignment or if the problem stems from elsewhere.
Wheel Alignment Factors
Generally speaking, you’ll want to get your vehicle’s wheels at least checked for proper alignment once a year or every other oil change. If you’re looking for a numerical value, most tire professionals will cite the 6,000-mile figure as a rule of thumb. Newer cars may go much more than that whereas older vehicles may require alignments more frequently, so take that 6,000 figure with a grain of salt. The actual frequency at which your vehicle will need its wheels aligned is dependent on a number of factors. Factors including…
Type of tires
Sporty cars or vehicles with wider tires typically require wheel alignments more frequently than narrower tires. In addition, you always want to make sure that your tires are properly inflated to their recommended PSI. Driving on one or more low tires, apart from being incredibly dangerous, can affect your vehicle’s alignment and have you back in the shop sooner than later. In addition, you should always get your wheels aligned after having one or more new tires installed or repaired regardless of style or brand.
Type of driving
The frequency at which your tires will need realigning is also dependant upon the type of driving you’re doing. A vehicle that sees nothing but highway miles is likely going to hold its alignment better than one subjected to uneven dirt and rock roads on a regular basis.
If your car sustains any sort of impact, even a minor impact, you’ll want to check your wheels for any sort of visible damage and get your car in for an alignment check right away. For intents and purposes of this bullet point, an impact may include a minor collision with another vehicle, a run-in with a pothole or curb, or any other instance that might have an effect on the placement of your wheels.
Many newer vehicles come equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) which are designed to keep drivers safe by offering lane departure warnings, collision braking, and other benefits. While these systems don’t necessarily prolong or shorten the duration between alignments, it is imperative that you have these systems recalibrated every time you have your tires aligned. For instance, if your steering angle is off, your vehicle’s ADAS may think you’re venturing into another lane when you’re not. If these systems are not calibrated and working cohesively with one another, they could be doing more harm than good.
So how often do you need a wheel alignment? It depends. But if your vehicle is due for its annual tire alignment check, or if you suspect it might be time for an alignment for another reason, stop by your local Telle Tire & Auto Centers location for fast, reliable, and cost-effective service. We’ve been serving St. Louis and Kansas City markets for more than 75 years and would be more than happy to help you diagnose the problem and get you back on the road in a safe vehicle. Contact us today to learn more.