Do I Need Four Wheel Alignment?

Misaligned wheels are a disaster waiting to happen. So, yes, you do need wheel alignment. It’s as simple as that.

Joking – there’s a bit more to it than that. First up, what actually is wheel alignment, and why is it so important? Secondly, how do you know when the time has come to get your wheels back on the straight and narrow?

So, while the short answer is yes, you need wheel alignment, there’s a lot more that goes into it than that. Let’s explore the ins and outs of aligning your wheels, so we can get you hitting the road with confidence.

What is Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment involves more than just straightening the wheels; it requires the expertise of a mechanic and specialised equipment to ensure the suspension system, axles, and tyres are all aligned correctly.

The process involves adjusting the angles of the suspension components to ensure the wheels are set to the manufacturer’s specifications. This includes adjusting the camber, caster, and toe angles. Proper alignment ensures that the tyres make optimal contact with the road, improving handling, reducing tyre wear, and centering the steering wheel for precise control.

By aligning the suspension angles accurately, the vehicle’s wheels are positioned to move in harmony, enhancing both safety and performance.

What’s the Difference Between Two Wheel and Four Wheel Alignment?

To state the obvious, it’s the difference between adjusting two vs. four wheels.

Also known as front-end alignment, two-wheel alignment focuses solely on the front wheels. This type of alignment is typically used for vehicles with a solid rear axle without independent suspension, such as older cars, SUVs and some trucks. During a two-wheel alignment, the mechanic adjusts the angles of the front wheels, but the rear wheels are not adjusted, as they are fixed and follow the direction set by the front wheels.

Four-wheel alignment is a comprehensive process that involves adjusting all four wheels of the vehicle. This type of alignment is necessary for modern cars, which feature adjustable rear suspensions. During this service, the mechanic checks and adjusts the front and rear wheel angles.

The make, model, and specific steering and suspension systems of your vehicle all play a role in determining the type of alignment you need. Most modern vehicles – such as family cars, small 4x4s, and people carriers – typically require four-wheel alignment, especially for all-wheel-drive models. Older cars, on the other hand, may only be able to undergo two-wheel alignment.

To ensure you’re getting the correct service, it’s best to consult with a local garage. Trust the experts – they know best! When it’s time to get your wheels pointing in the right direction, make sure to research the garage you choose. You want experienced professionals with the right equipment to do the job right. Like our team at Vasstech!

5 Signs Your Vehicle Needs Wheel Alignment

Keeping your wheels properly aligned is crucial for a smooth and safe driving experience. Here are five signs that indicate it’s time for a wheel alignment check.

  1. Vehicle Pulls to One Side: Driving on a straight road and your car’s veering off to one side? That’s a clear sign that your wheels are misaligned.
  2. Uneven Tyre Wear: Check your tyre tread for uneven wear. If the tread appears more worn on one side than the other, your wheels are likely out of alignment. Pro tip: Use a 20p coin to check your tread depth. Place the coin in the grooves of your tyre, if the outer band of the 20p isn’t visible, your tread is within the legal limit. If you can see it, your tyres are probably illegal and unsafe.
  3. Steering Wheel is Off-Centre: If your steering wheel is not centred when driving straight, it’s an indication that your wheel alignment is off.
  4. Vibrations: Feeling vibrations or shaking through the steering wheel while driving is often a sign of misaligned wheels.
  5. Squealing Tyres: Misaligned wheels can cause your tyres to make strange noises, such as a squealing sound, especially when turning the wheel.

What Causes My Wheels to Become Misaligned?

Several factors can cause your wheels to become misaligned, affecting your vehicle’s handling and tyre wear. Here are some of the ones we see most frequently:

  • Hitting Potholes: Driving over potholes can jolt your suspension and knock your wheels out of alignment. The impact from hitting a pothole, especially at high speeds, can be significant enough to affect your alignment.
  • Curb Impact: Accidentally hitting or brushing against curbs while driving or parking can alter your wheel alignment. Even a seemingly minor impact can cause misalignment over time.
  • Wear and Tear: Over time, the components of your suspension system can wear out or become loose, leading to misalignment.
  • Accidents: Collisions, even minor ones, can knock your wheel’s out of line.

At the end of the day, every time you drive your car, you’re wearing down the components and putting your wheels at risk. However, that’s what routine maintenance is for, making sure the bits that get worn down or knocked out of shape are replaced and maintained to keep your car running for years to come.

What are the Benefits of Ensuring My Wheels are Aligned?

Proper wheel alignment is more than just a maintenance task – it’s an essential aspect of vehicle care. The benefits of wheel alignment are plentiful, take a look:

Improved Handling:

Properly aligned wheels ensure that your vehicle handles predictably and responds accurately to steering inputs. This enhances overall driving stability and control, meaning you can navigate tricky bends or lane changes with complete ease.

Enhanced Safety:

Misaligned wheels can compromise your vehicle’s stability and traction, increasing the risk of accidents, particularly in emergency situations. Ensuring your wheels are properly aligned helps maintain optimal safety on the road for you and your passengers.

Extended Tyre Life:

Misalignment causes uneven tyre wear, leading to premature tyre degradation and the need for premature replacement. By keeping your wheels aligned, you promote even tyre wear, maximising the lifespan of your tyres and saving you money in the long run.

Improved Fuel Efficiency:

Aligned wheels mean less resistance and smoother rolling, translating to better fuel efficiency. Misaligned wheels, on the other hand, drag your vehicle down, demanding more energy and guzzling more fuel. By keeping your wheels in line, you’re not just saving money at the pump but also reducing your carbon footprint.

Reduced Stress on Suspension Components:

Your vehicle’s suspension works hard to keep you comfortable and in control, but misaligned wheels throw a wrench in the works. They put undue stress on suspension components, leading to premature wear and tear. Proper alignment distributes the weight evenly, giving your suspension a well-deserved break and extending its lifespan.

Next time you hit the road, make sure your wheels are aligned and ready to roll.

Let’s Get Things Straight

From improved handling to extended tyre life, aligned wheels pave the way for smoother rides and lower costs in the long run. So, look out for the signs of poor wheel alignment, or make sure to get yearly check-ups to reap all the benefits.

At Vasstech, we understand the importance of proper wheel alignment, which is why our team of experts is dedicated to providing top-notch alignment services using state-of-the-art technology.

Trust us to keep your wheels aligned and your journey smooth and worry-free. Schedule your tyre alignment service today and experience the difference it makes on the road ahead.

Book in at your local branch