Not many things will ruin your driving experience in Southwest Florida as a sharp pulling, vibrating, shaking, or unwanted tension in your steering as you are cruising down one of the roads heading out to a day at the beach.
There is good and bad news when this happens…
The bad news is that your alignment is probably off, and it really should be adjusted to prevent additional damage to your vehicle. It's true - an alignment that is off can cause excessive wear and tear on your tires, and uncomfortable driving experience, and an increased risk of being in a collision while out driving.
The good news is that we are almost certain to know what the problem is with your vehicle, so we can quickly handle this problem if we catch it shortly after it becomes an issue. In many cases, this problem can also be prevented with one of our preventative maintenance services, as we will regularly check your alignment.
A tire alignment is an adjustment that is made to the suspension that ensures that the vehicles point straight and that the tilt or angle of the tires is what they are supposed to be. Basically, when the suspension is properly aligned and angled (or cambered in car terms) it makes sure the right part of the tire is in contact with the ground, and your vehicle is going to handle at its absolute best and ensure the longevity of your tires.
We have talked a lot about tires, but they are not the only part of the car that can face wear and tear or damage as the result of poor alignment.
The more out of alignment the tires are on your car, truck, or SUV are, the more likely you are to have these additional problems:
The further off your alignment is, the less effective your braking system is
Your fuel economy is likely to decrease as off-center tires will drag more
Yes, your suspension itself can be damaged if it is out of alignment - this can cause there to be expensive repairs if it is not caught quickly
Poor handling occurs when the alignment is out, and while it might not be noticeable at slower speeds, this will be more problematic at higher speeds
While bringing your vehicle to Legendary Automotive and Truck Service to have our ASE Certified Master Technicians review your car and alignment is a smart move, sometimes you want to know why your vehicle is having trouble, or you might want to know what signs to watch for so you know if the vehicle needs to come in.
Why would my wheels be out of Alignment?
This is a fair question, and it is one that we do get pretty regularly.
The truth is that there are an awful lot of things that can cause your alignment to be off, and when this happens, it can pretty quickly turn into a big deal. Common reasons can be:
Hitting a pothole - the sudden jarring that occurs when you hit a pothole, especially at higher speeds, is a major contributing factor to the overall alignment of your vehicle
Running over a curb - Whether you had to drive over a curb because you didn’t have a choice, or if you clipped a curb while driving, running up on curves shift the stress from being equally shared by all tires to shift. This is guaranteed to cause problems with your alignment and suspension
Hitting a speed bump too fast - similar to potholes and hitting curbs, speed bumps taken to quickly will jar your vehicle and have a good chance of damaging your alignment
Collisions - Obviously, if you are involved in a major accident then the suspension and alignment of your tires is going to be the least of your worries. In a number of instances, however, a collision can be a minor bump, or just cause a dent and no apparent damage. In these cases, these minor collisions can still bring about some major issues with the way your vehicle handles
Simple wear and tear from standard use - Most people don’t want to acknowledge this one, but driving your vehicle normally, safely, and sanely will still cause wear and tear on the parts of the suspension that handle the alignment of your tires. As this happens, worn parts slip, and the result is that your alignment will be off
At this point you are probably very concerned that your alignment is always going to be off… maybe you have put 10,000 miles on the car in the last 6 months, or maybe you regularly clip that one curb making that one turn on your way to work, or maybe you drive a road that has potholes that make your ride unpleasant…
While all of these issues can cause your alignment to worsen, the fact is that there is no guarantee that your vehicle is out of alignment from these minor events. Yes, if you have an older car, or one that is poorly maintained, or if these incidents are occurring at higher speeds then you have a better chance of having a poor alignment.
So what can you do?
Ways to Protect your Alignment
Luckily, there are ways that you can help make sure you do not have any type of major alignment issue. Paying attention to your car, running standard maintenance, and not waiting on getting repairs when something seems like it's off are the best tools that you have at your disposal.
At Legendary Automotive and Truck Service, we will do a full diagnostic when you bring in your vehicle, and this does include us checking the alignment if the vehicle being seen has been run for at least 3,000 miles. While this is the best way to know what your alignment needs, the good news is that there are ways you can tell on your own and know if it is time to get your alignment checked:
When you park your car and the wheels are straight, take a look at your steering wheel. If your steering wheel is not straight when your wheels are, then your alignment is off. The further off-center your steering wheel looks, the further off your alignment is
Similar to the above point, if you are driving and holding the steering wheel steady and find it is pulling hard one direction or another, then the alignment of the vehicle is off and should be checked
If you are holding the wheel steady and it feels like it is vibrating in your hands, then you should get your alignment checked out
Check your tires. If you are seeing uneven wear on the tread of your tires, then it is very likely that your alignment needs to be adjusted
These are the easiest ways for you to check the status of your alignment. If any of these issues are holding true, then you are probably in a position where you should get your vehicle checked out. At Legendary Automotive and Truck Service, we have the best and most experienced technicians, and the best equipment in the Fort Myers area. Bring your car, truck, or SUV to us, and let us get your alignment in check!