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How Do I Know If My Car Needs An Alignment

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  • 29-08-2022
How Do I Know If My Car Needs An Alignment

This article asks: How do I know if my Mercedes needs an alignment? We look at signs your car needs an alignment and how often do you need to get a wheel alignment?

What is Wheel Alignment?

Though the name may suggest, Wheel Alignment, or Tire Alignment, doesn't actually involve adjusting the wheel or tire themselves, but instead the car's alignment systems. Proper alignment is achieved by adjusting the car's suspension and steering, which links your car to its wheels.

The angle of the tires should be adjusted for proper alignment, as this angle affects how the tires interact with the ground below, affecting the driving experience. Check the make, model, and model year, and follow the technician's guidance to avoid misalignment and uneven drives. In this article, we highlight the signs that your car needs an alignment, and how to identify the possible causes of poor wheel alignments. 

Signs your car needs an alignment

Below we break down the key signs that your cars are not properly aligned, and when to book a re-alignment appointment at a garage. 

When the car isn't turning, the steering wheel should be centred and drive perfectly straight, not leaning more toward one direction or the other. If the steering wheel isn't perfectly straight and instead it's leaning to one side by more than 2 to 3 degrees, it's time to get your car's alignment checked and repair any maintenance issues you find.

An easy way to notice the steering wheel is uneven is to look at the car logo or brand emblem situated in the middle of the wheel, if this is slightly crooked, your car is misaligned, and you should book an appointment to get it checked.

A good indication your car needs an alignment is if the vehicle noticeable pulls from one direction to the other by itself when driving down a perfectly straight road. DO NOT take your hands completely off the steering wheel during inspection or testing to see if your car is pulling in one direction or driving straight.

The vehicle shouldn't be expected to drive perfectly straight when your hands are completely off the steering wheel. This is a common misconception as most roads have minor or major crowning, causing vehicle pulls to one side or the other. Other elements can also influence the steering wheel direction, like wind direction and gradient of the road.

Entirely removing your hands from the steering wheel whilst driving is obviously very dangerous and shouldn't be done, even when checking the car's alignment. Pay attention to whether the vehicle is driving straight or pulling to one side.

Uneven or rapid tire wear is a good sign your car's wheel alignment may need to be checked. Uneven wear signifies how different elements of the car have poor alignment, as greater tire wear will be visible on the side holding more pressure regularly.

Abnormal tire wear is easily spotted by a mechanic during a car service or tire rotation, although you can also check yourself to save time and money. 

Poor wheel alignment is noticeable if the car's steering feels unstable or slightly loose. Your car will feel slightly wobbly, and you feel a slight pull to one side, your vehicle won't be driving perfectly straight, and small corrections will be needed from the driver.

Similarly, a vibrating steering wheel is another sign your car has alignment issues and may need a service to be re-aligned. 

When driving your car, after turning a corner, the steering wheel should naturally begin to return to the centre. If this does not happen, and no attempt is made by the steering wheel to return to the middle, it's a good sign that there're issues with your car's alignment.

If you notice alignment issues find an available appointment with an expert technician for a full inspection of your car's alignment.

Do I Need A Wheel Alignment?

If your vehicle has poor wheel alignment, a poor driving experience should be expected. When your vehicle is first rolled onto the roads, it'll be perfectly aligned, with specific tire positioning and angles set by the manufacturer.

The wheel alignment is centred and the car feels like it is driving perfectly straight, as it should when set to the right OEM (original equipment manufacturer) specifications.

As mentioned above driving when the car has alignment issues can lead to various issues, like uneven tire wear, vibrating steering wheel, slight pulls in one direction, and squealing tires.

It can reduce the tire's useful lifespan, in turn costing you more money for additional tire changes, prices for new tires range with make, model and model year.

How Do I Know If My Mercedes Needs An Alignment?

For example, a new low-end tire for a standard car like a Ford or Renault can cost around £45 to £70 each, whilst higher-end tires, for more luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz or BMW, can cost between £200 and £1,000 each! So if you have a more expensive car, ensure wheel alignment is checked regularly so it can be corrected before uneven tire wear demands an expensive replacement.

Proper alignment can increase a tire's useable life by several years, saving you a lot of money, so set a scheduled time to check for issues and stick to it!

How often do you need a wheel alignment? 

Generally, wheel alignment is required at different times for different car makes and models. What's more, how you drive your vehicle, and in what conditions, also play a major role in wheel alignment, and keeping your car driving perfectly straight. Often driving down uneven and bad roads can cause poor alignment, as the car is working harder to continue driving straight.

An uneven road can cause the steering wheel to have a slight pull in one direction, causing abnormal tire wear on one side. Moreover, regularly driving over potholes or bumping into the curb will affect wheel alignment negatively. Other ways to prevent misalignment include checking for correct air pressure, regular oil changes, and inspecting suspension components and the steering column.

Completing wheel alignment sooner will save a lot of money, as it may mean that completely removing the tire isn't necessary, and instead, luckily, tire problems can be fixed before they get worse and require a new tire. Most professional mechanics and manufacturer technicians recommend your car's alignment is checked roughly every 6,000 miles.

Or the wheel alignment should be checked earlier if the car is driven more aggressively on rougher terrain. Checking for alignment issues regularly will preserve your tires' integrity, allowing them to last longer, and saving you from needing an expensive replacement tire. 

Are you looking for Mercedes specialists in Surrey? If you are a Mercedes-Benz owner you will want to ensure your car is in the right hands. 

 Follow the links below for Mercedes servicing and repairs in Godstone, Crawley, Croyden, Sevenoaks and the surrounding areas.