How To Check Wheel Alignment At Home – 5 Telltale Signs
Early symptoms of misalignment can be easy to ignore. A slight vibration once in a while doesn’t quite seem like an alarming concern. But you could run into some serious trouble when your car will begin to do the crab walk.
Wheel alignment is something that every car has to undergo after certain miles have been driven. From a birds-eye view, the wheels of your car might seem completely vertical even in cases where you already begin to notice the signs of misalignment, the reason being, it needs to be aligned according to the predefined angles specified by the manufacturer.
All four-wheelers have three angles associated with wheel alignment- Camber angle, caster angle, and toe angle. These angles can be either positive or negating, varying from manufacturer to model, and need to be aligned, the way they were designed for the best performance of your vehicle.
So with all these variables, can you actually certainly check for wheel alignment at home? Well, with this guide we’ll help you do just that.
Table of Contents
Wheel alignment refers to the adjustment of the angle and direction of wheels in relation to the system that connects the chassis with the tires and the steering wheel. Proper wheel alignment is imperative to maintain good control over a vehicle and handle its maneuvering deftly. Without correct calibration of the wheels, the risk of damage to the vehicle and the tire’s wear rate is increased significantly. Timely vehicle inspections and checks for wheel alignment are crucial not only to extend the life of your tires but also to ensure safer commuting and smooth driving. One can avert a number of heavy repairs by recognizing the early symptoms of wheel alignment. While it is standard practice to get a wheel alignment done on a periodic service, there might be several reasons why your car might feel out of balance after one. A sizeable pothole, few curb bumps, or heavy tread wears are enough to put your car’s suspension out of the set of numbers that dictate proper wheel alignment. The correction of wheels can only be done through a wheel alignment machine but that shouldn’t mean you need to visit a workshop every time you feel a little wobble. Luckily for you, alignment issues are pretty easy to assess with some being due to minor issues like air pressure uniformity.
Signs You Need Wheel Alignment
The concepts surrounding wheel alignment can be a little complex, however, checking for alignment issues can be a cinch. Here are the symptoms of misaligned wheels that you can asses at home with ease
Uneven Tyre Wear
The direction in which your tires wear can give you definitive answers on the type of alignment problem you might be facing. If the tires are rubbing down inward, it is due to “toe-in”. Toe-in will make your wheels angled inwards. On the other hand, if the wears are visible more on the outer part of the tires, it is due to “toe-out”. Toe quite literally refers to the angle of the wheels with respect to the vehicle and its steering wheel. If any of the pair of wheels have a problem with the toe, the tread wear will be progressively uneven due to extreme pressure from a single direction. Curvy uneven tread wear of the tires can possibly be the result of both tires facing toe in and toe out at the same angle. Adjusting the toe is not a simple procedure and can only be done through a machine. If you’ve found to have either of these issues with your wheel, we recommend getting the toes corrected.
Sharp Pull To One Side
One of the most telling signs that a vehicle needs wheel alignment is if the car pulls sharply to one side when driving. If while driving, you found yourself veering left or right inadvertently or notice sudden bouts of jerky pulls to one side, you should seriously consider getting your tires aligned. Misalignment of this nature can be due to two reasons namely, warped rotors and worn-out suspension. Rotors can be worn out due to excessive stress by braking at high speeds while suspensions have a finite life that is strongly influenced by the weight of the vehicle.
Slight Pull To one Side
This is one of the less alarming signs of wheel alignment. It is mainly caused by shocks to the chassis from either hitting bumps on the road or through potholes. Slight pull to one side is not noticeable like a hard tug that comes from an extremely misaligned pair of wheels but one can easily check for this wheel alignment issue with this quick tip- Begin by driving slowly in a linear pattern, then take your hands off the steering wheel and notice if the vehicle veers in either of the directions. If it does, your car likely has wheel alignment issues.
Note: Find a parking area that is completely even. Roads are built with a slight slope towards the drainage system which might not be suitable to give you accurate results.
Steering Wheel Vibration
Noise is an epiphenomenon of tension. When both the tires are skirmishing to pull in opposite directions, it is unsurprising to have your steering wheel quivering. If at high speeds you find your steering wheel fighting you for sway or if you tend to lose a bit of control when making a hard acceleration, it could be a sign of misaligned wheels.
Steering Wheel Off Centre
A crooked steering wheel when driving straight is an indication of improper alignment of the wheels. This generally occurs when you get new tires but the calibration of the wheels is rickety or outright substandard. It is recommended to get your wheels realigned immediately as the alignment will further gradually go off and can become a safety hazard.
Noise from the tires is generally caused by the wheels rotating at the wrong angle. To assess this problem, lower the windows and take a listen to your vehicle’s tires on the highway. If you hear a squeaking noise, you may need realignment of the wheels. This is especially true if you only hear the noise on one side. Further, the sound coming from the tires may be a muffled screeching if the whole set is misaligned while you make hear a flicking noise only when you turn in a certain direction in case of a single tire is misaligned.
How Often Do You Need To Check For Wheel Alignment
While most mechanics recommend getting wheel alignment every 1-2 years, there is no hard and fast rule for when you should get your tires corrected as it depends on a number of factors like types of roads you drive on, specifics of the vehicle, amount of driving, etc. As for how often should you check wheel alignment? It is every time you get new tires.
Here are the reasons why you need to check for alignment after replacing tires-
Inconsistent Tyre Pressure
Underinflated tires can also be a cause of slight tilts in driving. This sort of misalignment can be resolved by checking for optimum PSI and reinflating.
Ply steer also called pseudo side slips are tendencies for the tire to “crab walk” or move sideways. It is caused by inconsistencies and asymmetries in the outer body of the tire. This tendency also called tire conicity affects the steering of a vehicle but can be avoided pretty easily. It is a defect in new tires that could be simply looked for and replaced as it is covered under the warranty.
Hopefully, with this guide, you will be better equipped to check for wheel alignment issues at home and determine when you need one. Though, if you have any issue with your alignment or if your car keeps losing alignment, you can bring your car to us for a detailed inspection. Frequent alignment issues can be due to some underlying issue. With our 40 point diagnostics, you’ll get a detailed inspection of your vehicle and the right solution. Also if you have any queries regarding wheel alignment do let us know in the comments down below.