You love your new car. It’s beautiful, comfortable, has all the features you want, and it’s just a year old. Oh, did I mention it takes premium fuel? The only thing is that darn car keeps losing alignment.
While it will not always indicate anything major, several smaller components can affect the balance of your vehicle’s alignment. Let’s take a look at them:
Reasons Why your Car Keeps Losing Alignment
While the symptoms of bad car alignment are fairly straightforward—pulling to one side, difficulty turning corners, shaking, and rough driving—several causes could be behind the problem. Here are the common causes.
1. Worn Out Suspension Components
Bad car alignment can be caused by worn-out suspension components such as ball joints, control arms, spindles, and bushings. These components affect how your tires move when you drive around curves or over bumps.
2. Overloading Your Vehicle
Overloading your vehicle will misalign your vehicle and cause poor rides. Additionally, it will also cause premature wear leading to misalignment.
3. Improper Tire Pressure Levels
Improperly inflated tires also contribute to bad alignment. Due to varying pressure levels, they tend to wear more quickly than correctly inflated ones. This creates more friction between them and against the pavement when driving around corners or over bumps at high speeds. The friction, of course, will trigger misalignment.
4. Alignment Settings
Over time, the alignment settings on your vehicle can become worn out and need adjusting for optimum performance. All cars have different types of adjustable parts like camber (the angle between the top surface of the tire & vertical), caster (angle between steering axis & vertical) & toe (front toe-in/out). These settings will vary depending on the model of the vehicle.
5. Front End Damage or Misalignment
If you hit an obstacle with your front end, you may accidentally damage the suspension system enough to cause the wheels to tilt towards one side or another, causing misalignment. You should consult a mechanic if you suspect this might be true for your vehicle.
6. Improper Wheel Balancing
This is one of the most common causes of alignment problems. When you get new tires installed on your vehicle, you should always have them balanced to ensure they will wear evenly and last as long as possible.
If your tires aren’t balanced when they are first installed, they will wobble while driving and could cause your car to pull or drift from side to side.
Tires with low tread can be more likely to develop uneven wear due to irregular contact with the road surface. In addition, tires will naturally expand and contract with temperature changes.
If these fluctuations occur faster than the treads can adapt, they can lead to an unbalanced tire-to-road contact pattern, further exacerbating any existing alignment issues.
8. Sudden Changes
A blowout or other sudden damage to a tire can also cause misalignment issues by throwing off the car’s weight distribution. This problem is often compounded if there is more than one flat tire—the shifting weight distribution between tires is less stable and more prone to causing misalignment.
Changes in alignment can be a bit subtle at first. You may not notice that your steering response has been negatively affected until you have to make an emergency maneuver and find yourself with no control over what your vehicle is doing.
The following are some of the things you might notice if your alignment is out of whack:
Wear on the inside edges
This is a classic symptom of poor alignment. As the outside edges wear more quickly than the inside edges, the car will pull to one side when driving straight down the road.
Uneven tire wear
Another classic tell-tale sign of bad alignment is uneven tire wear. So, if one side of your tires wears down faster than the other, it could be a signal that your suspension system is misaligned.
Vibration at speed
Vibration is another common symptom of misalignment in vehicles. However, it could also be caused by other issues like worn suspension components, so always check with an expert before making any minor adjustments.
Dull steering response
Ideally, a car with lost alignment will have a poor steering response. And the main symptom of this poor steering response will be the car feeling “loose.” In other words, the vehicle will feel like it doesn’t respond as quickly as it should to your steering input, which can be extremely dangerous.
Drifting or wandering when driving straight
Once your vehicle becomes misaligned, it will go through a predictable process. It will start as a temporary wandering due to hitting potholes or curbs. So, if the driver continues to hit the potholes, the vehicle’s alignment will eventually misalign to its best.
Here are some tips to help you avoid bad wheel alignment:
Check your tires regularly.
Always check the tread depth, pressure, and tire wear every month. Tire rotation is also recommended every 6-8 months.
Maintain proper inflation
Overinflated tires can cause premature wear, while underinflated tires can lead to uneven tread wear and poor handling. So, check the pressure in all four tires once a month with an air gauge and adjust if necessary.
Watch for signs of misalignment.
If you notice any sign of misalignments with your vehicle, don’t wait for the worse. Contact your mechanic for necessary adjustments.
So, there you have it. If you’re dealing with an out-of-alignment car, these are the most common causes to keep in mind. You also know where to start if your alignment is causing problems on the road – double-check your suspension system for any of the issues covered above. Then, go from there to diagnose and fix a problem that might otherwise get worse.
However, it is vital that you have your car checked by a professional who will be able to diagnose the cause of this condition and straighten your wheels with great precision.
They will also ensure that you do not run the risk of having your car permanently damaged by bad alignment, which could prove to be both costly and problematic in the future.