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The importance of maintaining proper wheel alignment

The importance of maintaining proper wheel alignment. 

Wheel alignment is arguably one of the most overlooked services among car owners. That is
partially due to the inaccurate information surrounding this important topic. The objective of this
article is clearing doubts and myths regarding the importance of maintaining proper wheel
alignment in your vehicle.
What does wheel alignment do?
There is a misconception (even among car enthusiasts) about what does wheel alignment
does, mainly because some confuse this service with wheel balancing. Simply put, wheel
alignment restores tire contact angle to that specified by the car manufacturer. Don Lee's
Tire & Auto’s certified technicians achieve this goal by adjusting your vehicle suspension
components using a state-of-the-art wheel alignment machine that ensures accurateness and
quality and therefore optimal results.
How do you know if you need an alignment?
It’s safe to assume that your car needs wheel alignment when you start experiencing any of the
following symptoms:
1. Your car starts pulling to the left or to the right when driving straight
2. You start hearing a squealing sound from your tires
3. Your steering wheel is not centered when you are driving straight
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, it’s highly recommended to perform wheel
alignment when:
1. Buying new tires. This guarantees maximum tire performance as well as longer service
life.
2. Changing the tire height. The height of the tires directly affects their contact angle and
therefore can cause excessive wear if not properly compensated.
3. Changing the diameter of your wheels. Similar to the previous point, when you change
the diameter of the wheels, chances are you are also changing the total height of the
tires.

4. Lifting or lowering your vehicle overall height. Although is not as obvious as in the
previous two points, when you modify vehicle’s height you are also modifying suspension
geometry and thus your car will need a wheel alignment.
5. After the front suspension is repaired. When suspension components are replaced
you automatically lose wheel alignment, that’s why this service is mandatory after this
type of repair.
6. After a major collision. Major collisions, especially accidents involving lateral collisions,
might alter suspension or chassis/unibody geometry, so it’s highly recommended to
perform a wheel alignment check.
Advantages of maintaining a proper wheel alignment
Now that you have a better understanding of what is wheel alignment and how to diagnose if
your car requires it, it’s time to review the multiple benefits of this service. Below is a brief list of
what you can expect from a vehicle when properly aligned.
● Increased tire lifespan. Tires are not cheap. Regardless of the tire brand, if your vehicle
is not properly aligned uneven tire wear will appear lowering its lifespan dramatically.
● Improved safety. Braking performance improves noticeably when tires maintain an
optimal contact angle with the road. The only way to keep that angle within the
manufacturer’s parameters is by performing a wheel alignment.
● Utmost road traction. The tire pattern is designed under the assumption that your car is
aligned. That means a poor wheel alignment will directly impact tires’ traction. This is a
key safety factor to consider when driving in snow or rain, as the risk of aquaplaning
when the wheels are not properly aligned is very high.
● Smoother driving experience. Another factor directly related to the angle of contact of
the tires with the road has to do with "general ride comfort". As the vehicle speed
increases, an incorrect contact angle could cause your tires to start "squealing". Another
undesirable effect of an incorrect contact angle is the increased effort required to turn the
steering wheel.
● Better fuel economy. You may be wondering, how can wheel alignment affect fuel
economy? As the contact angle moves away from the ideal, the resistance offered by the
tires to the movement increases exponentially. This is how an out-of-alignment vehicle
can consume up to 10% more fuel than another that keeps its wheels aligned.
At Don Lee's Tire & Auto our pledge is providing you with the best customer experience. If you
are not sure whether your car requires wheel alignment then come and visit us. Our friendly staff
will be happy to assist you and ensure that your car is in optimal condition.