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What Causes Wheel Misalignment, and Why Does It Matter?

wheel stearing
When you drive your car, you want the steering wheel to align perfectly with the wheels so you steer easily. However, your car’s alignment can be easily damaged. Keep reading to learn what can cause wheel alignment problems and why it’s important to fix them.
What Causes Wheel Alignment Problems?
The causes of wheel alignment can be broken down into three categories.
Impact
Sudden impact is the most common reason that a car’s alignment is thrown off. You may notice alignment problems after:
  • Driving over a large pothole
  • Bumping a concrete block in a parking lot
  • Hitting the curb
  • Driving too fast over speed bumps
  • Getting into an accident
While most of these bumps are not likely to be huge, they may be enough to throw off your alignment. The bigger the impact, the more likely that the alignment will be jarred out of place. While not every one of these impacts can be avoided, since accidents happen to all of us, you can preserve your alignment longer by driving carefully.
Worn Parts
Even if your car doesn’t suffer any sudden impact, your car’s parts will get worn down over time as they’re used. For example, the alignment between your car’s steering wheel and the wheels is actually due to your car’s suspension — and if the suspension springs wear down, they won’t line up properly.
You can prevent many alignment problems by getting your car serviced regularly so deteriorated parts get replaced on time.
Height Modification
This scenario doesn’t apply to most car owners, but if you changed your car’s height recently, make sure your alignment is still intact. Your car’s suspension is designed to work for a specific height, so if you change the height without altering the suspension, your alignment may not be correct. If you have or are planning on changing your car’s height, make sure you talk to your mechanic about the suspension too.

Why Does Alignment Matter?

If you drive with incorrect wheel alignment, you’ll suffer from the following problems.
Reduced Performance
When your wheels are aligned properly, they work at their best. For example, imagine riding your bike in a straight line with the wheels pointed exactly the same way — but what if you turned the back wheel 45 degrees? You would have a much harder time riding in a straight line, and you’d have to use more power to keep moving forward. Your car functions in much the same way.
When your wheels are misaligned, expect your car’s performance to be worse, especially when braking or going around a corner — some people describe the feeling as instable or even “twitchy.” You may also notice that your car consumes more gas, since the car has to use more power to stay in motion.
Worn-Down Tires
All tires eventually wear out, but when your wheels are not aligned, the tires will wear down faster, due to the extra power you’ll have to expend. The tires will also wear out unevenly, which will contribute to you having to replace them sooner than you would otherwise.
You’ll save money in the long run by correcting wheel alignment issues since you won’t have to replace your tires as often.
Steering Problems
If your steering wheel and your tires are not properly aligned, you may notice the car pulling to one side consistently. While you may get used to it and learn to adjust, you’ll still be better off getting the problem fixed so you don’t have to worry about it.
If you need to check your car’s alignment or get your alignment fixed, reach out to Morrison Automotive & Truck. We can solve your problem, leading to better vehicle performance, longer-lasting car parts and a safer ride for you.