Top 5 Bad Car Alignment Symptoms
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What happens if you are consistently driving a car with bad alignment? With constant usage of your car or plowing through uneven terrains, there are chances that your car’s alignment will go bad.
For improved safety and driving performance, it becomes necessary that you understand when the alignment is bad and what to do about it.
Sadly, most drivers easily overlook bad car alignment symptoms, and then some don’t even know what a bad alignment feels like. Your car alignment affects fuel economy, tire durability, and steering performance. Understanding when it’s time for an alignment will save you more trouble than you can imagine.
Some of the common signs of a bad car alignment include wobbling wheels, uneven tire wear, poor steering performance, and even pulling to one side.
Let’s explore everything you need to know about bad car alignment symptoms.
Table of Contents
- Bad car alignment symptoms
- What does a bad alignment feel like?
- How often should you get your car aligned?
- What happens if the wheel alignment is bad?
- Does alignment fix vibration?
- What causes alignment to go off?
- How long should an alignment last?
- Does alignment affect suspension?
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Bad car alignment symptoms
Here are the symptoms of a bad car alignment:
1. Wobbling wheels
Your wheels are noticeable indicators that you have a bad car alignment. Bad car alignment happens when your wheels are not properly aligned. However, this is not limited to wheel alignments and adjustments but the overall state of the suspension system.
When you have a bad car alignment, your wheel will wobble, especially at low speeds. You might easily notice this by looking at the tires/wheels when they are in motion. In some cases, you might not notice the wobbling, but your wheels will feel loose when you try making a turn.
2. Uneven tire wear
One of the most common symptoms of a bad car alignment is that your tires will start wearing unevenly. With a bad car alignment, you should notice that your tire treads will start wearing unevenly. The grooves and patterns on your tire will eat in from one side.
Uneven tire wear on old tires is no cause for alarm; you should get them changed. However, we must inform you that other factors can cause your tire to wear unevenly; bad wheel bearing, broken wheel rims, or over/under-inflated tires.
Are your tires still new but wearing unevenly, and are you sure your wheels are not broken, and you have good bearings? There’s no argument; you have a bad alignment. The angle of your tire damage and wear patterns can help you make good guesses before proper diagnosis.
If the tires are wearing unevenly towards the insides and outside edges, there are chances that you have a bad camber alignment.
If the uneven tire wear is classified as feathering and scalloping, you might have a bad toe alignment. You might consider getting the services of a professional mechanic to roll your tires and decide the appropriate fix.
3. Poor steering performance
Bad car alignment affects your steering performance. If you have a bad car alignment, you should notice that your steering wheel is not sitting at the center while driving on straight roads, and the steering wheel won’t return to the center after completing a turn. This can put you in a tight position that will affect your safety.
At this juncture, you will gradually start losing control of your car. Sometimes, crowns and slopes can tilt your steering off center. But, if the steering is moving away more degrees than normal, towards a particular direction, you should check your alignment.
The effect of these conditions can trigger vibrations in your steering wheel, impacting your driving experience. Bad car handling counts as a symptom of bad car alignment.
When your car is poorly aligned, your steering might start feeling loose. The unstableness in your wheels will make your car wander while you drive.
4. Unusual noise from tires
Unusual noise from tires is one of the symptoms of bad car alignment. We’ve made you understand that a bad car alignment will make your tires wear unevenly. When the tire treads start wearing from uneven angles, you will notice that they will squeal as you drive.
The unusual noise will increase as you accelerate or take turns. How bad your car alignment is will determine the intensity of noise it will make. You must understand that a bad car alignment is not the only factor that will generate unusual noises in your tire.
Creaking, knocking, grinding, and squealing are indicators of a wide range of car problems. Proper diagnosis will help you decide the exact issue and effect changes.
5. Poor rides
You should check your car’s alignment if you suddenly start experiencing poor rides. When your car’s alignment is terrible, or out of alignment, your car will experience steering problems, loss of traction, poor braking, and your car will start pulling to one side.
These issues can extend to hesitation in your steering or even bumpy rides at high speeds.
To ascertain the state of your rides, you can take your car for a test drive. Choose a road with no one around, and drive while maintaining straight steering.
It might become unsafe to incorporate a “hands-free” movement for a few seconds, but the goal is to check if your car swerves at straight positions. If it swerves unnecessarily, then you should get your alignment checked.
What does a bad alignment feel like?
A bad alignment feels like driving with a loose steering wheel, wobbling wheels, with your car pulling to one side.
It’s not always a pleasant experience. In most cases, a bad alignment will drive you on an unresponsive steering wheel or a wheel that won’t return to neutral after completing a turn.
How often should you get your car aligned?
How often you get your car aligned depends on your use and the conditions you drive them in. It is advisable to get your car aligned as frequently as possible from the moment you notice uneven performance in your car. Your car should be aligned at least once every year.
This rule of thumb doesn’t apply when you notice changes, uneven wear in your tire, swerving, or poor steering performance.
Get your car aligned the moment you notice any bad car alignment symptoms. A good mechanic will align your car after changing your tires or wheels.
What happens if the wheel alignment is bad?
When your wheel alignment is bad, you should have a reduced fuel economy, compromised safety, poor steering performance, and reduced driving experience. Your wheels will start wobbling, with uneven tire wear impacting your gas mileage.
You should notice unusual friction in your wheels. This is because your tires are thinning out fast, causing a reduction in pressure and traction. These faults can affect your acceleration and the car’s response when you hit the brakes.
Does alignment fix vibration?
Yes. Alignment fixes vibration if the initial cause of the vibration is wheel misalignment. Most times, wheel misalignment is the primary reason why cars vibrate. However, we can’t rule out the possibility of other reasons why your car is vibrating.
To fix vibrations, you must diagnose and inspect your car to ensure that you fix the exact faults.
What causes alignment to go off?
There are a few causes why alignment goes off. It all boils down to subjecting your car to intense pressure or strenuous conditions. This includes driving through potholes, road impacts, collisions, bumps, and accidents.
Wears and tears can also cause your alignment to go off. Anything affecting your car’s wheels and suspension will make your alignment go off. You should check your springs and maintenance habits if your car keeps losing alignment.
How long should an alignment last?
An alignment will last as long as your suspension system is healthy. Under normal circumstances, an alignment should last up to 15,000 to 30,000 miles. You should not expect your car’s alignment to last for eternity.
Your alignment will last long till you start hitting potholes and creating monstrous impacts with steady and moving objects. There is no universal rule on how long an alignment should last. Your alignment will last until you crash into a curb, pothole, wall, or another truck.
You will change your alignment frequently if you are always driving through dirty and rough roads.
Does alignment affect suspension?
Yes. Alignment affects suspension. Your car’s alignment and suspension system are directly related.
The word “alignment” in cars means to adjust your suspension system. This process includes getting the best castor angles for your front wheels, camber alignment for the four wheels, and the right toe for your front and rear wheels.
You need to always align and adjust the suspension system for maximum performance.
However, alignment can extend from the suspension to the steering system. When your car is misaligned, one of the first parts of your car that is affected is the suspension system.
The suspension system plays a great role in your car’s alignment as the type of suspension determines the alignment settings.
We have provided enough information to help you know if your car needs an alignment. Bad car alignment can throw your car off balance, making driving a risky adventure.
We advise that you understand the bad car alignment symptoms, hire the services of a professional if you can, and fix the problems as soon as possible. The earlier you align your car, the safer you are.