What are signs of bad wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment is one of the most commonly occurring problems in all types of vehicles. When driving on rough roads or those filled with potholes, the impact of the car on the street can cause wheels to misalign. 

Even without any such rough roads, wheels of vehicles can become misaligned simply due to use and time. When a vehicle has bad wheel alignment, it means that not all of its wheels are positioned in the correct angles, as specified by the manufacturer. Bad wheel alignment can cause an imbalance in driving and mess up the steering too. 

This can result in serious accidents, which is why, you should get your wheels properly aligned from time to time, or if you being noticing any of the following signs of bad wheel alignment

Vehicle pulling to one side

While driving, if you feel like the vehicle tends to veer to one particular side even without turning the steering in the direction, you might have an wheel alignment issue. 

It is important to keep an eye on whether or not the vehicle is getting pulled to one side and whether this is a recurring problem, from the time you first notice it. 

You could also take your car to a straight road with no traffic and test the wheel alignment there. Drive straight and take your hands off the wheel for a bit. If you notice the car going to either one direction automatically, then you might have a wheel alignment issue. 

Uneven steering wheel

While driving on a flat and even road, the steering wheel of your car should remain perfectly flat and centred. 

It should not tilt to any side or be crooked in any way. If you feel like your steering wheel is uneven, then a misalignment can be the cause of the issue and you should take your car to the mechanic right away. 

An easy way to check whether the steering wheel is even is by observing the emblem in the centre. If the emblem is flat and level, that means so is the steering wheel. If the emblem seems crooked, then the wheel also probably is and needs wheel alignment

Loose steering

A loose steering is a common symptom of misaligned wheels. If you find the steering wheel of the car being turned too easily, or at the slightest of touch, it might be loose. 

Such sloppy steering wheels are very dangerous and can cause a lot of accidents on the road. Another warning sign of a loose steering is decreased response time i.e. the time between the steering wheel being turned and the car making the turn. 

Vibrating steering wheel

If you feel the steering wheel vibrating or shaking under your hands while driving, then that could be a sign of trouble. Misaligned or unbalanced tyres can cause the steering wheel to vibrate in such a way. 

However, vibrating steering wheels can also indicate a much larger problem and you should take the car to a mechanic straight away if such a symptom is noticed. 

Uneven tyre wear

If your wheels are properly aligned, the tyres are used equally from all sides and therefore they wear out equally too. 

If you notice that the treads on any tyre are wearing out more or faster than those on the other tyres, that could be due to misaligned wheels. When wheels are not aligned well, some tyres may become overused while others do not wear. 

If you suspect uneven tyre wear, you could use a tread depth meter to measure the tread depth on all tyres. Wheels that are properly aligned should have the same rubber tread depth on all tyres. 

Squealing tyres

As mentioned before, when wheels are misaligned, tyres tend to wear out unevenly since one or two tyres are put under more pressure than the others. 

When tyres wear unevenly, they can start to squeal i.e. make a high pitched sound, especially while turning or accelerating. If you notice your tyres squealing, then there is a good chance your wheels are misaligned. 

However, squealing tyres could also indicate other issues like worn brake pads, in which case it is best to check wheel alignment thoroughly if this symptom is noticed. 

Conclusion

The wheels of a vehicle being misaligned can cause a number of issues and can also be a safety risk for the driver. 

This is why it is important to get the tyres aligned regularly and to take the car to the mechanic shop if any signs of misalignment are noticed. 

Uneven, vibrating or loose steering wheel, unevenly worn or squealing tyres, or the vehicle being pulled to one side are all common symptoms of misalignment and should be checked out at once. 

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