So you’ve got a set of brand new tyres. Now you want to know how best to look after them – for your hip pocket, the car’s performance and your safety. In answer to the above question, the answer is a firm ‘yes’. A wheel alignment is the first thing to be done every time a car gets a set of new tyres. It’s vital to maximising their longevity, getting the most out of your car’s handling and making sure the right amount of rubber is in contact with the road.
What is a wheel alignment?
There are two things that most affect the health of your tyres and the handling of your car: steering and suspension angles. These are precisely what a wheel alignment is concerned with.
During a wheel alignment, we measure, analyse and adjust your car’s steering and suspension angles. There are two things we want: wheels that are parallel to each other and perpendicular (at an angle of 90 degrees) to the ground. We achieve this by adjusting caster, camber and toe.
Every car is unique and all models come with their own measurements based on the manufacturer’s advice. It may seem to the naked eye that your wheels are in the perfect position, but if they’re out by even a single millimetre, handling is compromised and tyre wear is accelerated.
When should I get a wheel alignment?
As already stated, with every set of new tyres. Apart from that, every 12 months. That’s right – once a year. Around 95% of the wheel alignments we perform call for adjustments because the angles are out of specification. This is clearly telling us that the vast majority of car owners are not getting wheel alignments often enough. In other words, the majority of drivers out there are wearing through their tyres faster than necessary and not getting the best handling out of their car.
What causes misalignment?
Apart from general wear and tear, the biggest causes of misalignment are road conditions and driving habits. Whenever your tyres hit something, they’re nudged out of alignment. The biggest culprits are potholes and curbs.
High performance cars go out of alignment a lot easier. Their superior handling owes a lot to lightweight suspension components. However, being lightweight, these suspension components are also knocked out of alignment a lot easier than in other cars. If you own a high performance vehicle, you really need to be diligent about annual wheel alignments.
How do I know if I need a wheel alignment?
If it’s been longer than 12 months since your last one. Other than that, if you notice:
- Your car constantly pulls to one side.
- The steering wheel isn’t centred.
- The steering feels loose.
- You’ve noticed uneven or patchy tyre wear.
- You’ve heard squeaking or rubbing noises.
If you notice any of the above, give us a call as soon as you can and we’ll diagnose the issue.
What are the benefits of a wheel alignment?
Aside from looking after your new tyres, there are numerous benefits to having your tyres correctly aligned.
- Better fuel efficiency. Everything your car does goes into spinning the wheels. Any misalignment, no matter how minor, makes it harder for the engine to do this. The more energy an engine uses to spin the wheels, the more fuel it burns through. Misalignment can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 10%, which is even more significant given the price at the bowser these days.
- Avoid expensive repairs. Misaligned wheels wear out tyres as well as other components. Keeping your wheels at the right angles means your steering and suspension are under as little strain as possible, promoting their health and prolonging their life.
- It’s safe. We say it time and again: tyres are the most important safety feature. Tyres that are compromised in any way reduce your ability accelerate, brake or steer in a controlled and purposeful manner. Misaligned wheels mean compromised tyres; they wear faster and don’t have adequate grip on the road’s surface.
- Enjoy the ride. Wheel alignments are all about getting the steering and suspension right. Without the right alignment, the car can pull in certain directions, vibrate harshly or make odd sounds. In other words, it can lead to a rough ride, and an unsafe one. If you have a high performance vehicle and you’re not getting regular wheel alignments, not only are you robbing yourself of a smooth ride, you’re also doing serious damage to vital components of your beloved car.
Get new tyres and get them aligned at Eastern Tyre Centre
Time for a set of new tyres? Drop in to Eastern Tyre Centre and we’ll not only fit your car out with the most appropriate tyres, but we’ll also perform a wheel alignment and make sure everything is in order. If you don’t need new tyres, but it has been more than 12 months since your last alignment, book in with us now and get your tyres moving in the same direction.