As we venture into the summer months, the potholes and frost heaves left behind by winter’s chill become little more than a distant memory. Unfortunately, the damage they may have done will linger and possibly worsen if not addressed. Truth is, you needn’t plunge into a gaping pothole to damage your car’s alignment in Michigan. A car’s steering system is quite complex, and simply running over small rocks or clipping a curb a little too hard can be enough to throw off the alignment. Luckily, re-alignment is a fairly straightforward process that doesn’t require lots of time or money. Read on to better understand if your car is a good candidate for a wheel alignment.
Car Alignment Causes, Signs, and Symptoms for Michigan Residents
Does it pull to one side?
A car that veers to one side is a classic sign of poor alignment. If you remove your hands from the steering wheel (use caution!) and the car pulls strongly to one side, it’s a good indication you have poor alignment. You’ll find yourself holding the wheel at an angle in order to drive the car in a straight line. While this may seem like little more than a tolerable nuisance to some, it can in fact prematurely damage other components – namely the tires, which will be subjected to uneven wear and excessive heat. The harder you feel your car pulling, the greater the misalignment and the chance of it leading to bigger costs down the road.
Crooked Steering Wheel
As previously mentioned, a steering wheel that has to be held at an angle is a surefire indication of misalignment. And while premature tire wear may be one of the more apparent symptoms, it is by no means the only one. If your steering wheel is heavily cocked to one side, it is almost certainly putting undue stress on the braking system. Having to adjust how you drive is enough of a burden, but compromising the car’s handling puts both you and other motorists at risk. Factoring in brake work to the cost of wheel alignment can be sidestepped by having a qualified technician inspect your vehicle at the earliest signs of a crooked steering wheel.
Shake Things Up
Misaligned wheels can work against each other. This will often result in a shaking or vibrating sensation, coupled with unusual noises like squealing or rubbing as you drive. The degree to which your car shakes often corresponds with the severity of the misalignment, although it can worsen over time if left ignored. Annoying at best, vibrations can loosen other components of your car over time which can result in costly repairs. The steering column and engine bay are areas that are most often harmed by excessive vibration, as well as any of your car’s many suspension components. Although some of these parts themselves may be fairly cheap, costs begin to mount due to the inconvenience and required hours needed to access them. If you’re dealing with a car that shakes even a little bit, save yourself the future hassle and financial burden and have it diagnosed as soon as possible.
Decreased gas mileage
Seemingly endless variables influence gas mileage, but one steadfast truth is that when your car works harder, gas mileage suffers. Improperly aligned wheels can drastically reduce gas mileage due to the increased load on your motor. When faced with excess loads that the vehicle was not originally designed to support, the engine must work harder and consume more fuel as it does. It should come as no surprise that a motor working harder than it was intended to may also have a shorter service life. Misaligned wheels yield more friction and rolling resistance, which simply requires more fuel to overcome.
The safety considerations of a misaligned car cannot be overlooked. A very minor misalignment may not produce much of a noticeable effect, but safety is jeopardized any time a vehicle’s handling is compromised. While the symptoms of misalignment may seem benign under normal driving conditions, they can become quite pronounced at times when vehicle integrity is critical – swerves, hard stops, and very tight turns. These types of driving maneuvers are less common, and as such drivers are unprepared for how they will be influenced by a compromised wheel alignment. For the sake of your own safety and the safety of those around you, get your car serviced at the earliest indication of unusual handling.
At Good Care Auto located in Southgate Michigan, alignments are a specialty. Their industry trained and professionally certified staff has performed countless alignments on all makes and models using the latest computer-controlled alignment machines. They’re equipped to handle any steering, alignment, and suspension jobs, and perform quality work at highly competitive rates with quick turnaround times. From shakes and squeals to canted wheels, call Good Care Auto at (734)-285-1188 and let their friendly, knowledgeable staff get you back on the road today!