Do I need an alignment after replacing tires? It’s optional unless your wheels had already gone out of alignment while on the old tires. Continue reading for details, including when an alignment is necessary and what could happen if it’s not done on time.
In addition, you’ll discover the notorious causes of misalignment and what you can do to prevent the problem.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 Do You Need a Wheel Alignment After Replacing Car Tires?
- 2 When Does Your Car Need a Wheel Alignment?
- 3 What Are the Common Causes of Wheel Alignment Problems?
- 4 What Is the Cost of a Car Wheel Alignment?
- 5 Conclusion
Do You Need a Wheel Alignment After Replacing Car Tires?
No, you don’t need a wheel alignment after replacing car tires. However, it’s essential to have your mechanic check the wheels and ensure they are all aligned correctly before getting back to the road with the new tires. Driving a car with misaligned wheels can be costly and dangerous.
It’s essential to have wheels properly aligned for safe driving, prolonged tire life, and ensuring that a car runs as efficiently as possible. On the other hand, tire balancing corrects the weight imbalance on the tire and wheel assemblies. That prevents excessive vibration in a car, which would contribute to a rough ride.
Tire Change and Alignment
Does changing tires affect alignment? No, worn-out or damaged suspension and steering parts are the ones that have an impact on alignment and tire wear. So, it’s crucial to have a professional inspect those parts and do the necessary repairs. After the repairs, an alignment can then follow before you’re free to hit the road again with your new set of tires.
If you’re wondering how soon should I get an alignment after new tires, it should be immediately. Driving on new tires without alignment (if required) can decrease your vehicle’s handling, increasing the crashing risk and triggering uneven tire wear. Also, the tires will probably wear earlier than usual. And the last thing you want is to spend on new sets of tires more often than needed.
An alignment service will help you get more miles from the new set of tires. By ensuring that your vehicle runs smoothly, getting this service will also help you enjoy increased gas mileage. Do you need an alignment with 4 new tires, or can you align all four tires simultaneously? It depends on your car.
Most modern vehicles require a four-wheel alignment. But those with solid or fixed rear axles can only get their front tires aligned. Even so, your mechanic can check the rear tires for any damage affecting your car’s proper handling. If all of your four tires can be aligned, let them be, but if only the front wheels can be aligned, have the rear axle checked.
When Does Your Car Need a Wheel Alignment?
Your car needs a wheel alignment when you notice one or more wheel misalignment symptoms. They include the steering wheel not centering and the vehicle pulling to one side while driving. You may also realize abnormal tire wear and unusual noise, especially when you start to drive.
Most car manufacturers recommend getting an alignment annually or 12,000 miles – whichever comes first. You may need more frequent wheel alignments if you drive frequently in harsh conditions, such as pothole-riddled streets or off-road terrains.
Your owner’s manual may provide more information on what’s best for your car. But in general, you must get your car’s tire aligned whenever you observe the tell-tale symptoms discussed in detail below:
Pulling To One Side When Driving
A car is likely to veer from side to side when you’re driving if its wheels get out of alignment. You’ll notice the vehicle pulling to the right or left, especially when you take your hands off the steering.
When all the wheels are aligned correctly with each other, the car should continue in a straight path even when you slightly remove your hands from the steering.
Steering Is Not Centering, Noise and Vibration
An off-center steering wheel is another indicator of a car that needs alignment. As mentioned, your steering should be centered, focused, and steady when driving on a straight road. If that’s not the case, it’s time to check your alignment.
Also, when driving, a good indication of skewed tires is unusual vibration or shaking on the steering wheel. Sometimes, the vibrations will be accompanied by weird noises, including knocking, flopping, or rubbing, especially when you start to drive and turn at corners. Although that is more likely to be a steering and suspension issue, an alignment will be necessary after those corrections.
Unusual Wear on Tires
As mentioned, wheel misalignment causes uneven wear on tires. So, if the tread wear on your wheels is uneven across each tread block, an alignment is necessary. Cars with that kind of wear on tires are typically loud when driven.
If you notice these signs, take your car for an alignment. As discussed, alignment offers a lot of benefits. In addition to increased tire life and fuel efficiency, the service ensures better vehicle handling and control, improved stability, and overall safety. Even when these symptoms are yet to manifest, sometimes taking your car for an alignment is a smart move.
That includes after striking a solid curb or when you need major suspension repairs. Some people raise or lower their vehicles as a way of modification. If you’ve recently done that, your car probably needs an alignment. Many are asking,
should I get new tires or an alignment first?
You can get an alignment even with bad tires. As mentioned, tire change doesn’t affect alignment. But if you own an older model, replacing the tires first before doing the alignment would be best. Excess wear may have ruined the camber measurement. For vehicles manufactured in 1980 and below, the toe, camber, and caster can be tuned during alignment.
However, only the toe-in and toe-out levers can be tuned for modern models. Many modern cars now have a fixed front end, where the caster and camber levels are factory-set and can no longer be adjusted during alignment.
What Are the Common Causes of Wheel Alignment Problems?
The common causes of wheel alignment problems include high impact from hitting a curb or driving over a large pothole. Worn-out parts, such as wheel bearings and suspension, are common causes of the misalignment. Certain modifications, such as vehicle height adjustment, can also lead to the issue.
Like in wear and tear, everyday vehicle use knocks the wheels out of alignment over time. As discussed, you should have your car wheels aligned at least once a year, or 12,000 miles. An overdue re-alignment is one of the primary causes of misalignment. You can keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely by proactively taking it in for alignment.
Timely alignments will also prevent unnecessary damage to other car parts, such as brakes and tires. However, many things can cause premature wheel misalignment, as detailed here:
Low Tire Press on One or More Tires
Low tire pressure can cause a vehicle to pull to one side. When the pressure varies from one tire to another, it affects the height leading to a changed alignment. So, if you notice your car pulling away to one side while driving or suspect misalignment, check your tire pressure first. Ensure your tires are always inflated to the correct PSI to keep the vehicle properly aligned.
Hitting a Curb or Pothole
A tire alignment problem can surface after the vehicle experiences a heavy impact. Driving over a deep pothole or hitting a curb can negatively affect your vehicle. Also, even the slightest impact after backing into a pole can change the alignment. Thus, check the alignment any time the car hits something (another car, pothole, or curb).
Worn Out Parts
Worn-out parts are most common on cars with high mileage. Worn wheel bearings are notorious for causing your wheels to tilt and no longer sit at the right angle. Similarly, worn-out suspension springs will alter your vehicle’s alignment.
Your car suspension is made to work at a particular height. If you adjust this height, you must also adjust the entire suspension. If you don’t, the vehicle will experience wheel misalignment. So, if you have done a height adjustment recently and didn’t check your alignment, consider doing it immediately for a safe and efficient drive.
As mentioned, taking your vehicle for routine servicing is the best measure to prevent alignment problems. A regular check-up can allow your mechanic to replace a broken or failing part before it causes real damage. Replacing an old part before it wears out completely will increase your vehicle’s life. It will also save you money in the long run by preventing unnecessary damage to other parts.
What Is the Cost of a Car Wheel Alignment?
The cost of a car wheel alignment is between $50 and $100, depending on the car model. If your vehicle is an all-wheel-drive with an independent suspension, it will require a 4-wheel alignment for up to $200. The service consists of a front toe and caster adjustment.
And for the rear wheels, the professional will offer a camber and toe adjustment. Note that the location may also affect the price. Typically, an alignment takes about one hour, whether in a four-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive vehicle. The work may take longer if your car has too much wear and tear or damage to the suspension, track rod, steering bushing, and other related components.
Some of these parts must be replaced. Therefore, the bottom line for anyone asking how much is an alignment, expect to pay a minimum of $50. The price can go as high as $200 or more, depending on the extent of the service. Nevertheless, an alignment is inexpensive and should be a regular part of your vehicle care regime.
Some auto repair shops provide a lifetime alignment package of between $180 and $250 to make the alignment even more economical. Others may even check and align your wheels for free if you buy the tires from them.
But if you’re unlucky to get a free alignment with new tires, the new tires and alignment cost can range from $250 to $1,400. The exact price will depend on the quality of the tires you buy.
You can get inexpensive tires ranging from $50 to $150 each, while, on average, moderately priced tires cost $300. A high-end tire can cost as much as $1000 each.
You are now well-informed regarding car tire replacement and wheel alignment.
Here’s a summary to ensure you don’t miss a point:
- You don’t need an alignment after the installation of new tires.
- However, it’s recommended that you have the wheels checked before you return to the road with your new set of tires.
- If the vehicle needs alignment, it should be correctly done immediately to prevent premature wear of your new tears.
- A correctly aligned vehicle runs efficiently and safely and saves fuel.
- Performing an alignment at least once a year or as your manufacturer directs is essential.
Ensure you’re using the services of a reliable mechanic to minimize the risk of your wheels going out of alignment or damaging vital parts soon after the service. The right professional also has the proper equipment to accurately determine whether your vehicle needs an alignment with the new tires.
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