You know that having bad alignment on your car can lead to some problems, from poor gas mileage to uneven tire wear. But how long will your tires last with bad alignment? And more importantly, how bad is it to drive with a bad alignment?
So, let’s begin with the first question.
How Long will your Tires Last with Bad Alignment?
It is a fact that bad alignment severely damages the car’s tires. A proper figure regarding how long tires will last cannot be quoted since it depends on the initial condition of the tires. If you have old tires, you may drive a few hundred miles with a car that has a bad alignment. For the new tires, that have a lifespan of 100,000 to 150,000 miles, it will be shortened to just a few thousand miles.
Whatever the situation may be, driving with improper alignment is a source of discomfort for the driver and one may get into an accident if the vehicle gets out of control. So, it is always advised to get the tires in order.
Further, in the article, you will get to know about tire alignment, its types, causes, some signs of bad wheel alignment, and what damage the car could get due to poor alignment.
Tire alignment is the process of making sure the car’s tires are pointing in the right direction. It is important to have the tires aligned because that can help you improve your car’s handling, fuel economy, and tire life.
Types of Tire Alignment
Based on how the position of tires is disturbed, there are two main types of alignment, toe and camber alignment.
Figure 1- Toe Alignment ©RepcoService
Toe alignment refers to how much tires are pointing inward or outward when viewed from the top. You may have heard two terms, toe-in and toe-out. When the wheel is slightly bent inward, that is toe-in, and when it is slightly bent outward, that is toe-out.
Figure 2 Camber Alignment© RepcoService
Camber alignment refers to the extent your tires are tilted in or out when viewed from the front. There is a positive camber and a negative camber. When the wheels are tilted inward, that is the negative camber and when tilted outward, that’s the positive camber.
Causes of Bad Alignment in a car
Now, let’s talk about the main causes of how a car gets out of alignment.
- Striking a Pothole: The sudden impact of hitting a pothole or a curb can make the car out of alignment. If you strike a bump at high speed, that could make your car wheels misaligned.
- Damaged Suspension components: Sometimes, worn-out suspension components such as struts and shocks might be the reason for bad alignment.
- Modifications in the vehicle: If you have made modifications in the vehicle’s shape such as lifting it. Then, you might have disturbed its suspension affecting the vehicle’s balance.
Signs of Bad Alignment
Just as a disease is diagnosed by its symptoms, the car also shows signs of bad alignment. For instance, you may notice your car pulling to one side, or see the steering wheel is late to respond. Some other signs include uneven tire wear, or car vibrating when you drive.
1. Car Pulls on One Side
One of the most common signs of bad alignment is your car pulling on one side. This can be tested by driving on a straight road and leaving the steering. If the wheel is aligned properly, then the car should go straight. But in the case of bad alignment, you will notice that the car moves on one of the sides.
This usually happens when one of your tires is not pointing in the same direction as the others. You may notice this sign when there is an issue with your toe alignment.
2. Uneven Tire/Tread Wear
Another prominent sign of bad alignment is uneven tire wear. Due to bad alignment, the car’s load car isn’t divided equally on the four tires, so one or more tires wears out excessively. And when you examine your tires, you will surely notice the signs of tread wear.
If your tires are wearing out rapidly, it means that the car’s alignment needs to be fixed.
3. Sign Vibrations
Sometimes, bad alignment also damages the suspension components, causing the car to vibrate.
Vibration may be a cause for some other problems in the car’s suspension but along with other signs it indicates that wheels are out of order
4. Steering Problems
When the tires aren’t calibrated properly, the car’s steering is likely to be affected. The more you drive with bad aligned tires, the more difficult it is to steer.
If your steering has a delayed response and wobbles to one side when left uncontrolled, it is likely the car’s tires need a proper adjustment.
What damage can Bad Alignment do to the car?
Bad alignment not only affects your car’s drive, but as mentioned earlier, it severely damages the car tires and suspension components.
- Tire Wear Out: When the camber of your car is not aligned, it causes the tires to scrub while driving. This action wears out the tire treads and sidewalls prematurely.
- Potential Damage to Suspension Components: A car with bad alignment puts unnecessary strain on the suspension system. The joints and suspension parts get damaged due to this increased wear and tear.
Learn More: Drivetrain damage from mismatched tires
Can you drive with a bad alignment?
Yes, you may drive in the initial phase when just you start noticing the signs of bad alignment. But if you keep on dragging the car, the side pulls and steering will make the driving difficult. You may lose control and meet an accident. So, it is not recommended to drive a car that has a bad alignment.
How often should you get your car alignment checked?
It is generally recommended to get your car alignment checked at least once a year, or every 10,000 miles. However, this may vary depending on how often you drive, and what type of roads you drive on. We advise that whenever you take your car for maintenance to a mechanic, get its alignment checked.
Bad alignment is a serious issue that can cause damage to your car. So, if you notice any signs of bad alignment, it is important to take your car to a mechanic rather than keep driving it.