A customer recently asked, “Why do I need an alignment? Didn’t you guys balance the tires?”
Both balancing tires and correcting an alignment are essential to car maintenance and a smooth ride.
A wheel balance corrects uneven distribution of weight which can lead to vibration, excessive tire wear, damage to the suspension, and other problems.
Tires may be out of balance due to lack of use or from striking curbs, potholes, or debris. If you notice vibrations while driving or that your tires are wearing unevenly, then you may need one or more wheels balanced. To correct this problem, one of our technicians will use a machine which indicates precisely where they should apply additional weights to balance the wheel assembly.
Tires should be balanced as part of a tire rotation, after a flat tire repair, or as part of routine maintenance.
While wheel balancing is about weight, an alignment is all about angles.
An alignment isn’t about the wheels themselves, but rather how the wheels connect to the vehicle’s suspension. Imagine turning your toes outward and waddling like a penguin. While it may be funny to observe someone walking so awkwardly, it is less hilarious when your car is doing it.
Performing an alignment on your vehicle prevents it from veering left or right. It also may alleviate some annoying vibrations. If you have recently been in an accident, hit a large pothole, or collided with a curb, you may need an alignment.
In addition to the vehicle pulling from one side to the other, there are other signs your vehicle is misaligned: the steering wheel tilts off-center or vibrates during acceleration; tires are squealing, tire treads are unevenly worn.
While a smoother ride and longer lasting tires should be incentive enough to keep the vehicle properly aligned, another good reason is the savings at the gas pump. Getting a vehicle alignment can increase gas mileage by as much as 10%
Another common question is whether an alignment is necessary after buying four new tires. Think of it like going to a fast food restaurant and ordering a salad instead of a double bacon cheeseburger? Is it necessary to order the salad instead of the burger? No, but it is a good idea.
If your vehicle is displaying any early or uneven tire wear, vibrating, or it’s been awhile since you had it serviced, consider scheduling an appointment for one of our skilled technicians to diagnose and service your car.
Source: Firestone Complete Auto Care