When to Get Your Car Alignment Checked

There’s a fine line between being in or out of alignment. Even a slight variation in the direction that any of your four wheels are facing can impact your gas mileage, tire wear, and safety. You might not even know your vehicle is out of alignment until the damage is done. Here are some tips on when to get your alignment checked and what to look for between those free inspections.


Get Your Alignment Checked Twice Per Year

Most people wouldn’t miss an oil change or other routine maintenance. Getting those things done can add to the longevity of your vehicle and can save you money. Getting your alignment checked twice a year should be another part of your car-care schedule.

Winter driving over ice ruts, potholes, and rough roads, as well as impacts with curbs and other road debris during other times of the year, can throw off your vehicle’s alignment. Two of the best times to have your alignment checked include early spring and fall. If you can only make it in once per year, schedule your alignment check for the spring, that way you’re ready for all of your summertime adventures.

The pros at your local Les Schwab can do a free visual inspection of your vehicle’s alignment. If we see anything amiss, we’ll suggest a more comprehensive alignment check. If there’s nothing wrong with your alignment, we’ll send you on your way.


Normal Wear Can Also Affect Your Vehicle’s Alignment

Usual driving conditions and normal wear and tear on your vehicle, including your daily commute on the highway, can affect your alignment. Plus, any time you get new tires, lower or lift your vehicle, replace suspension parts that affect the tire angles, or you’ve had a fender-bender, it’s a good idea to have your alignment checked. Get into your local Les Schwab if you notice pulling to one side as you drive, or the steering wheel is off-center when you’re driving straight.

Les Schwab Tip: If you notice one or more of your tires wearing more quickly than the others, your vehicle could be out of alignment.


Passengers and Gear Can Affect Your Alignment

Adding uneven weight, such as tools, sandbags for winter traction, or carrying heavy loads for an extended period can throw your vehicle out of alignment. That includes truck toolboxes and accessories that affect the height or weight of your vehicle.


Yes, Alignments are Necessary

Check out the article Do I Really Need an Alignment for a more in-depth look at the causes and parameters of a properly aligned vehicle. In it, you’ll learn about alignment measurements, tire angles, as well as some of the issues an out-of-alignment vehicle can cause.


Getting it Straight

A vehicle that’s properly aligned handles correctly, achieves optimal fuel efficiency, and maximizes your tire life. When one of your tires is even slightly out of alignment, it is essentially skidding. This makes that tire wear out faster. It’s also the reason your vehicle might pull or wander to one side. This can waste fuel, cost you money, and cause safety concerns. Plus, it can add unnecessary wear-and-tear to your car or truck.

When your vehicle needs to be realigned, the experts at Les Schwab will do one of two types of alignments. These include:

  • 4-Wheel Alignment. This is for vehicles that have adjustment capability at all four wheels, common on most front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, passenger cars, SUVs, and crossover vehicles.

  • Thrust Alignment. This is for vehicles that have an adjustment capability only available on the front axle. This includes larger trucks and SUVs with solid, rear axels.

Remember, getting your vehicle back in alignment will not put tread back on your tires or fix any damage done to your vehicle’s suspension or other steering components. That’s why it’s vital you have your alignment checked at least once per year (twice per year is ideal).

Check out our list of Alignment FAQs for some quick answers to common questions.


Schedule Your Free Visual Alignment Check

The pros at your local Les Schwab can take a look at your vehicle’s alignment and let you know if you need any repairs. If everything looks good, it won’t cost you a thing. If you do need an alignment, we’ll get the job done right and send you home with our Best Alignment Value Promise, which includes a 30-day guarantee and a warranty on all labor costs.