• Do I Really Need an Alignment?

    Alignment assures your tires meet the road at the proper angle, your wheels are pointing straight and your tires are centered in the wheel wells. It adjusts the angles of your vehicle’s wheels to original specs for best gas mileage, proper road contact, a smooth ride, and the longest tire life.


    Common Signs of Wheel Misalignment

    An alignment service is important to do when:

    • You get new tires.
    • You lower or lift your vehicle.
    • Suspension parts that affect the tire angles are replaced or adjusted.
    • You’ve had a fender-bender or a hard impact with a curb or road debris.
    • It’s been a year since your last one.
    • You notice uneven tire wear, steering pull, or an off-center steering wheel.

    We recommend an alignment after the installation of new tires. This helps you get the most life from your new tires. Wheel alignment checks are always advised after a significant impact or uneven tire wear is detected.

    Also, get a check annually, or twice yearly if you typically travel on rough roads. Regular checks are important because alignment issues aren’t always obvious. The wrong toe angle can go unnoticed and so can atypical tire wear. Cars usually go out of alignment gradually, so you may not realize how much it was impacting drivability, gas mileage or tire wear until it’s corrected.

    The most common signs of misalignment are pulling to one side while you’re driving, unusual tire wear and/or a steering wheel that’s off-center even though your vehicle is pointed straight. But these symptoms can have other causes, sometimes simpler and sometimes not.

    Steering pull can be caused by road conditions. If the asphalt has grooves that are slightly farther apart than your car’s axles, you may feel a pull as the tires on one side ride slightly higher. If the road is noticeably higher in the center, the vehicle may veer as the tires try to find a level surface.

    Torque steer is a pull that happens during acceleration, from a difference in power being delivered to the wheels. A pull only during braking is probably from a caliper on one side sticking and not fully disengaging from the brake disc. A failing tire and improper tire rotation are two more causes of steering wheel pull.

    Poor alignment may not be the issue if your steering wheel sometimes tugs in one direction and then the other. A bent or worn suspension part — ball joints, strut bearings or tie rods — could be to blame.

    Atypical tire wear may be the result of worn shocks or struts, bushings or springs, or from carrying heavy loads (all of which can also put your vehicle out of alignment). Uneven wear can also be caused by driving on over-, underinflated or imbalanced tires.

    An off-center steering wheel can be caused by worn steering or suspension parts. Just getting an alignment won’t fix the root cause.

    One last common point of confusion: Vibration while underway is often a symptom of out-of-balance tires, not bad alignment.

    Lifting or lowering a vehicle will affect your toe, camber or caster angles. So will repair or replacement of suspension and steering parts — struts, shocks, ball joints, tie rods, bushings or control arms. If one of these components is damaged, it’s a pretty good bet your vehicle’s alignment is out of spec. If you don’t fix them before your vehicle is aligned, you’ll soon have the problem recur.


    Tips Before Getting Service

    Because the measurements are very fine, misalignment is not something you can see by just eyeballing whether the wheels and tire angles look right. But an experienced tire technician will usually know if you’re overdue for an alignment just by looking at your tire wear.

    Here’s what to know if the service is recommended:

    • If you have a damaged suspension part, replace it first. Worn or bad parts will put your vehicle right back out of spec.
    • The technician may recommend a thrust alignment or a four-wheel alignment. Here’s a primer to understand what they’re talking about.
    • Before service, let the tech know you’d like a printout showing what your alignment measurements were prior to the work being done and the final settings for your records. You can verify the job was truly necessary. Here’s an example of what you’ll see.

    • Measurements Before Alignment:

      printout of measurements before alignment


      Measurements After Alignment:

      printout of measurements after alignment

      While looking at existing tire wear is one way to identify misalignment, It’s ideal to have your vehicle aligned annually to help catch and correct any misalignment issues before you experience early and unnecessary tire wear. Regular alignments are part of basic maintenance that help you get full mileage out of your tires.


      Schedule an Appointment
    • How Do I Know If My Tires Need to Be Balanced?

      Tire balancing is a tune-up for your wheel-tire set. It makes sure that weight is evenly distributed around the entire circumference of the unit. The common symptoms of out-of-balance tires are uneven and faster tread wear, poor fuel economy, and vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard or the seat that gets worse at faster speeds.

      When all areas of the wheel-tire unit are as equal in weight as possible, the tire will roll smoothly. This helps it wear evenly, for longest life. Balancing also contributes to ride comfort: Imbalanced tires will wobble or hop up and down, which causes vibration. If a front tire isn’t properly balanced you’ll likely feel vibration in the steering wheel. If the problem is in the rear the tremor will be noticeable in the seat or floor.

      Imbalanced tires are easily corrected, but the work is precise. It’s done by attaching small weights, just fractions of ounces, to the wheel.


      How Do Wheels Get Out of Balance?

      Everyday wear on tires will contribute to imbalance. Normal manufacturing imperfections are also a cause: Tires and wheels don’t have precisely equal weight distribution. They’ll be slightly heavier in some spots.

      Just half an ounce in weight difference is enough to cause a vibration when you’re driving.


      How Tires Are Rebalanced

      Rebalancing is done in a tire shop by putting the wheel-tire unit on a tire balancing machine that takes measurements to pinpoint lighter or heavier areas and making adjustments to account for these weight differences. The best time to get it done is when tires are being rotated, both for convenience and because you might have a tire out of balance on the rear of the vehicle and won’t feel it until it is moved to the front.

      Here’s how it’s done:

      1. A tire mounted on a wheel is attached to a tire balancing machine.

      2. The wheel is spun while vibration measurements are taken. This tells the tech if the weight is spread evenly, how much weight to add and where on the wheel to attach it.

      3. If an imbalance is found, the technician may be able to rebalance and adjust the weights (adding more). But sometimes it requires the tech to also move the tire on the wheel and then rebalance. This is because a heavy spot on the wheel and on the tire can sometimes line up together, causing a greater imbalance that needs to be corrected.

      Wheel weight on tire


      Balancing Versus Alignment

      Though both should be part of regular auto maintenance, balancing isn’t the same as getting an alignment. Wheel alignment corrects the angles of the tires so they travel in the same direction and make contact with the road properly. Alignment reduces uneven tire wear and extends the life of your tires. Oftentimes tire balancing and alignment are perceived to be the same thing, but are not.


      When to Get Tire Balancing Done:

      • You feel vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard or your seat.
      • You get them rotated, generally every 5,000 miles.
      • At the very least every two years, once yearly if you drive rough roads.
      • You get a flat and repair a tire.
      • You buy any new tire(s).
      • A weight that used to be on the rim falls off.
      • You notice uneven tire wear.

      Tire balancing and rotation are often done at the same time, but they aren’t the same service. Tire rotation is when a vehicle’s front and rear wheels are switched to even out tread wear between them. Since both require removing each wheel, it’s convenient to do them at the same time.

      Vibration when underway could be caused by an imbalanced tire and wheel assembly or something else — a bent wheel, a damaged tire (which won’t be fixed by balancing), worn suspension parts or other aging components. If you feel a vibration, don’t wait to get it diagnosed. You’ll head off other problems — and enjoy a smoother ride — when your tires are well balanced.


      Schedule an Appointment
    • How to: Make Your Tires Last Longer

      Do you like plunking down your hard-earned money on a new set of tires? Unless you’re a true enthusiast, probably not. If you want to extend the life of your tires, improve your car’s ride, and have a safer drive, follow these four quick tips.


      1. Check Your Tire Air Pressure Monthly

      Take the easiest step to extend tire life: Maintain the correct air pressure. The wrong air pressure can cause sluggish handling, increase stopping distance, increase wear and tear and heighten the risk of a blowout. Tire pressure changes:

      • Every month. Tires can lose about a pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure monthly.
      • In winter, when colder temperatures can lower air pressure.
      • In summer, when warm weather increases tire air pressure.

      Checking tire pressure with a round tire pressure gauge
      Check tire pressure monthly

      This isn’t just about money, either. Proper tire pressure is important for safety. A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Crash Causation Survey found tire issues in one out of 11 crashes. (Source: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811617.pdf [PDF]) Correct air pressure improves fuel efficiency. Underinflated tires mean you’re getting fewer miles to the gallon and paying more for gas than you need to. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. (See more gas mileage tips at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml.) The right tire pressure is an easy "win." Go check!


      2. Get Your Tires Rotated Every 5,000 Miles

      In most cars, only one or two wheels “drive” the car at a time. That can cause uneven tire wear. For example, on front-wheel drive vehicles, front tires wear faster. On rear-wheel drive vehicles, it’s the back tires. Even all-wheel drive vehicles can see uneven wear, as most shift the drive from one wheel to another. A technician rotates your tires by moving them to different wheel positions on the vehicle. That gives tires on drive wheels a rest and evens out wear. Rotation makes tires last longer. Do it every 5,000 miles.

      Schedule a Tire Rotation


      3. Have Wheels Balanced

      Tire rotation is a great time to get your wheels balanced, as well. Every tire and wheel has a heavy spot in it. None is perfect, even when brand new. The difference is tiny, measured in one-quarter to one-half ounces. But that small difference can cause vibration and uneven tire wear. Your mechanic can balance each wheel using a specialized machine and small weights. As the tire wears, he may need to move or change that weight. It’s a fast, easy process that costs a lot less than a new tire! Make sure you get your tires’ balance checked and adjusted during rotation.

      Wheel and tire on whel balancing machine.
      Get wheels balanced

      Schedule a Wheel Balance


      4. Check Your Alignment Twice a Year

      Misalignment may make your tires toed-in (“pigeon-toed”) or toed-out (“duck-footed”).

      Toed-in and toed-out misalignment
      Toed-in and toed-out misalignment

      If your car actively pulls or drifts right or left, or the steering wheel vibrates or shakes, your car may have an alignment problem. But your car or truck could be driving fine and still be out of alignment. When you bump up against a parking lot barrier, hit a pothole, or hit the curb, something has to give, and it’s often your alignment. The smallest misalignment can reduce fuel efficiency, and increase tread wear. Your mechanic can adjust your car’s alignment. Take your car in for a check every six months. Or whenever you think something is wrong. A little maintenance can help save a lot of money. Follow these easy, inexpensive tire maintenance tips and you can increase tire life. You’ll also improve gas mileage, extend the life of your car, and make your drive a safer one. You can start right now: Check your tire pressure. See? That wasn’t hard, and you just saved yourself some money.

      Schedule a Free Visual Alignment Check

    • Benefits of Proper Alignment, Suspension Maintenance

      Why Alignment Matters

      In its simplest form, alignment is keeping all of the tires on your vehicle moving in the same direction and at the same angle to maximize control and driving efficiency.

      A vehicle with proper alignment handles correctly, achieves optimal fuel efficiency and maximizes tire life.

      On the other hand, a vehicle with poor alignment pulls or drifts on the road, wastes fuel, and causes premature and uneven tire wear. Poor alignment puts your safety at risk.

      Here’s another way to think about alignment. In a poorly aligned vehicle, each wheel may be pointing in a slightly different direction, which means each tire will be skidding just a little whenever you drive. If your tires are perpetually skidding, they not only wear out prematurely but also make it harder for your vehicle to move. This puts extra stress on your vehicle, consumes more fuel and costs you money.

      How does your car get out of alignment and what’s needed to get back into alignment? A car comes aligned by the factory when it’s purchased new. Its alignment can change over the course of normal driving. Poor alignment might happen faster from driving on rough roads or hitting potholes, curbs and other obstacles.

      Les Schwab tech performs alignment

      There are a number of different procedures and techniques to align a vehicle. In general, they all work toward getting your car’s wheels and tires to do two basic things:

      • Get them all traveling in the same direction.
      • Get the tires to strike the road at the proper angle.

      There are several different types of alignments available today. Your Les Schwab alignment professional will review with you all the types of alignment appropriate for your vehicle.

      Not sure if your vehicle needs an alignment? Just ask. If we inspect your vehicle and find your wheels are within the factory specified range, we won’t charge you a penny. If you do need it aligned, however, our work is backed by our Les Schwab warranty.


      Why Suspension Matters

      Now let’s talk about suspension. Your car is suspended by a unique combination of springs, shocks or struts. Shock absorbers aid in ride control by keeping the tires on the road and preventing excess bounce after hitting a bump.

      Les Schwab tech installs shocks

      Keeping your tires on the road is the only way you keep control of your car. Worn or damaged shocks don’t keep your tires on the road like they’re supposed to, which means you have less control over your vehicle. This is especially dangerous on rough and winding roads.

      Because worn or damaged shocks aren’t doing their job, additional problems can happen, including accelerated wear on other parts of your suspension system and tires, costing you even more money in the future.


      Is My Suspension Bad?

      Because shocks and struts wear slowly over time, it’s sometimes difficult to know if they’re working properly or not. Not sure if your suspension needs work? Here are a few symptoms to look for:

      • Does your vehicle feel like it rolls or sways on turns?
      • Does the front end of your car dive when braking, then bounce when stopped?
      • Does your car bounce or feel like it’s sliding on winding or rough roads?
      • Does your car bottom out on bumps?
      • Can you feel your car shimmying back and forth through the steering wheel when you drive?

      If so, you’ll want to have one of our trained suspension experts take a look at your vehicle.

      Following industry inspection procedures, we’ll check to see if any of your suspension parts need to be replaced. If so, we’ll provide you with a complete cost estimate free of charge, so you can make an informed decision. Les Schwab Tires uses only professional grade parts. And, they’re backed with Les Schwab’s Parts and Labor Warranty.

      Alignment, suspension, shocks and struts are all important parts of enjoying a safe, comfortable ride in your vehicle. Properly maintained, they will not only help to keep you safe but will also save you money in increased fuel efficiency and lower repair and replacement costs.

      If you have questions about your suspension or your alignment, ask one of our helpful trained professionals at a store near you.


      Schedule an Alignment
    • Wheel Alignment FAQ


      What Is a Wheel Alignment?

      Though it’s sometimes subtle, the alignment of your wheels can get out of whack from everyday driving. This reduces your vehicle’s drivability, lowers gas mileage and causes early tire wear. An alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of your vehicle’s wheels back within original specifications to improve their contact with the road.


      Are Wheel Alignments Necessary?

      An alignment improves vehicle safety by keeping the right amount of the tire in contact with the road and preventing your vehicle from pulling to the left or right. A properly aligned vehicle has a smoother ride and optimal gas mileage. Keeping the wheels aligned also extends tire life.


      What Affects Wheel Alignment?

      Over time, normal settling of the suspension, including fatigue of springs and bushings (rubber cushions that dampen the amount of movement and noise), will gradually change alignment. Hitting a pothole, going over big bumps, rubbing up against a curb or rolling over debris can also push wheels out of alignment. Additionally, aggressive driving, carrying heavy loads, bent or worn suspension/steering parts, or a slight fender-bender can trigger misalignment. To improve your vehicle safety, get your vehicle aligned twice a year or when you buy new tires. Other times to get your alignment checked include:

      • After a sharp impact with a curb or pothole

      • If you go offroading a lot

      • When tires are wearing unevenly

      • Anytime you lower or lift your vehicle

      • When steering or suspension parts that affect the tire angles are replaced

      • If you notice your vehicle drifts or pulls to one side

      • If the steering wheel is off-center when you’re pointing straight

      • After an accident


      How Can I Tell If My Vehicle is Misaligned?

      Even if your vehicle is out of alignment, you might not notice it over time. Indications of a misaligned vehicle include:

      Icon showing uneven tire wear

      Uneven
      Tire Wear


      Icon showing an off-center steering wheel

      Steering Wheel
      Off-Center


      Icon showing a vehicle pulling to the right

      Pulling or Drifting
      When Steering



      Can Misalignment Cause Steering Wheel Vibration?

      Not likely. Vibrations in the steering wheel, the floorboard or the seat (especially at highway or freeway speeds) is likely a sign that one or more of your tire/wheel assemblies is out-of-balance, or you are experiencing another tire issue.


      Can Misalignment Cause Noise?

      No. Generally, any noise from misalignment is caused by abnormal tire wear. If tires are the source of road noise, an alignment correction may be needed. However, this won’t solve the noise problem.


      Will Misalignment Affect My Tires?

      Yes. If they show moderate-to-severe edge wear or feathered wear, it likely means they’re out of alignment. This is often an indicator that the toe or the camber angle is off.

      Toe and camber misalignment graphic

      Camber Affects Wear and Cornering: The inward and outward tilt of the tire and wheel assembly (viewed from the front of the vehicle) is called camber. When the top of the tire is leaning inward, it is a negative camber. Positive camber has the top of the tire tilting outward. Each manufacturer sets a specific camber alignment for every vehicle it produces, which might be either positive, negative or zero (0º). When the camber is at the correct angle, the tire and wheel will roll straight.

      Generally, camber plays a key-role in cornering performance. If the camber is out of the manufacturer’s range, it can cause handling issues and excessive tire wear, which costs you money. If a vehicle has rear-camber adjustments, adjusting the rear camber plays a big role in straight-line stability and cornering.

      Toe Is the Most Important Angle for Tire Life: Of all the angles, the toe can fall out of alignment the easiest. A toe that is properly calibrated to manufacturer specifications (which can be either slightly positive or negative) will be at zero (0º) when on the road. This means all of the tire and wheel assemblies (front and rear) are pointing in the same direction. When the toe is at the correct angle, there’s less friction on the tires as they roll. When they are facing away from each other (toe-out) or toward each other (toe-in), they’re essentially scrubbing on the road ever so slightly with every passing mile. This can reduce tire life.


      Will Misalignment Affect My Tires?

      Toe and camber misalignment graphic

      Yes. If they show moderate-to-severe edge wear or feathered wear, it likely means they’re out of alignment. This is often an indicator that the toe or the camber angle is off.

      Camber Affects Wear and Cornering: The inward and outward tilt of the tire and wheel assembly (viewed from the front of the vehicle) is called camber. When the top of the tire is leaning inward, it is a negative camber. Positive camber has the top of the tire tilting outward. Each manufacturer sets a specific camber alignment for every vehicle it produces, which might be either positive, negative or zero (0º). When the camber is at the correct angle, the tire and wheel will roll straight.

      Generally, camber plays a key-role in cornering performance. If the camber is out of the manufacturer’s range, it can cause handling issues and excessive tire wear, which costs you money. If a vehicle has rear-camber adjustments, adjusting the rear camber plays a big role in straight-line stability and cornering.

      Toe Is the Most Important Angle for Tire Life: Of all the angles, the toe can fall out of alignment the easiest. A toe that is properly calibrated to manufacturer specifications (which can be either slightly positive or negative) will be at zero (0º) when on the road. This means all of the tire and wheel assemblies (front and rear) are pointing in the same direction. When the toe is at the correct angle, there’s less friction on the tires as they roll. When they are facing away from each other (toe-out) or toward each other (toe-in), they’re essentially scrubbing on the road ever so slightly with every passing mile. This can reduce tire life.


      How Are Wheel Alignments Done?

      A wheel alignment is done using an alignment machine that measures your wheel angles. These are calculated and compared against your vehicle’s original specifications.

      • The technician makes adjustments to the camber, caster, and toe of each wheel as needed.

      • A real-time computer readout shows when the target angles are met.

      • Your steering wheel is checked to ensure it is centered.

      • Finally, your vehicle is given a quick test drive.


      What Are the Types of Alignment?

      Your technician will advise what kind of alignment is best for your vehicle type. Generally, a four-wheel alignment will cost more than a standard or thrust alignment.

      Thrust Alignment: A thrust alignment is the most accurate alignment for vehicles without adjustable rear suspension. Only the front wheels are adjusted. Here’s how: There’s no guarantee both rear wheels are pointed straight ahead as they should be. One may be pointed exactly forward and the other slightly off. Or both their angles could be off. Since this can’t be adjusted, the front wheels are aligned as closely as possible to the thrust line, which is the average of where the two rear wheels point. This compensates enough to get a centered steering wheel.

      Four-Wheel Alignment: This is done on vehicles with adjustable rear suspension, to bring all four wheels of your vehicle back into your vehicle’s original specifications. All four wheels are aligned to the center of the vehicle. First, the rear axle angles are measured and adjusted, then the front. This is the best, most accurate, manufacturer-recommended alignment for vehicles with adjustable rear suspension.


      Should I Get an Alignment When I Get New Tires?

      Yes. Getting an alignment when you replace tires is one of the best ways to get the most mileage out of them. Be sure to ask for an alignment, since it’s not generally part of the tire purchase price.


      How Often Is Wheel Alignment Needed?

      Regular alignments are part of basic auto maintenance. Catching misalignment early means you can correct your wheel’s positions before you have premature tire wear. Cars usually go out of alignment gradually, so it’s important to check it at least annually, or twice a year if you travel roads that are washboard, rutted or full of potholes.


      What Other Times Should Alignment Be Checked?

      • After a sharp impact with a curb or pothole

      • If you go offroading a lot

      • When tires are wearing unevenly

      • Anytime you lower or lift your vehicle

      • When steering or suspension parts that affect the tire angles are replaced

      • If you notice your vehicle drifts or pulls to one side

      • If the steering wheel is off-center when you’re pointing straight

      • After an accident

      Les Schwab does free visual alignment inspections. If we recommend an alignment but find during the course of the work that your alignment is good and can’t be improved, there’s no charge.)


      Is Four-Wheel Alignment Only for 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles?

      Regardless of whether they’re 4WD, front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive, most cars and many SUVs today are four-wheel alignable. These vehicles should get a four-wheel alignment because the rear is just as likely to be out of alignment and cause uneven tire wear as the front.


      Does Misalignment Affect Gas Mileage?

      Yes. When your wheels are properly aligned, there’s less rolling resistance. Tires with less rolling resistance experience less friction which may improve fuel efficiency. If the situation continues, the tires will wear unevenly and lead to worse gas mileage.


      Is Alignment the Same As Balancing?

      No. Alignment and balancing are two very different repairs. Rebalancing tires is a process of attaching small weights, just fractions of ounces, to the wheel. This ensures the weight of the wheel is even around the entire unit. Although they’re round, tires have manufacturing imperfections and wear that create lighter and heavier areas. The weights compensate for this.

      Rebalancing is done in a tire shop by putting the wheel-tire unit on a tire-balancing machine that detects imbalance in the tire/wheel assembly. This shows where the imbalance is and the amount of weight needed to counter that imbalance. It’s most often done when new tires are installed. Les Schwab performs tire balancing with every rotation. However, it is not part of an alignment.


      What’s Included With an Alignment?

      Les Schwab wheel alignments include a tire inspection, test drive before, steering and suspension inspection, tire pressure check and adjustment, alignment angles measured and adjusted, test drive after, and a printed report showing before and after measurements. Alignments done at Les Schwab Tires are covered by a 30-day guarantee, which includes labor.


      Will an Alignment Fix a Crooked Steering Wheel? Loose Steering?

      An off-center steering wheel is one sign of misalignment. A wheel alignment may restore the steering wheel to a centered position if there aren’t other undiagnosed problems.

      When alignment angles are out of the vehicle’s original specifications, steering can feel slightly loose. This condition can be corrected by a wheel alignment. But if you’re noticing a lot more steering wheel movement than normal, there may be worn steering or suspension parts. In this case, the loose parts should be identified in the pre-alignment inspection and repairs should be recommended before aligning.


      Are Wheel Alignments Covered Under Warranty?

      Check your vehicle’s owner manual for the original warranty.


      How Much Does a Wheel Alignment Cost?

      It varies according to vehicle type, shop, region and type of alignment. A quality shop will advise in advance what type is best and what it will cost before performing the work. A great shop only charges for work that is actually needed once the job is underway.


      Where Can I Get a Wheel Alignment Done?

      Les Schwab Tires offers full wheel alignment services — including adjustments and free inspections — usually without an appointment.


      How Long Does a Wheel Alignment Take?

      A wheel alignment service, once your vehicle is in our service bay, can take up to one hour. The time frame depends on the severity of the misalignment and whether or not your vehicle requires a thrust, or four-wheel alignment. The pros at your local Les Schwab Tires can give you an accurate time estimate.

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    • 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.


      Schedule an Appointment