Mechanics Auckland – Wheel alignment service
You’ve probably heard people talk about getting a wheel alignment, but maybe haven’t given it much thought. It’s usually something people don’t even think about and just leave it to their mechanic to tell them if and when they need a wheel alignment.
It’s important to know, however, why this service is incredibly important. It can actually save your life. Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of a wheel alignment – what it is and why you need it.
What is a wheel alignment?
Let’s start by talking about how your tyres should sit under your car. They should be straight and upright, pointing perfectly forward.
Sometimes we see instances where the front two tyres are pointing outward – particularly in a front-wheel-drive car. Imagine someone who walks with their toes pointed outward. We call this toed out, or duck footed. If your tyres point inward – imagine someone who walks with their toes pointed inward – we call this toed in or pigeon toed.
You don’t want either of these types of alignment.
The other thing we want to see is perfect camber – tyres that don’t lean on an angle. They may be pointing forward, but if they’re not perpendicular to the ground, they need to be adjusted. Tyres that lean to one side at an angle won’t drive properly.
Is a wheel alignment the same as a wheel balance?
A wheel alignment and a wheel balance are not the same thing. Wheel balance refers to checking that the weight of a tyre is evenly balanced so that it rotates evenly – which is incredibly important, especially at high speeds. We usually offer wheel balancing through our Tyre Car Package.
What does a wheel alignment involve?
In a wheel alignment service, we’ll check the alignment of your tyres. What we’re really checking, though, is more than just the appearance of your wheels – it’s more than just checking to see if they look straight.
We raise your vehicle up on hoists so we can get a comprehensive look at your wheels and tyres, suspension and steering systems. We have specialised alignment equipment and technology that helps us take precise measurements.
This helps us square the wheels and axles to get them moving in the same direction. We’ll also adjust the suspension angles and make sure your steering wheel is centred according to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
Why do you need a wheel alignment?
We always recommend regular wheel alignment because sometimes it isn’t obvious that your wheels are out of alignment. You may feel your vehicle pulling or drifting to one side. Or you may feel the steering wheel vibrating or shaking. These are usually signs that you need your wheels aligned.
But you may not always feel the misalignment – particularly if you drive a larger vehicle or drive in rural areas where you just assume that bumping and pulling are part of your normal drive. In those conditions it’s even more important to have a wheel check, as that’s the type of driving that can put your wheels out of alignment.
If you’ve been in any sort of car accident – whether you’ve hit another vehicle, a post or bollard, or just bumped up against a curb or hit a pothole – you should have your wheel alignment checked. Often it’s not the force of impact, but the angle that you hit something, that will cause your wheels to become misaligned.
Having your wheel alignment checked is crucial for a number of reasons:
- Safety – Your vehicle is significantly safer with wheels that are aligned. Your steering and braking will be more precise and your vehicle will be more responsive.
- Performance – A wheel alignment is not just about your tyres. If your wheels are angled or not straight, they’ll actually affect your vehicle’s overall suspension.
- Tread wear – The tread on your tyres will last longer with wheels that are correctly aligned. You won’t need to replace them as often as they won’t develop bald spots. But more importantly, gradual and even tread wear will help keep you safe on the road.
- Fuel efficiency – You’ll actually spend less on fuel with properly aligned tyres. If your wheels are out of alignment, your car will pull to one side, fighting against you. This is extra effort that your engine needs to provide energy for. Think of it as aerodynamics – the straighter and smoother the ride, the less energy and fuel the vehicle needs to expend.
- WOF – Your vehicle will likely fail its Warrant of Fitness (WOF) check if your wheels are not aligned. It’s a safety feature that you need to take seriously.
How often should you get your wheels aligned?
We recommend you have your tyres checked regularly, which may be every six months or every 8000 kms for an “average” driver.
There are other times when you may need your wheels aligned:
- You’ve hit something with your vehicle – even just hitting the curb can put your wheels out of alignment
- You feel your vehicle pulling to one side or drifting
- The steering wheel is vibrating
- There is uneven wear in your tyre tread
- Your vehicle has low profile tyres – you may need to have your alignment checked more frequently as they’re more susceptible to imbalance
- You’ve had a flat tyre and changed one of your tyres – it’s important to make sure all four tyres are aligned and working together
- You’ve put on new tyres – even if you’ve just replaced two tyres – new tyres can affect the alignment of all four tyres and the suspension or steering system of your vehicle
What happens if you don’t have your wheels aligned?
If you neglect to have your wheels aligned regularly, you’re neglecting one of the most important ways of looking after your vehicle. It’s also one of the best forms of preventative care for looking after your vehicle.
If your wheels aren’t aligned, even just the slightest:
- You put your safety at risk – your vehicle may not respond quickly enough when turning or braking
- You’ll cause unnecessary wear and tear on the tyres and on your vehicle’s suspension system – you want to avoid preventable, expensive repairs
- You’ll end up using more fuel and paying more than you need to for petrol or diesel because your vehicle is working harder on the road from the resistance
- Your vehicle may fail its Warrant of Fitness (WOF)
- You won’t have a comfortable ride – your vehicle will pull to the side or vibrate
Book in for a Tyre Care Package at Roskill Auto Mechanical for a complete tyre check. We’ll rotate the tyres if needed, check or adjust your wheel alignment, adjust the tyre pressure as needed, and provide a final Wheel Alignment report.