The world is full of potholes, uneven roads, and bad surfaces. These are the most common reasons car owners visit a garage for wheel alignment. Unfortunately, cars with badly aligned wheels can’t handle tough terrain and break down.

Wheel alignment can be a difficult task for many people. It takes precision and patience to get it right, as angles are measured in degrees. In this process, the angles of the wheels and the vehicle’s frame are set according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

It ensures even tire wear, reduces fuel consumption, and minimizes tire-related problems such as excessive tread wear or uneven tire pressure. Alignment also helps improve handling to make driving safer and more enjoyable.
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What are the Symptoms that Show You Need Wheel Alignment?

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Before visiting the mechanic for wheel alignment, do check that your car is not facing the following problems:
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  • Uneven tire wear
  • Improperly inflated tires
  • Tire imbalance
  • Loose or broken wheel bearings
  • Worn suspension parts
  • Bad steering rack

If your car is suffering from any of the above-mentioned problems, it may face problems similar to those due to bad alignment.

The symptoms of a bad wheel alignment can vary depending on the type of vehicle. However, if your car exhibits any of the following symptoms, you should take it to a mechanic for an inspection.

Some symptoms that may indicate misalignment include:

Uneven Tire Wear

Tire wear is a common indicator of alignment problems. The uneven tire wear can be caused by various factors, including poor alignment, worn or damaged tires, or improper inflation. However, poor alignment is the most common cause of uneven tire wear. To diagnose the problem, measure the distance from the centerline to each tire’s outside edge in six places around the vehicle. If any two measurements are more than one inch different from one another, it means your vehicle may need a wheel alignment.
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Excessive Tire Wear

Another symptom of a bad wheel alignment is excessive tire wear. When the car is driving, the tires will show excessive wear on one side of the tread. This is because the car leans to one side when it’s turning, and this causes one set of tires to hit a lot more than the other.

Uneven Steering Wheel

A steering wheel that is not aligned correctly can be a symptom of a bad wheel alignment. If your car has misaligned wheels, you may notice that the steering wheel has a crooked orientation when driving straight. An emblem in the center of your car’s steering wheel tells whether that steering wheel is centered. When driving on a straight road, the emblem is off-level in any direction, and your vehicle needs a wheel alignment.

Inability to Steer in a Straight Line

When the tires on the front and the rear axles are not parallel, your vehicle may be caused to vibrate or pull to one side. This is also known as “toe” or “caster” alignment. To verify whether your car is facing this problem or not, drive on a straight road and take your hands off the steering wheel. If your car is suffering from the issue of bad alignment, it will edge towards one particular side. You can also gauge the severity of the issue by analyzing the pull. A strong pull signifies that alignment is in its worst condition. Similarly, if your car shakes while driving at speeds of 25mph or higher, it notifies you that the wheels are not aligned.

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Don’t try this on a busy road, as it may cause a bad accident.

Loose Steering

A loose steering wheel is a symptom of a bad wheel alignment. A loose steering wheel is not just an annoyance; it can be dangerous as it may cause you to lose control of your vehicle, especially in heavy traffic or on twisting roads.

Vibration in Steering Wheel

Vibration in the steering wheel is a symptom of a bad wheel alignment. The car’s wheels need to be aligned to the center of the car’s tires as the tire will spin and cause vibration in the steering wheel in case of misalignment.

Bumpy Ride

A bumpy ride is one of the most common symptoms of a bad wheel alignment. It happens when the wheels point in a different direction and cause increased friction. Due to increased friction, tires wear out unevenly, and you feel a bumpy ride.
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What Causes Wheel Alignment Problems and Why?

Many different factors can cause wheel alignment problems. These include:

  • Rash driving over potholes
  • Hitting curbs or road debris
  • Minor vehicle collisions
  • Wearing out of shocks, suspension, springs, and other components
  • Changing the height of the vehicle without modifying the suspension.

Consequences of Misalignment and Why It Is Important To Get It Out Right Away

The first consequence of misalignments is that your car will not be handled as it should. It is because the tires need to be properly aligned and gripping the road as they should. It can lead to problems, such as stopping, acceleration, steering, and even fuel efficiency.

The second consequence of misalignments is that you will have to replace your tires more often than you would have otherwise because when your tires are not aligned correctly, they wear down unevenly.

It is important to treat it immediately because misalignment can lead to serious problems, like a poor suspension system, which will cause your car to bounce around while traveling on uneven surfaces. It could also cause damage to your vehicle’s engine parts and cost you more money in the long run.
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Wheel Alignment Cost Explained in Detail

The proper way to align a car is with a four-wheel alignment service that includes an inspection, four sets of measurements (caster angle, camber angle, toe-in/toe-out), and new settings for all four wheels (caster angle, camber angle). The price for this service varies by location but averages around $100-$200. The final cost of a wheel alignment varies according to vehicle type and the service center. Besides, the cost may go up if your vehicle needs other repairs.

Depending on the make and model of your car, the cost may vary. Here is a list of some dealers who provide alignment services in the US and the cost they charge in 2022.

Make and ModelCost
Toyota Camry$164-$252
Toyota Corolla$60-$218
Dodge Charger$60-$300
Honda Civic$60-$145
Honda Accord$60-$149
Chevrolet Corvette$164-$250
Ford Mustang$60-$200
Jeep Wrangler$60-$167

It is important to note that most independent workshops can only perform alignments on some cars due to a lack of required tools and knowledge. However, some superstores such as Costco and Walmart perform these services because they have an auto repair department. Car dealerships should be the prime option in this regard, as they can perform alignment on the vehicles of their brand.

Personal Experience

I faced this problem a couple of years ago when I bought my HONDA CIVIC 2005. When I purchased it, it had an uneven steering wheel, and it used to vibrate at higher speeds. Initially, I was not only blank about the real issue but also worried about the cost of having it repaired. But, when I visited HONDA’s official workshop, they told me my car’s wheels were misaligned, which was not an issue as big as I had been thinking. Besides, they charged me $50 for aligning the wheels of my car, which was an affordable amount.

Conclusion/Key Takeaway Points

The alignment service is one of the most important preventive maintenance services that your car needs. It would help if you got your car aligned as soon as you noticed something was not right with the alignment of your wheels. Proper alignment improves fuel efficiency and increases the handling, stability, and life span of your car’s tires.


The average wheel alignment should last about 3-4 years, though it depends on many factors, such as driving habits, quality of tires, and road conditions. However, to get the best performance out of your car, you should have your car’s wheel aligned every time you go for your vehicle’s oil change.

New tires can cause the alignment to go out of whack. It is because the new tires might be heavier than the old ones or sit differently on the wheel. The alignment will need to be adjusted to compensate for this difference. So it is recommended to have an alignment as soon as possible.

Your car’s performance may suffer if it has bad alignment since it will be wasting gas and putting unnecessary strain on other parts of the car. Moreover, bad alignment may make your tires wear out faster and lead to unsafe driving conditions.

The time it takes for an alignment on a car can vary depending on what type of vehicle you may have, but it mostly takes about 30 minutes.

Yes, every vehicle has its unique alignment specification. The vehicle’s size, length, weight, and intended use play a vital role in determining the correct alignment angles.

Wheel alignment is a process that ensures that the car’s wheels are positioned correctly about each other. On the other hand, wheel balancing is a process that ensures that the weight of all four wheels is evenly distributed.