Denver drivers ought to be concerned about wheel alignments for two primary reasons: safety and money. When your wheels are out of alignment, they can pull to one side, sometimes severely. One moment of inattention could put you into on-coming traffic, a curb, or off the road. And an improper alignment will chew up your tires very quickly when you’re driving on freeways and surface streets.
One of our customers said the wheels on his vehicle were a little out of alignment before a family vacation, but he didn’t think it was that bad, so he didn’t take care of it before he left on his trip. A couple of days and a lot of highway driving later and his front tires were worn down to the cords. He had to take a half day out of his mountain vacation to find a town large enough to have a tire center so he could get replacements.
All four wheels are supposed to be lined up and pointed in the same direction. Sometimes one or more goes out of alignment and is pulling against the rest of the team. In addition to excessive tire wear, this also hurts fuel economy.
Part of the alignment service is an inspection of the steering and suspension components. Whatever caused the wheels to be knocked out of alignment in the first place may have also damaged important parts. So we want to be sure to replace broken or bent parts as needed. The process corrects alignment of each wheel along three axes: toe, camber and caster, as well as front to rear alignment.
Your vehicle owner’s manual may have a recommendation for how often alignment should be checked. If not, ask your helpful service adviser. Here are some things to look for that should be a warning that you need to get in for an alignment check right away: Your vehicle is pulling to one side, your steering wheel isn’t centered, you feel a vibration at higher speed or you see unusual tire wear.