Each year, Canadians spend thousands of dollars replacing old tires. Little do they know, you can extend the life of your car’s tires just by getting the alignment done regularly. What exactly does a tire alignment entail? How does it benefit your tires and the rest of your vehicle? These are essential things that all drivers should know. You should also know if you’re using the correct type of tires for your driving style and habits.
Keep reading to find out how to get the most out of your tires through regular alignments and safer driving habits.
What Does a Tire Alignment Entail?
Over time, the angle of your wheels change. The wear-and-tear that comes with driving your vehicle causes the suspension to shift. The suspension connects your tires to the car and dictates how the tires and the road will make contact. For your vehicle to drive balanced and consistently, the suspension needs regular checkups and the wheels need regular alignments.
Most mechanics will check their clients’ cars’ alignment every 2-3 years. However, if your vehicle is showing signs of misalignment, they’ll do it sooner. Here are some common symptoms:
- The tread on your tires shows uneven wear on one side of the tire
- When driving straight, your vehicle pulls to the left or right
- You need to turn your steering wheel slightly to drive in a straight line
- You frequently hear squealing sounds from your tires
If you notice any of these signs, book an appointment for an alignment
Sometimes, however, you won’t know that your car has alignment issues until you bring it in for maintenance. Your mechanic could notice the uneven tread wear and suspect misalignment.
To check for misalignment, the technician will Put the vehicle on an alignment rack, which lifts it and connects sensors to the wheels. The sensors tell the computer the exact angles of the wheels, which the mechanic can compare to the vehicle’s specifications.
The sensors are testing three main components of the suspension: camber, toe, and caster.
The camber is the inward or outward angle of the tire when viewed specifically from the front of the vehicle. When the camber isn’t straight, you can get wear on the ball joints and bearings. The toe is the angle your tires lean inwards or outwards, but specifically when viewed from above the vehicle. The caster angle refers to the angle of your steering axis.
If you let these misalignment issues continue, you’ll notice significant wear on your tires. They might show signs of feathering (when the toe angle is off), indicated when the tread look smooth on one side of the tire and sharp on the other. An unbalanced camber will cause the outer or inner tread to be worn more than the centre. Tires with severe wear can affect your vehicle’s performance and safety.
What Are the Benefits of An Alignment?
There are many benefits of getting an alignment for your entire car, not just for the tires.
- Better handling – A vehicle with aligned suspension will drive smoother than a misaligned one. You won’t struggle to steer straight or go out of your way to turn the wheel where you want the car to go. There won’t be any vibrating in your steering wheel, and your tires won’t get uneven wear patterns.
- Extended tire life – As the title says, alignments can extend the life of your tires. When tires experience uneven tread wear, they need to be replaced sooner than a car with balanced wear. Because the contact between the road and tires is focused on one part of the tread instead of the whole tire, it only gets worn in that one spot. Tires with proper alignment disperse the contact with the road evenly across the full tread.
- Saves you money – Besides benefitting your tires, getting regular alignments is great for the rest of the vehicle and your wallet.
- Save on gas – When your wheels are misaligned, your vehicle’s engine must work harder to propel itself forward, thus going through fuel at a higher rate.
- Save on repairs – You’ll also save money on more costly repairs, because proper alignment will reduce the wear on the wheel assembly as a whole, extending their lives as well.
You should get your tires aligned any time you buy new tires to be installed. When you get your winter tires put on or taken off, this is an excellent opportunity for the technician to check the alignment.
Other Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Tires
To ensure your tires last as long as they’re supposed to, take extra care of them. Get alignments regularly and pay attention to possible signs of misalignment. Here are some other ways to extend the life of your tires.
- Check your tires’ air pressure every month. Remember, cold weather can cause your tires to lose air pressure faster than usual. It’s normal for them to lose around one pound PSI each month, so make sure you’re refilling the air regularly.
- Rotate your tires every 8,000-10,000 km, especially if you have rear-wheel or front-wheel drive. If your car has front-wheel drive, that means your front tires take the brunt of the wear and tear. By rotating their positions on the vehicle, you even out the wear pattern and extend their usefulness.
- Drive calmly and safely. For your tires to age well, they need steady, consistent use. That means you should avoid aggressive acceleration, sudden braking, and speeding around corners. Although it’s not as fun, driving safely will extend the life of your tires.
- Store them properly. When you get your winter tires put on, where do you store your summer tires? It’s essential that you store them away from sunlight. UV rays from sun exposure can cause tires to crack. This is the same reason it’s not recommended to park your all-season tires in the hot sun too often. Keeping your tires, stored or on your vehicle, away from UV rays is crucial to maximizing tire life.
Round & Around Tire Inc. sells all the major tire brands at a discounted price. Whether you need to replace your rims or want to buy new or used tires, we can help with every step from purchase to installation. Our technicians will ensure your tires are balanced and ready to go.