Having a proper wheel alignment is one of the crucial things you should do if you own a car. It lets you keep the tires in good condition and get the most life out. But that might leave you with a question, how long does a tire alignment take? Read to know.
What is a tire alignment?
Tire alignment refers to adjusting the car tire placement in relation to one another and the road. The process involves adjusting and repositioning various parts of the suspension system to their correct settings. While there are some simple maintenance tasks you can do at home, a tire alignment should only be handled by a professional.
Tire alignments ensure that all vehicle wheels and axles point in the same direction. To do this, you’ll need to center the steering wheel and adjust the suspension angles that affect tire movement and placement. The vehicle’s manufacturer provides the degree specifications for a proper tire alignment.
What causes wheel misalignment?
- Frequent off-roading
- Irresponsible driving
- Normal wear and tear
- Collison with a concrete parking stall
What are the advantages of getting a wheel alignment?
- More stable and manageable car on the road.
- Extension to tire’s lifespan.
- Durable suspension and steering components.
- Improved car fuel efficiency
- Safer driving experience.
How long does a tire alignment take?
Tire alignments typically take 30-60 minutes. However, this time frame can vary as it depends on several factors. That includes the type of alignment, the type of vehicle, the condition of the vehicle’s components, and the technician’s experience.
Different types of tire alignment
Wheel alignments can vary greatly depending on the vehicle’s suspension. Such as:
2-wheel alignment focuses on aligning your front wheel axle. An hour should be sufficient and a reasonable timeframe for how long a front-end alignment would take.
A thrust alignment is the best option if your vehicle has a solid rear axle. It takes a front-end and thrust alignment to ensure if your wheel’s alignment. A thrust alignment hardly takes an hour.
This type of wheel alignment is typically performed on vehicles with four wheels. It combines elements from the front end and thrust alignments to accommodate independent suspensions. A four-wheel alignment can also take an hour.
What are the factors that affect wheel alignment time?
Wheel alignment does not have to be a time-consuming process. It takes an hour normally to get the wheels aligned. However, some factors can influence this timeframe. Depending on the overall condition of your wheel, some may take longer than usual because repairs or replacement of parts may be required. The following are some factors that can influence how long a wheel alignment may take:
Excessive wear and tear – Extensive damage to your wheels may necessitate replacing parts or purchasing new ones.
Suspension system damage – Suspension system damage is a far more serious issue than damaged wheels. Extensive damage to the suspension system can add to the timeframe.
Steering bush damages – If you damage your steering bushing, it may affect how well your car can handle vibrations. Consider having this critical component repaired before attempting wheel alignments on your vehicle.
Track rod damages – Damaged track rods can have a negative impact on your steering. Replacing these, on the other hand, is dependent on how many tracks rods you damage. If both are damaged, you’re in for a long wait.
Why is tire alignment necessary?
Tire alignment ensures that your steering and handling are completely optimized. Misaligned wheels can result in unpredictable car movements. This compromises your driving experience and poses a risk to you and everyone on the road.
Furthermore, misaligned wheels can reduce the value of your car if you plan to sell it. As with any vehicle damage, your car’s resale value will suffer significantly, so keeping tabs on the wheel alignment will be beneficial.
How often should you get your car tires aligned?
Wheel alignment intervals can vary from one vehicle to the next and from one driver to the next. Most mechanics advise having wheel alignments done every two to three years. However, the best course of action is to adhere to the interval specified in your vehicle’s user guide.
Generally, annual visits to a service center or auto repair shop for a tire alignment checkup are recommended. After a year or two on the road, the wheel alignment of even the most well-maintained vehicle will likely be off slightly. However, annual realignment may not be mandatory if your vehicle is stable on the road, doesn’t pull to one side, and has evenly worn tires.
Tire alignment may be needed more frequently in certain conditions. Generally, the wheels of a vehicle with wider tires or a performance-oriented vehicle will need frequent alignment checkups. In addition, whenever you get new tires on your car, you should also take it in for a wheel alignment.
How much does a tire alignment cost?
The tire alignment cost varies depending on the car model and the complexity of the suspension system. It will also depend on whether any other adjustments or repairs are necessary before performing the wheel alignment process.
The cost also depends on how recent the wheel alignment machine is. The more recent the machine is, the more accurate the alignment will be. Aligning two wheels differs from aligning four wheels. It all depends on the vehicle’s suspension system. In general, the cost of aligning four wheels is should to be around $200.
How to know if your car’s wheels need an alignment?
There are some indicators that your car requires a wheel alignment.
- When you drive straight, the car bends to the right or left.
- Hearing a loud noise while driving fast.
- Vibration in the steering wheel.
- When taking a corner, the vehicle will move in the opposite direction.
Is it safe to drive with misaligned wheels?
Driving a car with poor to no alignment is never a good idea. The wheels became very weak at some points, and the car would bend to the right or left, making it difficult to drive.
Wheel alignment is an important maintenance task that you cannot afford to neglect because it significantly impacts your vehicle’s performance, ride comfort, safety, and lifespan. Therefore, keeping tabs on your car’s wheel alignment is always better for a better driving experience!
A seasoned insurance expert and car enthusiast passionate about car care, Vanessa Norris brings a sea of knowledge to the automotive world. Her blogs are a trusted resource for drivers seeking expert tips and techniques on keeping their vehicles looking and running their best. When not writing or detailing cars, Vanessa Norris enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring new roads, and discovering the latest automotive trends.