At times, one might encounter inevitable disruptions or inconveniences while driving. Though it is less likely to happen with brand-new automotive, specific issues might appear after a few months.
Likewise, many mechanical problems pop up that compromise the drivability of the vehicle on the road. However, there could be various reasons behind that, of which the most prominent one is improper wheel alignment.
If you wonder how long does a wheel alignment takes, go through the following information.
- 1 What is wheel alignment?
- 2 How long does a wheel alignment take?
- 3 What is the significance of wheel alignment?
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
What is wheel alignment?
“Tire or wheel alignment refers to the proper alignment of the vehicle’s wheels in sync with each other and the road surface. The process involves correct positioning with the configuration of the suspension system. Besides, the wheel alignment requires adjustment of the particular components to achieve smooth drivability. It works on squaring the wheels and axles of the vehicle to make them move in the same direction.”
Apart from that, wheel alignment also customizes the suspension angles that determine the movement and positioning of the tire.
Likewise, it also ensures that the placement of the steering wheel is in the center. Indeed, some vehicle maintenance jobs do not require professional assistance.
Yet, you need to take your vehicle to an expert mechanic to get the wheel alignment done.
How long does a wheel alignment take?
Figuring out it before pursuing the same is very important. A majority of people still wonder whether wheel alignment is a lengthy or a short process.
Generally, it takes around an hour to complete wheel alignment under the standard cases for two-wheelers and four-wheelers.
On the other hand, if there is extreme damage or wear and tear, it will take more time than usual.
In such conditions, various components such as the suspension system, track rod, steering bushing, etc., need a replacement, which is quite time-consuming.
Moreover, one cannot skip the wheel alignment as it defines the vehicle’s drivability, safety, comfort, performance, and longevity.
What is the significance of wheel alignment?
When there is a misalignment in the wheels, the vehicle’s handling efficiency will deteriorate. Consequently, it will pull continually in a single direction to inhibit the vehicle’s ability to move straightly or turn around.
Thus it will jeopardize the safety of the driver and passengers. Besides, it will cause discomfort while driving too. If there is a lack of proper alignment between the wheels, it may cause irregular tire wear.
As a result, one will have to replace the tires more frequently than usual.
Moreover, the tire misalignment leads to flat spots and wheel blowouts because of the extra tension on the tires. Aside from that, the misaligned tires can damage the suspension system and the wheel rims too.
Eventually, it will adversely affect the long-lastingness and performance of the vehicle.
Therefore, one should never miss out on wheel alignment as it plays a crucial role in keeping the car in good condition.
Role of Suspension System in Wheel Alignment
“The alignment type that a vehicle requires depends upon the suspension system and its approach for power distribution to the wheels. Likewise, a four-wheel alignment is suitable for the car with an all-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive. Contrarily, front-end alignment and thrust-angle alignment are apt for the vehicle utilizing front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, respectively.”
Ideal Interval for Wheel Alignment
After becoming aware of how long a wheel alignment takes, the next thing is to determine the interval for the same.
Precisely, the gap for a tire alignment will depend on the vehicle type, driving routine, and certain other pivotal factors.
However, it is recommendable to get a wheel alignment done once every two to three years. You can also look for the advisable interval mentioned in the owner’s manual.
Alternatively, you can take the vehicle to the authorized service center or a reliable auto repair shop for a wheel alignment checkup.
In particular, the alignment lasts for at least one to two years of driving. If the vehicle does not drift to the lone side and runs comfortably on the road, there is no need for annual realignment.
Similarly, the wheel alignment will follow specific intervals even if the vehicle tires are evenly worn.
“An important thing to consider is that the need for frequent tire alignment arises due to some particular circumstances only. Usually, the performance-oriented vehicles or the ones with wider wheels require alignment more often. Above all, get the wheels aligned every time on installing brand-new tires on the car.”
Indications for Wheel Alignment
Knowing about it is not enough! One has to identify specific symptoms in the vehicle that call for a wheel alignment.
Apart from a tire alignment checkup, the following are the signs that depict the immediate requirement of wheel alignment.
Harsh Pull-in Single Direction
If the vehicle pulls harshly in one direction, it can be a symptom of under-inflated tires. Nevertheless, if the same continues to happen even after inflating the tires to the accurate pressure, wheel alignment is the only solution.
Vibration on Steering Wheel
The unbalanced or misaligned tires can cause vibration on the steering wheel, which can be pretty inconvenient while driving. In such a situation, the tires will drag in the opposite directions.
You can fix this issue by getting a wheel alignment done at the earliest.
Usually, the minor pulling is not much noticeable in comparison to the harsh one. Yet, it still shows that there is a misalignment of wheels.
You can quickly check whether the vehicle has a slight drag or not. For that, go for an empty parking lot that has a level surface.
Drive the car slowly in the straight lane and take out the hands from the steering wheel. If the car drags to one side, it requires a tire alignment.
Uneven or Rough Tire Wear
If the tires get worn out evenly, it is not a cause of concern as it is normal. Contrary to this, uneven tire wear is a sign that the wheels are not aligned properly.
Examine the front tires and check if the wear pattern is identical or not. Repeat the same process on the rear tires of the car too.
If the wear pattern is different on each tire, there is a misalignment of wheels.
Warped Steering Wheel
Undeniably, the steering wheel is one of the essential components of a vehicle. When it goes wrong, the safety and drivability tend to worsen.
Owing to it, pay attention to the steering wheel while driving. Sometimes, the user subconsciously drives with the asymmetrical steering wheel that happens due to wheel misalignment.
Therefore, if you experience the steering wheel’s position being off-the-wall, realign the wheels in due time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is tire balancing?
Tire balancing involves compensating for the weight imbalance in the wheels. Though it is different from tire alignment, it is done in conjunction with the same.
Notably, two types of tire imbalances need rectification, such as static or single plane and dynamic or dual plane. The static balance looks after the balance on a single plane, i.e., the vertical movement.
Conversely, the dynamic imbalance restores the balance in two planes, namely lateral and vertical movement. A specialized balancing machine is used to even out the imbalance.
Each tire is positioned on the central bore of the balancing machine, and it twirls the tire at optimal speed. The mechanic will mount the tires on the spot-on rims and customize the pressure to maximum inflation.
Ultimately, it helps in measuring the wheel combination imbalance. Further, it signifies the suitable amount of weight to be added and specific areas for balancing the tires.
Similar to wheel alignment, the tire balancing also prevents untimely treat wear. One must align and balance the tires after every 5,000-6,000 miles of use.
Can an accident or a collision affect the wheel alignment?
“If you encounter a minor accident or collide with a stationary object, it jars the vehicle. As a consequence, there will be chances of knocking the car out of proper alignment. In such circumstances, it is recommendable to get the wheels examined by the mechanic to check for any damages. Moreover, if the accident is major, you must get the wheels aligned before resuming driving.”
What are camber, toe, and caster?
Camber: A camber refers to an external or inward angle of the tire from the frontal part of the vehicle. Excessive inwardness is known as positive camber, whereas an exterior tilt signifies a positive camber.
Both of these conditions show the improper alignment that needs to be fixed.
Toe: Typically, the toe alignment is the maximum limit to which the tires move outward or inward. If the position of the tires’ angle is inward or outwards, it will need adjustments.
Caster: A caster is the steering axis’s angle, which helps balance the steering, thus bringing more stability.
In the positive and negative caster, the steering axis will incline towards the drive and frontal part of the vehicle, respectively.
If you are concerning how long does a wheel alignment take, the information mentioned above will help you out. Besides, you will also get to know about the symptoms of poor wheel alignment.
However, keep checking the vehicle’s functioning and do not overlook any unusual disruption while driving.
After all, smooth drivability filled with comfort and safety is all one needs for an exceptional driving experience.