A few weeks ago, we got a letter from a first-time car owner, Leaving the Nest in Naples, and she wanted more info about how to take care of her tires. Being on your own for the first time will make a girl realize that most of the things that are necessary to conduct your life every day come with a price tag and need to be cared for. We talked about the importance of rotating your tires and balancing them, and now we want to talk a little about alignment. Along with maintaining the proper tire pressure, these are the biggest factors affecting the life of your tires, and a little maintenance can go a long way.
The term “alignment” is a little confusing because you’d assume that it’s referring to your wheels, but it’s not necessarily: It’s referring to your suspension. As a matter of course, with regular wear, your suspension becomes worn and springs can become stretched out; things like small accidents or even taking a curb can throw finely-calibrated parts of your suspension out of whack and cause your wheels to sit at the wrong angles. Maybe you’re wondering if that’s really a big deal, and I’ll tell you that, yes, over time, it is a big deal. Here’s what happens: Your tires wear unevenly (usually more on the outside), and you’ll have to buy new ones sooner than you’d like. Your braking will be uneven, you’ll put more stress and wear on your suspension system, you’ll use more fuel because your tires will have uneven pressure on the road and create more friction, so your car will have to work harder to move forward, which equals higher fuel costs for you. If you keep your car properly aligned, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money in the end.
You can tell that your alignment is off in a couple of ways: Your tires are wearing unevenly, your car pulls to one side when you’re driving (which makes driving and stopping on icy or wet roads more dangerous), you’re driving straight but your steering wheel isn’t centered, and your steering wheel vibrates. If you’re having any or all of these problems, you should probably get your alignment checked. A good rule of thumb is to have your wheels aligned every 6000 miles or 6 months (whichever comes first). If you hit something large enough to throw it off, you should also have it checked.
Wheels are aligned with some pretty fancy machines these days that link to a computer so that their measurements are very precise. Some RNR locations offer an alignment service, and more and more of our stores will be doing so in the future. For now, call your local RNR location to find out if they offer an alignment service. If you’re looking to have your tires checked out in general, come in and see us. We can rotate and balance your tires and check your tire pressure for you (and if you buy your tires at RNR, we’ll give you FREE lifetime rotation and balance as long as our tires are on your car). Also, at RNR, if you are using our Rent-n-Roll easy payment plan, you can pay for your alignment with no interest with our 120-day program (at participating locations). If your tires have seen the last of their glory days, we can set you up on a plan you can afford to get you back on the road quickly.
We hope this has helped our little bird in Naples. Tires are the most important safety feature on your car, and with just a little maintenance and care, you can extend the life of your tires and save yourself some cash. Be safe!