There’s something wrong with my car and I think it’s the alignment. Here’s why: My steering wheel shakes like a dog at a fireworks show, and my car to drifts to one side of the road like it’s falling asleep (picture a head falling over—get it?). Here’s what I need to know: Am I right? What do I do about it? And how does this happen?
Out of Line
Dear Out of Line,
I haven’t seen your car, so I can’t say for sure, but it sounds like an alignment problem. Usually, there are some common symptoms to look for when your car is out of alignment: that shaky steering wheel; the drifting to the side that you mentioned; but also, if you’re driving straight but your steering wheel isn’t centered, you may have an alignment problem. Another telltale sign will be on your tires. When a car’s alignment is out of whack, the tires will wear unevenly, and usually you’ll see that they are wearing out more quickly on the outer edges. This will affect the overall life of your tires, so you don’t just want to wait around on the problem. Getting your alignment fixed is a lot less expensive than a set of new tires.
Interestingly, when your alignment is off, it’s not so much a wheel issue as it is a suspension problem. Over time, parts of your car’s suspension become worn, springs stretch out, etc. and things get a little off. Bumping a curb, hitting a big pothole, or a fender bender can throw of all of those highly-calibrated parts of your suspension too and make the wheels go all wonky and sit at the wrong angles. When you take your car in to have the alignment fixed, the proper angles will be restored, your wheels will sit straight and you’ll be steering smoothly again. When you’re riding straight, your tires will wear evenly and you’ll even get better gas mileage because your tires will be all lined up with the road, decreasing resistance. And what did you have to do to get all of these benefits? Just recognize the signs and take it to people in the know for a realignment. So, save your tires, save some gas and save some money. Get your alignment checked out and fixed up. Your car will drive better and you’ll have a lot less to worry about in the end. If you’ve pushed it too far and your tires need replacing, you know who to call. RNR will hook you up with a new set and a payment plan you can afford.