What is wheel alignment?

Contrary to popular belief, wheel alignment doesn’t have much to do with your tires or wheels themselves, although wheels are usually inspected, filled, and balanced along with wheel alignment procedures to get the best results. Wheel alignment is, in basic terms, the proper alignment of various parts of the wheel and to the suspension components they’re connected to. This process keeps all four wheels pointing straight ahead, dead center, to promote optimal functioning for several areas of your vehicle. Wheel alignment is not one of those maintenance tasks you should overlook, as many drivers do so and regret it later. Proper wheel alignment certainly has an effect on how your car handles and how different components wear, so it’s important to know a little more about how wheel alignment can affect your car and what you can do to prevent misaligned wheels in the future.

The different components wheel alignment affects

As we said before, wheel alignment directly affects certain facets of your car’s performance. These are the most commonly-reported effects that wheel alignment has on any given car:

  • Fuel economy
  • Tire wear patterns
  • Suspension function

Believe it or not, your wheel alignment can take a serious toll on your fuel economy if it’s not adequately set. The surface area that your wheels take up on the asphalt is altered slightly when wheel alignment is off, which makes tires wear in odd patterns. This increases the amount of friction between the tires and the road, which burns more fuel in the long run. Furthermore, you’ll need to replace your tires much sooner than anticipated if your alignment is off due to uneven wear patterns and increased risk of blowouts or flats at high speeds. Lastly, wheel alignment has an effect on your suspension’s function, as turning and going over bumps can lead to part failure in various suspension components.

How to detect improper wheel alignment

It’s important to remain aware of how your car is performing daily, that way you’re able to detect when wheel alignment is off or your car is in need of servicing of some kind. The following list is a helpful guide for determining if your wheels are out of alignment:

  • Car drifting or pulling to one side
  • The position of the emblem on the steering wheel is off-center
  • Vibration in the steering wheel
  • Gradually decreased fuel economy
  • Uneven tire wear patterns

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in your own vehicle, it is critical to bring it to your automotive specialist right away for diagnosis and treatment. Letting wheel alignment issues become prolonged can cause further damage to your tires, wheels, and suspension, but it also compromises your vehicle’s performance.

How you can keep your wheels properly aligned

The best thing you can do for your car is to stay on top of maintenance tasks. Usually wheel alignment can be checked fairly regularly, as going over small bumps, hitting curbs, or being involved in an accident—no matter how mild—can lead to wheel alignment issues that require correcting as soon as possible. Here are a few other things you can do to make sure your car’s wheels are properly aligned at all times:

  • Hire a reputable automotive shop in your area
  • Follow your recommended maintenance procedures
  • Upon noticing any of the aforementioned symptoms, bring your car in for an inspection
  • Remain vigilant about how your car performs daily
  • Don’t skip tire rotations and wheel balancing – they have an affect on alignment too!


Here at Dell’s Service Center, we provide a range of services for our clients from the areas of Green Bay, Manitowoc, and Sturgeon Bay, WI. From simple maintenance tasks like oil changes to more intense repair work, we take every project that comes through our doors as seriously as the next, as we take immense pride in our profession and skill. Wheel alignment is often overlooked by drivers, which can lead to significant performance problems that can spiral out of control and lead to expensive repairs. With a preventive approach to auto care, we perform specialty services for European imports such as Volvo, Jaguar, Volkswagen, MINI, and Land Rover, but we’ve found that the most important aspect of auto care is ongoing maintenance. If you’d like to schedule an inspection or appointment with us, please call one of our specialists right away.

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