A tyre alignment is pretty common when you take your car in for regular maintenance. It’s important to know when to take your car in for an alignment if you want to keep driving smoothly and safely.
On average, it takes between 30 and 60 minutes to align. Depending on the type of alignment, the model of the car, and the state of the parts, this process can be shorter or longer.
Tire alignment checks can be done at regular intervals or whenever you notice signs that your tyres aren’t lined up right. Let’s look more closely at what alignments are and why some of them take longer than others.
What Is a Tire Alignment?
Tire alignment is the process of making sure that the tyres of a car are even with each other and with the road. The wheels and axles are lined up with each other so that they all move in the same direction.
This is done by making sure the suspension is in the right place and is set up right. It can also be done by adjusting parts around the wheels, such as making sure the steering wheel is perfectly in the middle.
Tire alignments are different from other kinds of car maintenance because they are usually done at a service station by a trained professional. This is because it needs an alignment machine, which is something that most car owners don’t have. It also takes a lot of skill, which they don’t have.
The type of alignment a car needs is completely determined by how its suspension system sends power to the tyres.
The manufacturer of the car has set standards in degrees for how the suspension angles should be used when the tyres are being aligned. This post will talk at length about these types.
Keep reading to find out why wheel alignment is important for your car. You will also find out how to tell if your tyres aren’t balanced.
How Long Do Alignments Take by Type?
How long it takes to align a car depends on how well its parts are in shape and what kind of car it is.
1. Four-Wheel Alignment
It’s thought to be the most thorough type of tyre alignment, so it’s likely what you’ll get when you take your car in for an alignment. It means putting your car’s four wheels in the right place. There are trucks with more than four wheels, like six-wheelers, that need this type of alignment.
Simply put, it means that the car gets a thorough checkup and that both the front and back of the car are aligned. Most of the time, this kind of alignment takes 30 to 60 minutes. But there are things that can make this time last longer than an hour.
Even though a four-wheel alignment is more thorough and worth it, there are other options that are cheaper and take less time.
2. Two-Wheel Alignment
It’s faster and cheaper than the Four-Wheel Alignment. In this type of alignment, only the front wheels are checked and aligned. Customers can choose to have their back wheels adjusted, but this type of adjustment is usually done on the front wheels.
Most of the time, it takes more than 30 minutes to align two wheels. Most of the time is spent setting up and taking down the equipment used to make adjustments. This part of the alignment can take up to 15–20 minutes of the whole time. It also costs 25% less than getting all four wheels aligned.
This type of alignment might not be faster than the four-wheel alignment because of this. Even so, auto shops offer this service because it is faster than other alignments, which means they can work on more cars. They also do alignments on the front two wheels because they don’t have the tools to check the back parts of the car.
3. ‘Toe-n-Go’ Alignments
You can also get a quick adjustment to the toe of the front wheel that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Technicians hate this kind of alignment for many reasons, but mostly because they like to do good work for their customers.
This process is all about fixing the toe, which is what causes the tyres to wear down. During an inspection, this alignment focuses on fixing the toes. Other alignments, on the other hand, look at other parts like the caster, chamber, etc.
Here, some machines will only show the toe adjustment. When this happens, technicians won’t be able to do anything but adjust the toe. But it’s important to remember that in some cars, the toe is sometimes the only thing that can be changed.
You can check with your mechanic to see if your car is one of these. If you don’t know what kind of alignment your car got, you might also want to ask for measurements from before and after. For your peace of mind, the mechanic can tell you what they did.
Wheel Alignment Angles of a Vehicle
These are the angles that should be checked and changed if something doesn’t feel right.
1. Camber Angle
You can tell that the camber angle is wrong if you stand in front of your car and notice that the vertical line has a slight slope.
If your tyres are wearing down in different places, this is the problem. This kind of misalignment can be caused by many things, but the most common ones are a broken ball joint or bearings.
2. Toe Angle
From above the car, you can check the toe angles. Check to see whether the wheels are pointing in or out. If so, they should be changed.
3. Caster Angle
The job of the caster angle is to help the vehicle turn corners, keep the steering balanced, and keep the vehicle stable. From the sides of the vehicle, you can check the caster angle.
When the caster is positive, the wheels are angled toward the driver. A negative caster, on the other hand, means that the wheels point toward the front of the car.
Why Do Some Alignments Take Longer Than Expected
1. Car Model
It will take less time to align a smaller vehicle than a larger one. Most of the time, newer models are easier to align than old ones.
If important parts of a vehicle that are checked during an alignment are hidden behind big suspension parts or frames, it will take longer to finish the alignment.
2. Components’ Condition
If your parts are rusty or stuck, it will take longer to fix them because they are hard to move. This is common for old cars.
Technicians will have to heat the nuts or use WD-40 to loosen parts that are stuck together.
3. Your Technician’s Expertise
An alignment will take less time for a technician with more experience than for one with less. Since the price of an alignment is the same no matter which one you choose, it’s best to choose the one that works faster.
Don’t assume that more experience is always better. Instead, go with a mechanic you trust!
Why Alignments Are Needed
1. To maintain a Smooth Ride
A tyre alignment makes sure that all of the wheels wear out at the same rate by putting the weight on all of the wheels.
This makes the ride smoother because the wheels are balanced and the steering wheel and wheels are moving in the same way.
2. Maintain Efficient And Safe Operation Of Your Car
When the vehicle is properly aligned, it won’t vibrate or shake in ways that aren’t normal.
Most of the time, these signs mean that something is wrong. If you don’t fix the problem, it can get worse and cost more to fix. A car that shakes or vibrates is also not safe to drive.
3. It’s Necessary For Modern Vehicles
Tire alignment is a basic but important part of car maintenance for modern cars. Because they are lighter than cars from the past, vibrations are hard to feel.
They also have tyres with a lower profile to make them look better and work better. So, modern cars don’t have problems because they are aligned regularly.
How to Know When You Need an Alignment
1. Unusual Vibrations
This is the easiest way to tell if your tyres are out of alignment, since you can feel a strange vibration in the steering wheel. When going fast, you may feel vibrations in the front cabinet.
If your front tyres aren’t lined up right, your front seats will feel the vibrations.
Also, if your back tyres aren’t lined up right, you’ll feel the vibrations on your back seats.
2. Difficulty During Steering
When your car isn’t in balance, it will probably be hard to keep your grip on the steering wheel.
It won’t be as easy to turn as it used to be. You are more likely to get into an accident because you can’t respond faster in an emergency because it’s hard for you to steer.
3. Uneven Wear Of Tires
If one set of tyres wears out faster than the others, that means they carry most of the weight.
So, the car is out of balance and needs to have its tyres aligned.
4. More Fuel Consumption
Tires that aren’t lined up right put more pressure on the engine, so it will need more fuel to do the extra work.
This pressure is caused by the resistance that comes from driving on tyres that aren’t balanced.
Average Alignment Cost
Tire alignments are not too expensive if your car doesn’t have any other problems that need to be fixed. For a single alignment, it will cost you $75, and for an extended warranty, it will cost you $200.
But these are just rough estimates, and the actual cost could be different depending on which mechanic you take your car to.
Problems with the balance of the tyres and the suspension can also cause more costs. You will also pay more to get your vehicle aligned if it has a unique shape.
You might want to look closely at your warranty agreement to see if an eventual alignment is covered by your warranty or an extended warranty. Check to see if the shop that fixes your car will give you a limited or lifetime warranty on the work they do.
This can save you a lot of money because alignment is a service that should be done regularly.
What Can Happen if You Drive a Vehicle With Bad Alignment
You think your car might be out of alignment, but you don’t really care, do you? You really should be!
Here are some things that could happen if you keep driving a car that isn’t straight:
- Your tyres and suspension will start to wear out in different places. This makes it more likely that the tyre will blow out, which makes driving dangerous.
- The steering wheel could be loose and pull the car to the side even when driving straight on a flat road. If you are turning and you hear screeching sounds, the brakes may not be working as well as they should or the suspension may be broken.
- It’s possible that the wheels won’t go where the steering wheel tells them to. You’ll have to keep a tight grip on the club to keep driving straight. This can make the driver tired and cause the vehicle to use more gas.
How Often to Get Your Vehicle Aligned?
How often you get your car aligned will depend on a number of things. They include things like the make of your car, how you drive, etc. But mechanics say that a wheel alignment should be done once a year or every 10,000 miles or so.
It’s fine to get your car aligned once every two or three years, but check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
If your car has wider tyres or is put through more stress, like cargo trucks, race cars, etc., it will need to be aligned more often. When you get new tyres, you might want to get them aligned.