When Does My Car Need A Wheel Alignment Service?
Wheel alignment is a crucial part of owning and driving a car. Find the answers to commonly asked questions about vehicle wheel alignment services from Australia’s No.1 Brake, Steering and Suspension specialist
A vehicle wheel alignment is an essential maintenance service which has a significant impact on your vehicle’s handling, tyre wear, fuel economy and overall suspension control. Each vehicle is designed with different wheel alignment parameters so it is important to have a wheel alignment completed by a trained professional such as a Pedders Suspension & Brakes technician.
It is important to have your wheel alignment checked regularly as something as simple as driving through a pothole or hitting a speed bump too quickly can throw out your vehicle’s wheel alignment. A vehicle with a bad wheel alignment will experience a negative impact on vehicle handling, directional stability, tyre life, braking performance and even fuel economy.
In this blog article, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions surrounding wheel alignment services.
What is a Wheel Alignment?
A wheel alignment is the process of measuring and setting the key areas of adjustment within your vehicle’s suspension. Every vehicle comes with recommended parameters that the wheel alignment should fall into in order to meet the manufacturer’s recommended tolerances for the best balance of ride comfort, handling and tyre wear. To meet these recommended parameters we adjust the vehicle’s camber, caster and toe angle. Through every day driving these settings can fall out of sync as your vehicle encounters pot holes, gravel roads, gutters and other obstacles that cause vibrations and knock your wheels out of alignment.
A vehicle whose wheels are out of alignment will suffer from poor braking performance and reduced cornering efficiency which increases load on your tyres and causes increased and abnormal tyre wear. Your vehicle may also struggle to drive in a straight line and pull to one side – this feeling can be made worse when braking.
Once a wheel alignment service has been completed, you can enjoy the peace of mind that all four wheels have good contact with the road and are working together in harmony to provide a safe and sure-footed driving experience.
How much does a car Wheel Alignment cost?
At Pedders Suspension & Brakes we charge $88 for a standard two-wheel alignment and $145 for a standard four-wheel alignment. There are additional charges involved if the customer requires a custom wheel alignment solution for a specific use such as towing, load-carrying or if the vehicle is fitted with modified suspension.
Do new cars need Wheel Alignment?
New cars can need a wheel alignment too. If you encounter a large pot hole, a gravel road or other obstacle that bumps your cars wheel alignment out of its parameters then your new vehicle will need a wheel alignment.
A new vehicle can also require a wheel alignment if you intend to use it for a specific use such as towing or carrying heavy loads. If you fit aftermarket suspension to your new vehicle that raises or lowers the ride height it will also require a wheel alignment after the modifications have been made. Pedders offers wheel alignment services tailored specifically to suit the vehicle its intended use.
How often does a car need a Wheel Alignment?
A wheel alignment service is recommended every six months or 10,000kms. However if you typically travel on bumpy gravel roads or encounter large pot holes your vehicle may require a wheel alignment sooner. It is also a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked before a long drive, such as a road trip, to ensure your vehicle is as safe as possible. A vehicle with a wheel alignment that is out of whack will experience abnormal tyre wear which could lead to a puncture – the last thing you need on a long drive! A perfect wheel alignment will also improve your fuel economy!
Are there any obvious signs that I need a Wheel Alignment?
Checking your tyres is the best place to start – a vehicle with poor wheel alignment will suffer from uneven tyre wear meaning your tyre might have more wear on the inside or outside. Similarly one side of the car might have more tyre wear than the other.
Another tell-tale sign your vehicle needs a wheel alignment is if your vehicle pulls to one side of the road – this sensation can be made worse when braking. A vehicle with a poor wheel alignment may also suffer from ‘tram tracking’ where the vehicle tends to follow the ruts in the road rather than track in a straight line.
Another obvious sign is if your steering wheel off centre and turned slightly left or right when driving in a straight line.
How long does a Wheel Alignment take?
A Pedders wheel alignment service can take up to two hours. We meticulously test the vehicle’s existing wheel alignment with our state of the art wheel alignment equipment, then once we have a report on the wheel alignment condition we can begin to adjust the wheel camber, castor and toe angle to achieve the manufacturer’s recommended settings across all four wheels. Once adjustments have been made we test the wheel alignment again to ensure it is within tolerance.
Alternatively, if your vehicle is used for load carrying, towing, four-wheel driving or performance driving such as track days, we can provide a custom wheel alignment solution to improve your vehicle’s capability in this area while maintaining its everyday safety.
Do front-wheel drive cars need a four Wheel Alignment?
Some front-wheel drive cars do not have any alignment adjustment on the rear axle and do not require a four-wheel alignment, however others do require that all four wheels receive an alignment service. A Pedders technician will be able to tell you whether your front-wheel drive car requires a four-wheel or two-wheel alignment.
Typically front-wheel drive vehicles suffer from increased tyre wear on the front wheels so it is important to have the wheel alignment checked regularly to ensure the tyres wear out evenly.
Do all-wheel drive cars need a four Wheel Alignment?
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles do require a four-wheel alignment. The alignment of a four-wheel drive vehicle can be significantly impacted by towing or carrying heavy loads, resulting in a reduced tyre footprint and un-even tyre wear. This is made worse if you’re constantly carrying a heavy toolbox or have a heavy service body fitted to your ute without a suspension upgrade to handle the additional weight. Pedders offers a specialised wheel alignment service for load carrying vehicles, and vehicles used for towing. It is also common for the alignment to be knocked out of sync when four-wheel driving so it pays to have your wheel alignment checked regularly.
Sedans, hatchbacks and station wagons with all-wheel drive systems also require a four-wheel alignment as they are typically setup from the manufacturer with specific camber, toe angle and castor settings from the factory for both the front and rear axles. Just like a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive car, the alignment is impacted by everyday potholes and other obstacles, as well as the load is put through all-four wheels when turning, braking and accelerating.
For more information on wheel alignments or to book a Pedders Wheel Alignment Service, please contact your nearest store