Getting a good tire alignment is the best thing you can do for yourself and your car tire. Sure, sitting at the car shop for close to an hour is never on your schedule of things to do any day. But it would help if you took the time out to good tire alignment.
It would prevent your car from veering off slightly while you drive. And you won’t need to replace your current car tire after using it for a short period. The gist is; bad tire alignment is terrible for the health of your car tire. It also puts you at risk, maybe, an accident.Generally, getting a good tire alignment ensures you have a safe trip. Now that you know why it’s crucial to get a good tire alignment from a professional, we’ll answer the budding question how long does an alignment take? Curious much? Keep reading to unravel this truth.
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What is Tire Alignment? (How Do you Know you Need an Alignment?)
If you’ve ever felt your car vibrate on the road while driving or noticed that it tends to veer off in one direction, then you should consider getting a tire alignment. Also called wheel alignment, Tire alignment is the title given to the process of adjusting your car’s suspension.
Although it’s called tire alignment, you’re not exactly trying to adjust your car tire or the wheels. Instead, it’s the connecting system between your vehicle and your tire that would be adjusted. This system is called car’s suspension.
While tire alignment is crucial to the health of your tire and the quality of your driving, you shouldn’t attempt to go for a tire alignment if your car is fine.
There are certain signs to watch out for that secretly alert you when it’s time to take your car to the car repair shop for a tire alignment. They include:
- Car veering, drifting or pulling in one direction on the road when you drive.
- Your tires get lousy from squealing.
- Your tire tread starts to wear out quickly or unevenly.
- When you try to accelerate, your steering wheel responds with a vibration.
- When you drive, you notice that the steering wheels do not stay at the center. They tend to tilt to the side.
Consider taking your car for tire alignment after running into a pothole or curb or car accidents if you own a car. The reason? They mess with your tire alignment.
How Long Does an Alignment Take?
While you think getting a tire alignment would eat into your day’s task, it actually won’t. Let me tell you why! It only takes an hour to get your tires (two wheels or four) aligned. That’s kind of fast, right? Absolutely. However, there’s a clause. You see, while getting an alignment only takes an hour, the one-hour time frame doesn’t include the waiting time.
In essence, depending on when you reached out to a car repair shop to get an alignment, you’d need to wait for a while before you are attended to. Also, if you took longer than usual before getting a tire alignment, the car might have been damaged in the process. In this case, you would need to do more than tire alignment at the car repair shop. Hence, it is advisable to go for tire alignment as often as possible, especially if you drive on roads with potholes, etc.
In reality, when you consider other unforeseen circumstances that might spring up when trying to get an alignment, it’s safe to say that you might spend more than an hour trying to get it.
The best thing to do is leave your car at the repair shop and have the repair guys call you once they’ve fixed the tire alignment issue. That is a better option than ignoring the signs of a bad alignment, thereby making it worse.
Related: The Way to Inflate Tires
How often should you get a tire alignment?
Frankly, there’s no rule of thumb for how often you should get your alignment. Depending on the type of car you drive, you might need to come in for an alignment every two to three years. But it would help if you went for an alignment when you start to notice the signs.
However, some cars are more sensitive and require that you often visit a car repair shop to get an alignment. For instance, if your car is a sports car or is designed with wider tires than regular cars, make it your responsibility to often go for an alignment. Let the repair shop be the judge of whether you need an alignment or not when you visit.
If you drive a regular car and have to deal with bumping into potholes and other road obstacles that lead you to turn the wheels suddenly to avoid something or someone forcefully, then you should get an alignment. Nevertheless, be observant enough to monitor your car for signs that alert you that your vehicle needs to undergo tire alignment surgery.
Basic Process of Wheel Alignment
The basic wheel adjustment process is relatively easy if you’re quite handy. So, if you think you’re down for the task of realigning your car tire, here’s a pretty basic process for you.
- Step One: You need to decide the kind of alignment your vehicle needs. Does it need the thrust alignment? Front-end alignment? Or the four-wheel alignment? All three alignments work best in different situations. To be certain of the alignment your vehicle needs, it would be best to consult a professional mechanic.
- Step Two: Take the car for a test drive to confirm that it is genuinely misaligned. Naturally, a mechanic won’t just begin to correct the misalignment of your vehicle without first test driving the car to be sure that it’s misaligned.
- Step Three: Lift the car in the air using a lifting mechanism. Once the vehicle is in the air, go underneath to inspect the suspension, tires, and wheels.
- Step Four: After the inspection phase, change the damaged parts that need to be changed. Then, adjust the tire pressure using the prescribed PSI.
- Step Five: Connect your vehicle to the alignment machine. It would correct the misalignment such that the suspension is readjusted to the original angle set by the manufacturer.
- Step Six: Once you’ve fitted the suspension back to the angles created by the manufacturer, check if the steering wheel is properly centered. If it sits at the center, it’s a sure sign that the alignment was properly done. On the other side, if the steering wheel is not centered, you might need to repeat step five.
- Step Seven: Test drive your vehicle while checking to see if it still veers off to one direction or holds on to the misalignment signs. Only proceed to this step once you see that the misalignment has been corrected.
Viola! You’ve completed your tire alignment process.
Now that you know how long it takes to get an alignment and get a wheel alignment, we hope you won’t stall when those misalignment signs start to rear its head. Getting a vehicle alignment, especially when you’re often the protagonist in a rough, bumpy ride, should be a top priority. It improves the quality of your car and tires. Although it might take longer than you expected, correcting your vehicle misalignment is crucial.
Simon graduated with a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Degree. He has over 20 years of servicing experience in both Japanese and German car dealerships. He now acts as a freelance mechanic’s instructor for local schools.