Incorrect wheel alignment can cause all sorts of problems for you behind the wheel. A correctly aligned car will feel surefooted and stable to drive, whereas an incorrect wheel alignment can cause all manner of issues from excessive tire wear to being dangerous to drive.
Here are the 5 most common problems caused by incorrect wheel alignment…
01 Increased tire wear
Unsurprisingly, if your wheels aren’t pointing in the same direction as each other, you will experience accelerated tire wear.
The most common culprit is excessive toe (either in or out) causing uneven wear across the tire, but too much negative camber can also cause tires to wear out faster on the inner edges.
02 Reduced performance
To ensure the optimum performance from your car, you will need the maximum contact patch between the tire and the road.
Incorrect wheel alignment will reduce the contact patch between your tires and the road, affecting braking and cornering performance.
Also, extra effort is required to effectively push the tires across the road if the front wheels aren’t parallel. Imagine you are rolling the wheel and tire down a line on the road – it’s quite easy and the wheel will roll freely.
Now imagine turning that wheel at a 45 degree angle and trying to roll along the same line; much more effort is required to push the wheel along the line, as it naturally wants to go off at a different angle – the same is true if a car’s toe in/out settings are incorrect.
03 Pulling to one side
Another common problem with wheel alignment, specifically the toe settings, results in the car wanting to pull to one side of the road.
If the front wheels are toeing out (pointing away from each other) the car will naturally want to pull to one side, because when one wheel is in the dead ahead position, the other wheel is trying to turn a corner.
04 Increased fuel consumption
If the wheels are misaligned and require extra effort to turn them, naturally the amount of fuel the car uses is also going to increase.
With the wheels aligned correctly none of the car’s power is wasted overcoming misalignment issues, and therefore fuel economy is improved.
At worst, misalignment can cause the car to feel very nervous and twitchy, especially at speed.
To avoid any of these issues, simply ensure your car’s wheel alignment is set correctly. Most garages can do this for a small fee (around £30 for front wheels only, or around £60-70 for full four-wheel alignment), and the adjustments they make will ensure your wheels are perfectly aligned. It really is worth the investment as it will result in a more stable, surefooted car, with improved fuel economy, and reduced tire wear.