Wheel alignments and tire rotations might not rank as the most essential car maintenance tasks to many drivers. However, they’re just as crucial as other servicing tasks like changing your oil or replacing your brake pads. But why are they so important?
Wheel alignments and tire rotations share many common benefits despite having a slightly different focuses. They maximize your tires’ lifespans by ensuring they wear out evenly. Besides that, they also benefit your suspension system by ensuring they last a long time and do not suffer excessive impact damage. Overall, these tasks maximize your car’s performance on the road.
As you read this guide, you’ll learn why aligning your wheels and rotating your tires are so important to do regularly. On top of that, you’ll also explore the 4 reasons why these tasks benefit you and make it worth the time and effort to do.
Why Are Wheel Alignment And Tire Rotation Important?
Wheel alignments and tire rotations are two separate maintenance tasks you must do periodically. Despite involving a slight overlap of components, each task focuses on different things and therefore comes with distinct reasons why you must do them.
An alignment is done to ensure that your wheels are perfectly aligned to maximize handling and comfort. On top of that, a well-aligned wheel also benefits the tire that’s wrapped around it.
Meanwhile, rotating your tires ensures that the rubber tires wear out evenly, thereby maximizing their lifespans. In addition, doing so ensures that each tire can perform well and benefit your vehicle’s handling as well.
You won’t have to worry about their positions when you rotate your tires until the next rotation is due.
However, some situations can undo your wheel alignment and force you to perform the task once more. For example, the impact of hitting a pothole or curb can cause the affected wheel to become misaligned.
The same will also happen if your car gets into a collision or if the suspension components for a particular wheel wear out.
What Are The Benefits Of Wheel Alignment And Tire Rotation?
Knowing that you must perform wheel alignments and tire rotations isn’t enough. Instead, you should understand how it benefits you, your vehicle, and also your wallet in the long run.
Here are the 4 benefits you’ll enjoy by performing regular wheel alignments and tire rotations:
1. Allows For Even Wear
Wheel alignments and tire rotations both offer one crucial benefit, and that is to allow your tires to wear out evenly.
As you might already know, vehicle tires sustain the entire weight of the vehicle as they get pressed down onto the road underneath. In addition to that, they also take plenty of abuse thanks to the friction and heat generated as they turn.
When your wheels are well-aligned and regularly rotated, each one will experience an equal amount of wear spread throughout the tire’s surface. As a result, you can enjoy using the same wheel for much longer, thereby maximizing its lifespan.
That is different from having a tire’s surface with wear concentrated only on one narrow section.
The excessive and concentrated wear will make the tire unsafe to use and force you to replace the tire sooner than expected, despite how the rest of the tire is still in good condition.
2. Maximizes Suspension Components’ Lifespans
The effects of keeping your wheels well-aligned and tires regularly rotated don’t just benefit the tire’s surface. On the contrary, the benefits run deep through the wheel and even the suspension components.
As your tire wears evenly, you can rest assured that the surface will remain in excellent condition for much longer. That, combined with the correct alignment of the wheel inside, ensures that none of your suspension components experience too much stress.
Remember: the tire wraps around the wheel, and the wheel is connected to the car via the suspension system. That system not only secures the wheel to the car but also keeps it well-aligned and absorbs shocks from the ground underneath.
In other words, anything that maximizes the lifespans of your tires and wheels also does the same for the suspension components connected to them.
3. Optimizes Performance
People tend to focus mainly on the engine and other engine bay components when discussing a car’s performance. That’s understandable, as a car’s torque and power are generated by those parts.
However, people often forget that the wheels and tires are where that output gets transferred to the ground underneath. Because of that, wheel alignments and tire rotations play critical roles in maximizing a car’s performance.
As you read earlier, wheel alignments and tire rotations ensure your tires wear out evenly. Another side effect is that those tires can maintain traction on the road for much longer, maximizing handling, acceleration, and even braking.
Simultaneously, optimal alignment ensures that your suspension system keeps those tires pressed against the ground at the perfect angles. That, too, keeps the tires gripping the road and enhances the car’s overall handling.
Without regular alignment and rotation, a lot of the power and torque generated by the engine gets wasted because the tires can’t transmit them to the road efficiently.
4. Minimizes Damage To Suspension
Earlier, you read that wheel alignment and tire rotations help to maximize the lifespans of your suspension components. But more importantly, they also help minimize any damage those components might experience.
Driving over potholes, running over large rocks, and hitting curbs are just some incredibly damaging situations for your suspension system. Not only will that throw your wheels out of alignment, but they’ll also send enough force upwards to crack or damage the components.
Naturally, suspension systems are designed to sustain some damage from the roads driven. However, that’s only possible if the wheel is aligned and in excellent condition to sustain some impacts.
When a tire has uneven wear, and the wheel is not aligned correctly, that can force some suspension components to experience too much damage. Whereas a well-aligned wheel and tire can help to spread the force out a little.
Can You Drive Without Correct Alignment And Regular Rotation?
No, you shouldn’t drive your car if its wheels are misaligned and the tires have uneven wear from never being rotated. The car will still run, but doing so for an extended period will result in problems like:
- The car pulls to one side despite driving straight
- The vehicle shakes and vibrates excessively
- Your driving experience becomes bumpier and a lot less comfortable
These problems might not seem like such a big deal initially, but you must never take them lightly. They can subtly affect your driving by making it difficult to steer, leading to rapid fatigue and an uncomfortable driving experience.
Maintaining a vehicle requires performing many different servicing tasks. But, when it comes to the bottom part of your car, wheel alignments and tire rotations are undoubtedly some of the most important.
These tasks benefit you by ensuring even tire wear, maximizing comfort, and lengthening the lifespan of all components involved. Not only does that guarantee a comfortable driving experience, but it also prevents you from spending money on premature repairs and parts replacements. You can continue driving with misaligned wheels and never-rotated tires. However, you’ll sacrifice comfort and the durability of your components in the long run.