There’s a common misconception that changing a car’s tires affects its wheel alignment. Part of that probably comes from how mechanics recommend getting a wheel alignment when changing to a new set of times. But does changing a tire affect its alignment?
No, changing your tires does not affect wheel alignment directly. Any misalignment issues you have were likely there before, caused by hitting a curb or pothole or by some other reason. Still, it’s wise to do a wheel alignment when changing to a new set of tires to correct any existing alignment problems and maximize the new tires’ lifespans.
This guide will help you understand everything you need to know about wheel alignments. You’ll discover what the process is, what makes it necessary, and how you can benefit from it.
What Are Wheel Alignments?
Firstly, it’s crucial to get on the same page about what wheel alignments or re-alignments are and how they benefit a car.
A wheel alignment is just that: it’s a realignment of all four wheels on a car to ensure that each is pointing in the right direction. Even if they look straight from afar, one or more of them could be angled wrongly.
That might not sound like a big deal at first. However, a tire that’s even just a little bit misaligned will wear out unevenly. That can lead to all sorts of tire-related problems, like your steering wheel being off-center or the car pulling to one side when you’re steering.
A wheel alignment can prevent all of those problems.
The process involves checking and adjusting each wheel to be pointed at the most optimal angles. That’s done by adjusting parts of the steering system, including:
Wheel alignments are necessary to maintain your car’s overall condition, but you don’t have to do them often. A wheel alignment is only necessary every 2-3 years.
A mechanic will also recommend that you do it after your car suffers tire damage or you change to a new set of tires.
When Are Wheel Alignments Needed?
As you read earlier, wheel alignments are only needed after 2-3 years or when you change to a new set of tires.
However, there are other circumstances when wheel alignments will become necessary, like:
- Hitting curb or pothole: One of the most common triggers for needing a wheel alignment is when people drive over large potholes or hit curbs. Unfortunately, the hard impact can cause your wheels to become misaligned, and you’ll have to correct them.
- Off road driving: Vehicles that go off-road often will also require wheel alignments more often than usual. That’s because the uneven terrain and obstacles you drive over, and any rocks or hard objects you hit with your tires will lead to misalignment.
- Suspension parts replacement: Your wheel’s alignment is controlled by several components in your car’s suspension system. Naturally, if you replace those parts for other reasons, you’ll have to readjust them to ensure that your wheels are aligned correctly.
- Road collision: Lastly, getting into a car accident is also another reason you’ll need to get a wheel alignment.
- New tires: You might also need to get a wheel alignment when changing your car tires. However, as you’ll read below, it’s not for the reasons you think.
The best way to know whether or not you need a wheel alignment is to ask your mechanic or automotive technician. They will do a thorough inspection of your tires as well as the steering and suspension systems.
Doing so will identify any problems with your wheel’s alignments and identify how much of a correction is needed.
Then, with your permission, they can perform the alignment and complete the task quickly.
Do You Need A Wheel Alignment When Changing Tires?
No, you don’t necessarily need a wheel alignment when changing to a new set of tires. That’s because changing your car tires does not affect the wheel alignments at all.
Remember: the alignment of your car’s wheels is determined by several suspension system components, including the toe and camber, among others.
So, why would your mechanic or other friends suggest getting a wheel alignment simultaneously with a new set of wheels?
Well, there are two reasons for that, which are:
- Maximize tire lifespans: Firstly, getting a wheel alignment is a smart thing to do when installing new tires. Ensuring that your wheels are correctly aligned will simultaneously ensure that your new tires wear out evenly and last as long as possible. In other words, doing so maximizes your new tires’ lifespans.
- Correct existing problems: Secondly, getting the wheel alignment done while switching to a new set of tires will correct any existing alignment problems. After driving with the old tires for many years, there’s a good chance the car has become somewhat misaligned. While those old tires are removed to make way for the new ones, it’s a perfect opportunity to adjust the suspension components.
As you can see, getting a wheel alignment done when installing new tires is an excellent idea. That’s true, even though changing your tires doesn’t directly affect the condition of your current wheel alignment.
What Are The Benefits Of Wheel Alignments?
Whether you do it when changing your tires or sometime later on, a wheel alignment offers plenty of different benefits. Plus, they don’t even cost much to hire a mechanic to get it done.
Here are the benefits you can expect from getting your wheels aligned:
- Better fuel efficiency: Misaligned wheels will cause your car to waste some energy on friction. Keeping them correctly aligned ensures better energy usage, which leads to better fuel efficiency in the long run.
- Maximized ride comfort: Aligned wheels will also ensure that you and your passengers are comfortable with minimal vibrations and noise coming from underneath.
- Better steering: When the wheels are aligned, your car becomes much more responsive to your input. That’s because they’ll have better traction, gripping the road more effectively at all times.
- Tires last longer: A wheel alignment maximizes your tire’s lifespan, and you’ve likely heard that many times before. That happens because a correctly aligned wheel touches the road evenly, so it also wears out evenly in the long run. Conversely, a misaligned wheel might wear out more on one side than the other.
- Avoid repairs: Lastly, a wheel alignment ensures that wear and weight are evenly distributed throughout the suspension system. That way, you won’t have to spend your hard-earned money on repairs due to a component failing prematurely.
Can You Perform A Wheel Alignment Yourself?
Yes, you can perform a wheel alignment yourself as a DIY task in your garage. However, that’s only practical if you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to get the job done correctly.
If you’re unsure about anything, it’s always best to let an automotive professional do the job for you.
To summarize everything that was explored above, remember that changing a tire does not affect wheel alignment directly. However, it’s wise to realign your wheels when you’re changing a tire to fix any existing problems and maximize your new tires’ lifespans. Regardless of whether or not you change your tires, you should still get an alignment done every 2-3 years. That way, you’ll keep your tires, suspension, and steering system in optimal condition while maximizing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.