11 Warning Signs of Bad Wheel Alignment and Why you should fix them

The alignment of your wheels plays a pivotal role in controlling and maintaining the stability of your vehicle, particularly when making turns or navigating curvaceous routes. Unfortunately, a combination of imperfect driving habits, environmental conditions, and the passage of time can instigate wheel misalignment. Grasping the signs of bad wheel alignment and understanding the urgency of rectification is not only crucial for ensuring your safety on the road but also offers substantial long-term financial benefits.

11 Warning Signs of Bad Wheel Alignment and Why you should fix them

Causative Factors Behind Wheel Misalignment

Several elements, from individual driving habits and unforeseen road hazards to the natural deterioration of vehicle parts, can contribute to wheel misalignment. Below are four prevalent causes that could lead to this issue:

Low Tire Pressure: Tires lacking the appropriate pressure tend to pull your vehicle sideways. Inadequate PSI (Pound per Square Inch) alters the height of your vehicle’s suspension system, leading to unfavorable tire alignment.

Forceful Impact: Encountering curbs, potholes, or other potential road obstacles that cause severe impact can disrupt your car’s wheel alignment.

Degraded Parts: Every vehicle component experiences wear and tear, with older cars bearing the brunt of this inevitability. Worn suspension and wheel bearings may cause the tires to tilt, changing the angle of their position, subsequently tampering with the vehicle’s alignment.

Delayed Re-alignment: A common reason for misaligned wheels is simply the lapse of the due time for a re-alignment. Ideally, your tires should undergo re-alignment at least annually to maintain optimal function.

Warning Signals: Misaligned Wheels

Preserving wheel alignment is instrumental for upholding your vehicle’s control as you navigate various routes. Any signs of misalignment warrant immediate attention. To assist you in recognizing these indicators, here are seven common warning signs:

Car Veers to One Side: A well-aligned vehicle should maintain a straight path, even without the guiding hand on the steering wheel. If your vehicle exhibits a noticeable pull towards a particular direction on a straight road, it’s likely you have an alignment issue. The frequency and intensity of this swerving directly relate to the severity of the misalignment. Ignoring this problem may lead to increasingly difficult vehicle control. It’s recommended to seek a mechanic’s expertise for realignment as soon as this issue becomes apparent.

Crooked Steering Wheel: Noticing your steering wheel’s position as you travel on a straight, level road is another effective way to check for misalignment. Under normal conditions, your steering wheel should stay centered while driving. If it leans slightly off-center in any direction, your vehicle likely requires a steering wheel realignment to improve vehicle control.

Slack or Loose Steering Wheel: Loose steering or “free play” refers to the scenario where your steering overextends in response to your turns, leading to a lack of precise control. Loose steering presents a significant risk and indicates an urgent need for vehicle realignment.

Vibrating Steering Wheel: A vibration-free steering wheel is an indicator of proper alignment and balanced tires. If your steering wheel vibrates during your drive, your vehicle likely suffers from misalignment or unbalanced tires. However, vibrations can also emanate from issues other than tire alignment. For accurate diagnosis, it’s best to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect your vehicle to mitigate further damage.

Tire Squeals: Hearing a squealing noise from your tires during turns or acceleration may signal misaligned wheels, leading to uneven tire wear. Squealing could also originate from worn brake pads. Either way, abnormal noises are a clear sign that your vehicle needs inspection and potential servicing.

Unequal Tire Wear: Monitoring your tires’ tread wear can provide clues about your wheel alignment. Discrepancies in the wear levels of your tires could point to misalignment. A tread depth meter provides an accurate tool for measuring your tires’ tread depth.

Steering Hesitation During Turns: Modern vehicles are equipped with power steering, significantly facilitating turning. Yet, misalignment could instigate steering hesitations, necessitating greater force during turns. Difficulty in turning the wheels could signal issues with the steering system or misalignment. Consultation with a mechanic can pinpoint and rectify these issues, ensuring a comfortable driving experience.

Difficulty in Handling: If you’re finding it increasingly challenging to handle your vehicle, especially while turning or driving at high speeds, it might be a sign of wheel misalignment. If your car doesn’t respond as effectively as it should when you’re steering, it’s time to get it checked.

Rapid Tire Wear: When your tires start to wear out faster than they should, it’s often due to wheel misalignment. Misaligned wheels can cause irregular tire wear, leading to a shorter lifespan for your tires and resulting in more frequent tire replacements.

Vehicle Shaking: While a shaky car could be a result of various issues, misaligned wheels are a common culprit. If your vehicle shakes or feels unstable at high speeds, misalignment might be the issue. This is particularly true if the shaking is coming from one specific part of the car, such as the front or the back.

Crooked Steering Wheel Even When Driving Straight: If your steering wheel remains crooked even when you’re driving straight, your wheels are probably misaligned. The steering wheel should naturally center itself when driving straight. If it doesn’t, it’s a sign that your vehicle needs to be realigned.

Urgency of Rectifying Misaligned Wheels

Many drivers overlook or undervalue the symptoms of poor alignment, sometimes due to perceived lack of necessity or reluctance to incur the expense of realignment. However, alignment issues don’t resolve independently, and neglecting them often results in further degradation of your tires and vehicle.

Poor wheel alignment can lead to increased fuel consumption, as your vehicle has to work harder than usual. This misalignment can also reduce your tire’s lifespan due to uneven and accelerated tread wear.

Maintaining Wheel Alignment: Key Tips

Preserving proper wheel alignment is vital for ensuring road safety and minimizing potential repair costs. Here are some useful tips for maintaining optimal wheel alignment:

*Regularly check your tire pressure and keep it at the manufacturer’s recommended PSI.
*Ensure your tires are in good condition.
*Adhere to a routine schedule for rotating your tires.
*Adopt careful driving habits to avoid road hazards.


Vigilance in detecting the warning signs of wheel misalignment and seeking prompt correction can prevent further damage to your vehicle. Safe driving and maintaining properly inflated tires are crucial steps towards preserving wheel alignment. Don’t let short-term savings obscure the long-term costs: continued operation of a vehicle with misaligned wheels can lead to expensive repairs and increased fuel consumption. It’s an unfortunate reality that neglecting vehicle maintenance often results in greater expense in the long run.

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