Driving a Car with Bad Alignment: Is It Safe?

 

Most people are aware of the need for general car maintenance. It’s essential to take care of the basics, like regular oil changes and checking battery terminals for corrosion. But, getting an alignment is just as important. 

 

Many think it’s simply a minor irritation when your alignment starts to get off. The truth is, driving a car with bad alignment can quickly turn into costly repairs.

 

What Does It Feel Like to Drive with Bad Alignment?

 

When your car is out of alignment, it can affect its performance in several ways, including:

 

  • Drifting from Center: Instead of remaining centered, your steering wheel may shift one way or the other—and may take extra effort to correct the other way.
  • Pulling to One Side: It isn’t solely about your car being unable to remain centered. When out of alignment, it can pull to one direction and require constant correction. This often worsens over time.
  • Vibrating or Shaking: You may notice a steady shaking pattern that changes at different speeds, and may get worse as your speed increases.

Can Hitting a Pothole Mess Up Alignment

 

Hitting potholes can lead to misalignment and cause multiple issues. Whether it’s hitting multiple smaller potholes over time or one really bad pothole, both can result in damage to your suspension, struts, and other portions of your car’s undercarriage.  

 

Can Hitting a Curb Mess Up Alignment?

 

Hitting a curb can lead to serious wheel alignment issues. It can alter the angle your wheels contact the road, throw off suspension and steering, harm your struts, and directly damage your tires and wheels.

 

You don’t have to hit a curb at a high rate of speed to damage your alignment, so if you notice your steering wheel pulling more to one side or another after accidentally hitting a curb, it’s time to get your alignment checked right away.

 

How Long Can You Drive with Bad Alignment?

 

You can probably get away with driving your car with minimal alignment problems for a little while. But, is it a good idea?

 

Bad alignment can cause more than just minor annoyances. It can lead to having to replace your tires early, decrease your fuel economy, and other more costly repairs. 

 

The actual length of time differs from one car to the next, but generally speaking, you want to get an alignment every 5,000 to 8,000 miles under normal conditions. But if you’ve had a fender bender, hit a pothole or a curb recently, or noticed a change in steering at all, you don’t want to delay getting it checked out immediately.

 

How Serious Is an Alignment Problem?

 

Not dealing with an alignment issue quickly can have serious implications. 

 

At first, general alignment issues tend to be more of an annoyance than a serious concern. But, the more pronounced an alignment issue becomes, the more likely it will lead to severe problems. Those problems get expensive quickly, and they could put you in real danger on the road.

 

What Happens If You Don’t Get an Alignment

 

Postponing a proper alignment can result in multiple problems—some more severe than others. For example: 

 

  • Tires Wear Unevenly: It’s almost guaranteed that delaying your alignment will mean uneven and excessive wear on one side of your tires or the other. This reduces the life of your tires, while diminishing the quality of your ride. You may feel the car shake, and could feel extra vibration from the steering wheel—often increasing as you accelerate.
  • Pulls to One Side: It may become increasingly difficult to keep your car’s steering centered. You’ll feel the weight of your car pulling to the right or left.
  • Risks Suspension: Components critical to your car’s suspension are placed at serious risk for damage or failure. This includes parts like your tie rods, control arms, and ball joints. If these fail, you could lose control of your car.

Meineke Tire Alignment Services

 

Get the most out of your car’s performance by dropping by one of our convenient locations. You’ll enjoy a smoother ride, easier steering, and get the most from your car’s fuel efficiency.

 

Trust the professionals at Meineke for expert tire alignment services, and schedule your appointment today!

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