Alignment is the process of adjusting vehicle suspension components to bring the wheels and tires into specific angles, facilitating optimal vehicle handling, tire wear, and performance.
Expect to pay $70-$100 for an alignment with a local tire shop or mechanic, but depending on where you go, it can be quite a bit more. For example, an alignment service for a luxury car at a dealership can cost up to $200.
Typically about an hour. While it's sometimes considered a "drop in" service, many shops suggest scheduling in advance. It's common for a shop to have just one alignment rack/system, and so if you have to take a place in line that will significantly prolong your service visit.
Signs of a vehicle out of alignment include:
Under normal driving conditions, an alignment once or twice per year is recommended. However, this recommendation is very fluid. If you drive on particularly rough roads, or have a habit of contacting curbs (those pesky things come out of nowhere), then you should probably be on a first-name basis with your alignment professional.
Keep in mind that there’s no guaranteed length of time that a vehicle will stay in alignment. If you hit a New York City-sized pothole leaving the shop, the alignment could be undone right then.
Not necessarily. But if it's been a while since your last alignment, the mounting of new tires can be a good opportunity to address alignment – especially if your old, dismounted tires are showing signs of uneven wear. Getting an alignment will help ensure proper tire wear and full tire life for your new tires.
No. Balancing involves correcting weight imbalances within the wheel and tire. Small weights are placed inside the barrel of the wheel to create even weight distribution around the wheel.
Alignment and balancing are sometimes confused because the symptoms of an out-of-balance wheel/tire, and the symptoms of a vehicle that's out of alignment can be similar – for example, steering wheel chatter.
If the alignment professional doesn’t take the lead, we recommend that you ask them to review the alignment printout with you.
Every vehicle has recommended alignment specifications, which are referenced by your shop at the time of the alignment. Following the alignment service, a report should be provided that indicates alignment specifications (camber, toe, caster) before and after. If your vehicle was out of alignment, the service person can explain how the values were out of specification beforehand, and within specification afterward. Often this is shown with red "out-of-spec" values changing to green "in-spec" values on the alignment report.
No, it’s actually the opposite – a vehicle that's out of alignment will cause uneven tire wear. Check the wear across the contact patch (width) of the tires. If the inside or outside of any tires are wearing at a faster rate, that's a sign of potential alignment issues.
This depends on your vehicle, and whether there are rear adjustments available. Not every vehicle has rear adjustability. If front and rear alignment adjustments are possible, then you'll want a four wheel alignment. With many shops, the price difference between front and four-wheel alignment services is not significant.
Along with regular tire rotation, keeping your vehicle aligned and within specification will provide proper vehicle handling, and optimum tire wear and longevity. Your local TireBuyer installer can perform vehicle alignments – use the link below to find one near you.