A study by Kwik Fit found that more than one in eight motorists said that the steering on their cars pulled to one side or the other.
That’s a lot of cars trying to drive off the road, and certainly matches with what we see in the workshop here at Thame Cars!
Wheel misalignment is one of the most frequently identified mechanical issues, and although it’s easily remedied it can quickly start to cause problems.
Here’s our Thame Cars guide to wheel misalignment (also known as ‘tracking’).
Instead of pointing forwards, when your wheels are misaligned they turn slightly outwards one way or the other.
Technically it’s not the wheels themselves that are misaligned, but rather the suspension.
There are other potential causes of cars pulling to the side other than tracking, as it could also be due to differences in tyre pressure. That’s a nice easy one to remedy, and another call to arms to check your tyre pressure regularly.
The most common symptom of misaligned wheels is a feeling that your car is pulling to the side as you drive. You may notice this as a slight force required on the steering wheel to keep it straight, or even vibrations in your hands as you drive.
Another common symptom is tyres that wear unevenly or more quickly than expected, so once again, make sure you’re performing regular checks.
General wear and tear can cause wheels to become misaligned over time, but this should be picked up on your annual service. Potholes are a bit of a menace, and accidentally driving over a big one can knock your suspension system enough to throw your wheel alignment out.
Because the alignment is controlled through the suspension, if you modify this to make your car ride lower this will almost certainly affect your wheel alignment.
Apart from a slightly more uncomfortable driving experience, you’ll likely notice it in the more rapid wearing of your tyres. The legal requirement is for 1.6mm tread depth across the middle 2/3 of the tyre, and the additional friction caused by driving with your wheels pointing slightly off centre can quickly wear the edges to below this level.
At Thame Cars we perform an alignment check as part of our regular service, but also whenever we are fitting new tyres. If you’d like to find out more about these services, or suspect that your wheels may be out of alignment please give us a call or visit the website.