A lot of work goes into keeping your car functioning properly. When you own a car, you need to keep track of the maintenance schedule for each system—brakes, oil, etc. One item that's often overlooked is the alignment. Given the fact that your car doesn't have a warning light for it, and that a bad alignment doesn't prevent your car from running, it can be easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, while a bad alignment won't stop your car from running, it will stop it from running smoothly—especially on bumpy roads. It will also affect other aspects of the car, such as the tires. Luckily, your car will give you some warning signs when it's in need of an alignment. Here are four signs you should look for.
You Fight Your Steering Wheel
When your car is properly aligned, you won't have to manhandle your steering wheel. However, once your car is out of alignment, your steering wheel will develop a mind of its own. If you're finding yourself fighting with your steering wheel while you drive, you should have your alignment inspected. This is particularly true if you find your car drifting to the right or left while you're trying to drive in a straight line.
Your Tires Wear Unevenly
With a proper alignment, your tires should wear evenly and smoothly. This means that when you look at your tires, you should see the same amount of tread wear—as well as pattern of tread wear—throughout each tire. If your car is out of alignment, you'll notice that your tires are wearing out unevenly. You might notice that the inner tread is wearing out faster than the outer tread. You might also notice that the center of your tires are wearing out faster. This uneven tread wear is a sign that your car needs an alignment.
Your Steering Wheel Is Off-Center
When you're driving in a straight line, your steering wheel should be centered. That means the insignia in the center of your steering wheel should be in the proper position. Look at your steering wheel. If you're driving in a straight line, but the steering wheel is off-center, you need to have your alignment looked at.
You Feel Vibration When You Drive
Under normal driving conditions, you shouldn't feel vibration coming up from the floor of your car, unless you're driving on dirt, gravel, or asphalt that's in disrepair. If you can feel road vibration on your feet—or worse, up through your seat—it's time to schedule an alignment for your car.