Wheel alignment is simply the process of making sure, both rear and front tires move in the same direction. If they are not, then it would cause uneven wear of your tires, besides you feeling the car moving sideways on its on (especially on highways).
It basically makes the car pull towards one direction so steering in the opposite direction becomes difficult. So its better get them aligned/checked.
If all is good it would simply take you 10 minutes. (Given that they put the sensors on your wheels and find only minor misalignment).
But on average it takes almost 50 minutes to 1 hour, as there are other factors involved as well.
This includes the car’s health and the type of workshop facility your going in. (Do they have the updated equipment and efficient auto-mechanics?)
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What factors would increase the Alignment Time?
If the components of suspension system including, brush and track rod are faulty or have wearied out it may take even longer to get your wheels perfectly aligned as these parts need to be repaired or replaced. Other than this is the process itself.
The process of setting up the car for alignment.
- (10 minutes) First of all, the wheel alignment machine is programmed based on the vehicle’s measurements to ensure perfect alignment. It is done to certify that wheels are precisely aligned.
- (10 minutes) Second step is to inspect the suspension system. All the parts that need repair or replacement are managed accordingly and if there are any loose components, they are tightened. All of this is done to endorse perfect alignment.
- (10 minutes) Third step is to test the whole vehicle to diagnose any problems that may exist in it. All the problems are fixed, and vehicle is brought to its standard working condition.
- (10 minutes) And 5th is fixing up the angles.
Side Note: (If you have Extra Time) you can also get your balanced as well. (Its about wheels carrying equal weight). It takes about 30 minutes.
Would you save time if you have a 2 wheel drive instead of 4?
Maybe, just 10 minutes.
Both types of car take the same process of setting up so same time would take here.
But in case of a 4WD, they would have to put the 3D sensors on all 4 wheels, instead of just 2 on the 2WD. So you may save some time there.
Note: A 2WD only has
So is it worth your time?
In a word, yes. A misalignment of wheels cause uneven tire wear. And given the cost of a decent set of tires, its advisable to not miss out on it.
And besides, considering the fact that they cause handling issues, off center steering wheel and cause vibration to it, its better to not compromise your comfort for an hour of your time.
Cost of Wheel Alignment
The cost is somewhat low when compared to other places of car’s maintenance and repair.
It normally costs between 75 to 200 dollars depending on your vehicle and the type of extended warranty you choose in a deal.
Sometimes warranties can cover wheel alignment, so make sure to check if you’re eligible for a free alignment.
Furthermore, for cars that drive in rough and tough conditions, it is recommended to get a lifetime warranty for wheel alignment which can help you to reduce your expenses.
Also Read: How much does a tire rotation cost?
How Often Should You Get the Alignment done?
There isn’t any specific duration for wheel alignment, however you should get your wheels aligned every two or three years or whenever you feel that your wheels are going out of sync.
More factors like driving habits, type of vehicle and road conditions also influence the interval of wheel alignment.
Additionally, wheel alignment is a must when you install new tires.
Key Take Away Point:
- Wheel alignment means same angle of tires with the surface its on.
- Wheel alignment normally takes about an hour, but it may take longer depending on the type of vehicle and other conditions.
- Wheel alignment is necessary because it not only increases the repair and maintenance cost of the vehicle by affecting other components but also causes a safety hazard for passengers.
- Major sign that indicate you may require a wheel alignment include minor pulling of the car to one side and off-center of steering wheel.
- Normally, wheel alignment is required every two or three years.