If you’re someone who owns a vehicle, chances are your relationship with car repairs is probably a love-hate one. On the one hand, you want your vehicle to operate as new for as long as possible, but on the other, remembering what maintenance is needed and when it’s needed is overwhelming.
However, timing is especially important when conducting routine maintenance. Bringing your vehicle to an auto repair shop only to find out you’re three years late for a tire alignment can lead to more expensive repairs and can even damage your vehicle in the long run.
The good news is, once you know how often your vehicle needs a tire alignment, it’s as simple as marking your calendar. We’ll cover everything you need to know about how often tire alignment is needed in this guide. Read on to learn more!
The Short Answer
How often tire alignment is needed for your vehicle depends on the model of your car and your driving habits. However, the general rule is once every year. Some vehicles only require an alignment every 2 to 3 years because of the driver’s habits. They may not drive their vehicle as frequently. Either way, getting a tire alignment once a year is the safest bet.
Alternatively, many mechanics recommend scheduling an alignment every 6,000 miles. To keep your vehicle in tip-top shape, simply schedule your alignment at whichever of these options occurs first.
How Much Should an Alignment Cost?
How much does tire alignment cost? This depends on the type of vehicle, but front-end alignments can usually cost between $65 and $100. Some repair shops also offer lifetime alignment packages as a way to be more economical. These also vary slightly depending on the shop, but a safe estimate is around $200.
How Long Does a Tire Alignment Take?
How long does it take to align tires? This will depend on how busy your auto repair shop is, but the process should only take an average of 1 hour. If you haven’t scheduled an alignment in a while, it may take longer if your mechanic finds additional damage or other issues.
What Exactly is a Tire Alignment?
So, what exactly does it mean to get a tire alignment? It’s exactly what it sounds like: ensuring your vehicle’s tires are aligned with each other as well as the surface of the road. To accomplish this, the suspension system is brought to its proper position and configuration.
This process can also include adjusting other components of your vehicle’s suspension, which is why it’s so important for this process to be done by an experienced mechanic using an alignment machine. Trying to do a repair like this at home can be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst.
How Do I Know When My Car Needs an Alignment?
There are a few things to keep a lookout for in between professional tire alignments. Doing so will make sure your car is in tip-top shape. These can include:
- Uneven wear on your tires. If your front and rear tires have different wear patterns, it could be an indication your wheels are not properly aligned with each other.
- Crooked steering wheel. Sometimes, a crooked alignment can show itself through a crooked steering wheel. This means that your suspension is slightly off, which forces your tires to not be aligned with each other.
- Vibrating steering wheel. This can happen when tires are pulling in opposite directions due to misaligned wheels.
- Slight pulling. This may be difficult to notice since it can be subtle. A good way to check if you have this issue is to go to an empty parking lot that has a flat surface. If you drive your vehicle slowly with your hands off the wheel, and you drift to one side, this means that you need a tire alignment.
- Sharp pulling in a certain direction. If left unchecked, this pulling can get worse and lead to sharp pulling. This can often be attributed to low air in your tires, but if it still happens after your tires are inflated, it is usually an indication you need to schedule an alignment.
The Bottom Line
So, how often does your vehicle need a tire alignment? It depends on your type of car and driving habits. However, a good rule of thumb is to schedule a service every 6,000 miles or every year — whichever comes first.