What is car alignment?
Car alignments refer to the position of the vehicle’s wheels relative to your car. Proper alignments ensure that tires are parallel to each other, pointing straight ahead and are level with the ground. Without the correct alignment, your tires will resist steering commands and make it difficult to handle your vehicle.
We use cutting-edge wheel alignment technology to make adjust the angles of your vehicle’s wheels. Your car’s tires should be both parallel and perpendicular to the road surface whenever you drive. This positioning extends the life of your tires, improves your gas mileage, ensures safe driving and offers you real peace of mind.
What can cause my car to go out of alignment?
Car alignments can be needed for many reasons. Running over potholes can have a negative effect on your vehicle’s suspension. Bumping something hard — one of those cement light pole protectors in the supermarket parking lot, for instance — can affect car alignments. Even running into a curb with too much force can create an alignment issue.
A driving mishap isn’t always the cause of an alignment problem, though. Sometimes age and use can damage your car’s suspension and, over time, cause your tires to slowly lose their alignment.
How do I know if need a car alignment?
Drift is a dead giveaway that your car is out of alignment. Drift means that your car has a tendency to move towards one side of the road or the other. If you need to rotate the steering wheel at an angle just to keep your car moving straight ahead, you may need to get your car aligned.
Another major sign that drivers need car alignments is irregular tire wear. Take a look at your tires — are the treads wearing unevenly? If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, here are some hints:
- Feel the tire tread. Does the sensation remind you of saw teeth? Saw tooth patterns are a very common sign of an irregular tire wear condition called heel/toe tire wear.
The toe is the angle that your wheel makes with the perpendicular (side-to-side direction of your car; positive toe (toe in) means a front wheel is pointing in towards the engine, while negative toe (toe out) means the wheel is pointing towards the curb.
The saw tooth sensation is created because one side of the tire tread is wearing faster than the other.
- If, when you feel the tire, you notice scuffing across the tread, your tire may be feathering. Feathering is caused by changes in the caster or camber angles.
The caster angle is the angle of the steering axis to the vertical axis that runs through the tire to the ground.
The camber angle is the measurement of the vertical alignment of your car’s wheels in relation to a flat surface.
- If one side of your tire is wearing down faster than the tire as a whole, this is called — appropriately enough — one-sided shoulder wear. This is may also be caused by caster and camber alignment issues.
Steering wheel vibration is another red flag that vehicles need alignments.
Why does car alignment matter to me?
Your tires wear down more quickly when your car is out of alignment. Worn tires cannot displace water as efficiently as tires with proper tread, making your vehicle more susceptible to hydroplaning on wet roads.
It’s also harder to steer when your car is out of alignment, which can be dangerous in any traffic situation. The steering wheel may vibrate and shake, even at low speeds. You find yourself oversteering just to drive straight.
Think you’re saving money by putting off alignments? Replacing worn tires can get expensive! So can the fuel you’ll need to purchase more often because bad alignments ruin your gas mileage.
Why should I go to Virginia Tire and Auto for my car alignment?
Virginia Tire & Auto is Northern Virginia’s leader in wheel and tire alignments for your car. We provide unmatched service to customers at our 12 NoVA Virginia Tire & Auto locations and Main Street Shell in Fairfax. Virginia Tire & Auto is the three-time winner of Northern Virginia Magazine’s #1 Auto Shop in Northern Virginia award, a Washington Business Journal Family Business Award winner and a two-time recipient of Virginia Living Magazine’s Best Auto Repair Ship in Virginia award, among many other honors.
We’re different from many other repair shops. We invest heavily in our employees, tools and facilities to ensure that experts with the right equipment service your vehicle in a clean, friendly environment. Our 12 Virginia Tire & Auto shops are conveniently located throughout Northern Virginia — and Main Street Shell can be found in the heart of Fairfax — and we believe in being friendly, helpful and honest with every customer who comes through our doors.
What automotive brands do you service for car alignments?
- Parts: 6 months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- Labor: 6 months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first.