How often do I need to get an alignment
That’s going to depend on how many curbs and potholes you hit.
Road conditions and your driving habits will determine this. I have only had wheel alignments done after replacing worn front suspension components like struts and tie rod ends.
Some cars have been known to need an alignment from the get-go.
It’s not like car manufacturers do this at the end of the assembly line.
Sometimes with miles accrued the suspension settles in and an alignment may be called for.
Many manufacturers will allow one warranty alignment after the car has been driven some miles, usually 500 or so, after the car settles, as @ok4450 points out.
If the steering wheel is not straight or the car wanders on the highway or the car pulls left or right on a perfectly flat road, it needs an alignment.
After getting my new Outback in 2011, I noticed that it seemed to need a lot of steering correction. Back to the dealership it went, and it turned out that the right rear wheel was pretty far out of alignment. The service manager was of the opinion that the delivery driver probably whacked it on the curb when backing it off of the carrier. Post-alignment–perfect tracking.
Since then, I have had the wheels aligned 2 or 3 times over the past 10 years, when I noticed the symptoms of bad alignment noted by Mustangman.
There’s a Sonic drive-in that I stop at frequently for my sugar/caffeine addiction. The exit at the end of the drive through is a bit sharp and awkward. I swear that 20% of the cars that exit there run into that curb.
I often wonder how many of those people end up with alignment issues and when questioned by the alignment tech do not honestly remember hitting anything.