How often should a wheel alignment be done?


#1

What is the rule of thumb or recommended mileage your vehicle should have to have a wheel alignment done? Is it based on miles or for example should it be done every one or two years?

I own front wheel drive(Honda Civic) and four wheel drive (Jeep Patriot).


#2

I do it every few years when getting tires. Usually something is out of spec by then.

Opinions will probably vary.


#3

I’d say it’s probably based more on driving style and road conditions more than anything else. I haven’t had my car a year yet, but the way the roads are around here, an alignment might be a good birthday present for it.


#4

If you drive on good roads and never bump into curbs, you could go a very long time. We had the CV joints replaced on our Nissan 5 years ago. That’s the fist time ever it had ben done, 7 years afyer buying the car. Tire wear is normal so far.

As other say, it depends on the car and the driving environment.


#5

It’s cheap insurance. I have mine done once a year. When I do I’m not experiencing a problem…but about every other time the alignment is out of spec…and many times WAY out of spec. A bad alignment can cause premature failure of other front-end components.


#6

I generally have it done when I have some reason to suspect a problem or before putting on new tyres.


#7

There is no single, simple answer to this. Some cars hold alignment very well. Then some vehicles alignment seems to drift without cause, some are easily knocked out of alignment, and some drivers routinely whack into curbs and potholes.

With a car that hold alignment well (the Civic) I’d recommend an alignment of all 4 wheels when you put on new tires. Otherwise just check the tires for wear and if something looks “off” then get an alignment.

With a car that doesn’t hold alignment well (I suspect the Patriot may land in this category) I’d consider an alignment every 20K miles or 2 years. If it holds alignment OK then I’d lengthen the interval. Again, check tire wear and do as needed by tire wear.


#8

I have it performed when I replace tires. I buy top tier tires and don’t want them ruined (for life) due to a poor alignment. The cost at tire replacement is typically well discounted as a service when you get the whole package.


#9

There was this 87 Tempo that ate tie rod ends. I used to have the alignment done every two years. Other cars may go longer without “needing” anything. The 87 Mazda pickup truck I had didn’t seem to require a lot of alignments because it was built so much tougher than a Tempo.

I recommend an alignment/check every two years for cars with automatic transmissions because they can be stressed to the point of failure by front wheels that try to point toward one another wnen you step on the gas. It’s tough to push a car when the wheels don’t agree on which way the car should go.


#10

My rule of thumb is minimum at new tire installation. Checking the wear patterns in between new tire purchase and looking for signs, such as the inside of the tire wearing faster than the outside of the tire would also indicate an alignment is needed to preserve maximum tire life.


#11

Keep an eye on your tires, they will tell you when you need an alignment. Check them at every oil change and check the pressure at least that often.

As long as the car handles and steers properly and the tires wear evenly, don’t mess with the alignment.


#12

About every 40-50k miles and sooner if there is any reason to suspect something may be bent or out of alignment. One good pothole or railroad track can do it.

This also offers the opportunity for a good alignment tech to inspect suspension components and recommend any repairs that may be needed as wear in any suspension part will not allow the alignment to be correct.

Alignment problems can exist with no noticeable tire wear at all (caster) or problems may become noticeable after the fact (camber/toe) when someone has it pointed out to them that those new tires that have only been on there a year or so are wearing funny.


#13

As was said, there is no rule as usage and vehicles vary. Ask an few alignment shops which brands need less alignment. You need to ask more than one shop as opinions there, as here, will vary. Some, in the interest of keeping work coming in may shade the truth. Doing this will also give you professionals’ views of alignment frequency need.

If you care to get into the topic more, ask your alignment person to tell you which settings were adjusted each time you get an alignment or if nothing was needed. That may give you insight as to what to do in the future if you do not hit curbs or very deep potholes with the brakes heavily applied.

I do front and rear wheel alignments at home with a home-made trammel bar, a carpenter’s level, a couple of jacks, a long straight piece of lumber, a length of string, common tools and a level spot on our garage floor. I have found that modern GM cars hold wheel alignments well. My early 60s GM car had a weak front end. I normally do nothing unless the steering pulls on a flat road which is almost never or tires begin to show odd wear which also is almost never. You can take an occasional look at your tires too and inspect the tread depth with an inexpensive tread depth gauge to be on the lookout for odd tread wear.