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Should I Fix Alignment Issues?

My 2004 Hyundai Elantra will pull to the right unless I hold about 10-15 degrees of left on the steering wheel. This is slightly annoying, but is it worth paying money to have fixed?

Is there anything about this that is going to cost me more money if I just ignore it?

Every mile that you drive with the alignment this far “off” is probably putting about 5 miles of uneven wear on the affected tires. By continuing to drive the car this way, you are drastically shortening the tread life of the tires. Additionally, on slippery surfaces, your handling will be dangerously affected.

Have a professional closely inspect all the suspension components BEFORE an alignment.

You may have something (tierod, steering rack, etc) worn to the point where it MAY come apart and result in a collision on your own or possibly causing someone else to have a collision.

I recommend having the alignment checked, and corrected if necessary. Incorrect wheel alignment increases tire wear dramatically, and can affect the safe handling of the vehicle.

Check the alignment and the tires. If both are ok, switch the front tires side to side. My 93 Caprice pulled badly to the right before and after 2 alignments. After switching the front tires side to side, the car tracked straight. The car continued to track straight for the next 6.5 years and 35k miles when the tires were replaced due to age.

Note: VDCdriver made an excellent suggestion (as usual) about checking the Owner’s manual. The Caprice is rear wheel drive and may be more tolerant of a side to side switch than the Sonota (FWD). Also, I checked with my trusted mechanic before doing the switch.

Ed B.

Some car manufacturers warn that tires should not be switched from side to side.
I would suggest that the OP check his/her Owner’s Manual on this topic before deciding to switch tires from side to side.

I’m not sure how you can ignore it? What happened did you whack the curb, hit a huge pothole? Something could be bent or broken in there and I’d want to know what.

If it just needs an alignment and you ignore it. First, you are wasting a bunch of gas. Your MPG is affected because the car is drifting sideways and your pressure on the wheel keeps it going straight. This means more pressure on the gas and over time less mpg. Second, the tires are fighting each other. Instead of just rolling along, one what to go in one direction the others are headed somewhere else. This means rubber will come off the tire(s) quicker and at odd angles. One, two, or perhaps all 4 tires will wear out early and will need replacing in 20K miles rather than 50K miles. Third, you car’s handling is awful. In an emergency you really don’t know what it is going to do, oversteer or understeer, perhaps no steer.

Saving the costs of the alignment is going to costs you a bunch later on. Not to mention your car really isn’t safe.

Tire swapping from side to side is for diagnostic purposes only. The point is to determine if the problem is the tires or the alignment.

If the swap results in a pull in the other direction, then it’s the tires.

If the swap results in no change, then it’s the alignment.

If the swap causes the pull to disappear, then it’s both the tires and the alignment.

In any of those cases, it doesn’t matter if the tires have an arrow on the side or the vehicle manufacturer says not to rotate side to side, this swap is just to determine where the problem is. Once the source has been located - and fixed - then everything needs to be put back according to the tire and / or car manufacturer.

Have you even bothered to invest in a tire pressure gauge to see if there is a tire going down?

If the tire pressure is correct then yes it could cost you money; either with fast and irregularly wearing tires, poor handling leading to an accident, or a varying degree of aggravation depending on which of those 2 scenarios fits.

Alignment every 12k and tire pressure check each month.

You have a serious problem and it should be fixed.