Tire noise after getting alignment


I went and got an alignment and my tires were rotated and after I started driving it for a little I heard the noise of the tires. There is one stipulation here: I was cut off while driving around 40mph and had to slam on my brakes for about 3 seconds (two days after getting the alignment and don’t remember if the noise was there before - I also hadn’t driven the car fast though), so I’m unsure if this is part of the noise. But, it’s one week later and when I’m driving over ~20+, the noise just gets to be louder.

The best way to explain it is that I can hear what would seem is the tires simply running on the ground and it just gets louder as I drive faster and dimmer as I drive slower. The tires have about 15k on them and are rated for 140k, and I’ve rotated them a few times before.

Can I get any help? I feel like I want to call up the garage and tell them this, but I don’t want to get worked over as I’m still a college student and know basically nothing about cars.

Also, my car is a 2005 Volvo XC70 with around 140k on the odometer.


What type or noise is it? A “running on the ground noise”? Can you describe that a little better? Sizzling bacon? A high pitch roar? Low pitch roar? Growl? Whooshshshsh? Which?

This car has ABS as standard, so you should not have skidded a tire and flat-spotted it. That would make a thump-thump-thump type noise.

Oh, and what is “rated for 140k” 140,000 what? miles? No, not possible, no one makes such a tire, wouldn’t matter for noise. MPH? OK, sure, between H and V speed rated, doesn’t really matter for noise either.

All this may not matter at all. An alignment can create a minor noise that will go away as the tire wears-in to the new alignment and the new position after the rotation. If it gets worse, take it back to the alignment shop, you likely have a problem.

First, it is not uncommon for unrotated tires to develop irregular wear, and the rotation puts those in a less favorable position - ie, one where the driver can more readily hear the noise being generated. Certainly misalignment will make the tires more likely to develop irregular wear in the first place and getting an alignment doesn’t fix the irregular wear in the tires. That’s my best guess as to what is going on here.

So I recommend living with the noise for the time being, hoping that a new wear pattern will make the tires less noisy. If not, then replacing the tires is your only way out of the problem.

I agree with both comments. The tires will “wear-in” to match the alignment eventually.

This is why I strongly recommend against getting an alignment as a routine maintenance. Alignments should only be done when there is a problem. You may have gone from not having a problem to having one.

This also why I do not recommend doing rotations on a too frequent basis. The tires need to stay in one spot long enough to develop an irregular wear pattern in order to spot alignment issues. You do have to rotate tires on an AWD vehicle frequently to protect the center differential (transfer case), but 2wd vehicles should see much fewer rotations.

If you are hearing a noise that developed well after the alignment and it is getting worse, then you should be able to see some abnormal wear on one or more tires by now. You may see a lot of wear to one side of the tire or cupping (aka scalloping, looks like sections of the tread are being scooped out) or feathering. If you see any of this, it is due to misalignment and it was not caused by you hitting the brakes.

Many times he misalignment is caused by an alignment machine that is out of tolerance itself. If that is the case, the shop that did this may never get it right until their machine is calibrated properly. You may end up paying for another alignment at another shop, and then their machine might be out of calibration. Good luck.

I agree with the others but there is nothing wrong with taking it back to the shop again to have them take a look and double check their work. I have had to return before to have an alignment re-done. Once it was so bad the car felt out of control on a curve in the rain. A different shop fixed it but of course needed some work that the first shop failed to recognize.

There are 2 problems with not rotating on a regular basis.

  1. If left in one position long enough, even mildly out of align vehicles will develop irregular tire wear.

  2. Irregular tire wear is hard to erase. Any new wear pattern is placed on top of what is already there and may or may not change the wear pattern in a significant way.

There’s also a problem WITH rotating. It masks conditions that would be detectable for correction via tire wear. For this reason I’ve consciously made the choice not to rotate tires. It also allows me to replace tires in pairs, amortizing operating costs.

Like most things, there are benefits to both practices. To me it’s a matter of understanding the plusses and minuses and making the appropriate choice.

For the OP, I agree with the advice you’ve been given. Moving tires around and doing an alignment both at the same time can cause slight irregular wear to manifest itself as road noise. Let it wear for a while, and if it gets noisier simply have it checked out.

“1) If left in one position long enough, even mildly out of align vehicles will develop irregular tire wear.”

Thats my point, I don’t see it as a problem, I see it as important information to diagnose or discover a problem.

I’m with @CapriRacer