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Wheel alignment with new tires

I requested quotes for a set of new tires, and one says we check alignment free and charge $69.00 if needed, while the dealer says alignment is necessary with new tires and costs $110.00. Who should I go with?

If there is no indication of an alignment problem, then new tyres will not cause a problem.  However it is a good idea to make sure the alignment is good because if it is not, you could be replacing those tyres in a vary short time. 

The tyre store is likely good on this one. A good tyre store will do at least a quick check on the alignment to keep you from coming back with a problem due to alignment. Often when someone is buying new tyres it is due to poor alignment. $69.00 is not going to give you a top line comprehensive alignment, but generally you don’t need more unless there is a real problem.

I don’t know if the tyre store is good, but they are not an area where we see a lot of problems. If possible choose a tyre store that you can get recommendations for from someone you personally know.

Good Luck

The first one is correct, check alignment, fix IF needed. Probably won’t be needed.


Ditto again.

I just want to add that the car’s steering will tend to pull to one side or the other if the alignment is off. All things being equal; equal front tire wear, tire pressure, same make and type - if you feel like you are constantly applying pressure to the steering wheel in either direction, the alignment needs to be corrected along with your tire purchase.
In my experience, misalignment has always caused the car to pull to the right. No idea why. Anyone know why that is?

I have to respectfully disagree that the alignment being off means the car will automatically pull one way or the other. It may or may not and it’s quite possible to have a vehicle in which the alignment if off and yet it will exhibit no noticeable symptoms at all.

As to why a car may pull to the right that’s generally due (assuming the suspension is not worn) to road crown and the possibility of the camber and/or caster being off; especially when the RF is compared to the LF. Normally the RF should have a bit more negative camber and a bit more positive caster to offset road crown.

In reality, you often find both sides about the same and many may consider it “close enough” so therefore it may never get adjusted.
With many vehicles caster and camber is not adjustable. If it’s way off in cases like this then it means that something is worn, bent, etc. If it’s off only a small amount this could be due to the suspension settling over time.

I thought it was primarily uneven caster settings that would cause your car to pull to one side or the other. And incorrect caster is the least likely setting to cause tire wear.

Incorrect toe-in tends to not cause pulling, but definitely wears tires.
Incorrect camber definitely causes tire wear, but doesn’t always cause pulling.

An alignment check and correction if needed is a good idea when you replace tires. Some cars hold alignment well over time, and others get knocked off at the first pothole. Since a poorly aligned car might not have symptoms, other than uneven tire wear, an alignment is a good idea.

The dealer charge is high, so the tire dealer should be capable of handling this OK.

I did mean to say that there will be a noticeable pull even on a flat, straight road. I agree that an alignment might be needed even if the car seems to maintain a straight course even on such a perfect road, or better yet, a parking lot, with no hands on the wheel. But will it wear the tires out faster, especially if the tires are rotated regularly?

An alignment person could ask you a few questions such as:

  1. Does your car pull left or right on a flat road on a calm day?
  2. Is your steering wheel centered visually when you are going in a straight line on a flat road on a calm day?
  3. What is your tire rotation history?
  4. Do you turn corners fast?
  5. Do you recall hitting any parking curbs hard or driving through any very deep potholes?
  6. Was your tire life as expected for your vehicle?
  7. Have you been reasonably careful about maintaining correct tire pressures?

Along with the answers, the man could also look at your tire treads and in some cases make a judgment as to whether or not you should have your front and rear wheel alignment checked.