Staying aligned!

Tyre on the road

If a recent survey of more than 2,000 motorists is representative of British motorists, then almost one million drivers are currently experiencing wheel alignment issues and significant steering pull.
An ICM Research survey of 2,024 adults claim as many as one in eight motorists feel a pulling to one side or the other when driving.

At Britannia, we don’t doubt this for a second, and are fixing more and more cars with such problems. Proper wheel alignment is an essential factor in ensuring that your vehicle’s ride is safe and smooth. And if the roads in your area are not in the greatest condition, it can affect alignment sooner than you think.

There are a number of possible reasons why cars pull to one side. Steering pull can result from a simple difference in pressure between the left and right tyres, or it can come from mismatched tyres with different rates of wear.

More serious issues include wheels not running at the angles set out in the manufacturer’s specifications, a situation that can arise through ever gradual wear or by impact, such as from striking a pothole - an occurrence experienced by 40 per cent of those surveyed. Depending on the severity of the impact, hitting a pothole can lead to tyre damage, balancing weights falling off rims, a loss of tyre pressure or even damage to suspension components.

Across the Britannia network, we are continually investing in our wheel alignment machinery to both diagnose and resolve alignment issues within minutes.

In this blog, we aim to highlight the importance of this issue, and the implications of driving a car ‘on the pull.’

What causes wheels to go out of alignment?
Hitting a pothole is the most obvious reason, but it doesn’t always have to be a knock or prang. Wheels can simply stray as you drive over rough surfaces and speed bumps.

Why is wheel ‘misalignment’ such a problem?
In simple terms, your tyres will wear out a whole lot faster. In the best case you’re looking at increased fuel costs.

Then there’s the worst case scenario, which is a deterioration in handling. Whilst this may seem like a minor issue at first, this could lead to real problems if you need to make emergency manoeuvres at speed.

It’s not uncommon for car owners to simply suffer the problems associated with poor alignment – leading to an expensive repair bill down the line.

What are the signs?
Steering: When you’re driving down the road the logo and spokes of the steering wheel are not straight is a sign of poor alignment. For most of the time out on the road your steering wheel should be sitting in the centre. You may even find that you’re holding the wheel in a position that would normally see the car going off the road – any variation from the norm is a sure sign you need wheel alignment.

ting or Pulling: When you’re travelling down a straight, level road can you feel your vehicle veering in one direction? If you have to keep a slight pressure on the steering wheel to keep it going straight, then you know you have an alignment problem. Vibrating Steering Wheel: If your vehicle’s steering wheel is vibrating the chances are that this is due to an improper alignment causing the wheels to pull against one another. In the worst case scenarios this can make the entire car shake.

Steering Wheel Doesn’t Centralise: After you complete a turn, the steering wheel should naturally start to return to the straight position on its own as you keep driving around. You can test this in a similar manner to the car pulling – taking your hands off the wheel momentarily to see if the vehicle corrects its position on the road. If it doesn’t then you may have loose steering or worn out suspension components.

Uneven Tyre Wear: This is an another obvious, tell-tale sign of wheel aligment issues. Check the depth of the tread on either side of your vehicle’s tyres, if one side appears to be more worn than the other then the chances are there’s an alignment problem.

How You Can Resolve Alignment Issues? If there was one tip we could offer here, it would be to drive carefully. By looking ahead and staying switched on behind the wheel, you’ll give yourself a better chance of avoiding any bumps or potholes in the road. It goes without saying that encountering such a hazard might well throw out alignment and even damage your brakes. Simply conserving speed and being prudent behind the wheel will also place less strain on steering and suspension.

What are the benefits of correct wheel alignment?

  • It prolongs tyre life.
  • Improved handling.
  • Reduces wear on the steering column.
  • Improved fuel efficiency.

Book a free alignment check with us now!
We’re experts in wheel alignment and we offer free tyre checks and free wheel alignment inspections, so what are you waiting for?! Book online or simply call in.

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