Wheel Balancing

Wheel Alignment

The life of your vehicle’s tires can be shortened by a number of factors, including worn suspension and steering parts, your driving habits, the type of road surfaces you drive on, and your vehicle’s alignment. Most tire dealers recommend checking the alignment regularly, especially if you buy new tires, but should you get your tires changed before you get an alignment on your vehicle?

What Is an Alignment?

Unless you are an auto technician, you may not understand what the term alignment means and how an alignment affects your vehicle. To better understand whether you should have the vehicle’s alignment completed before or after you replace the tires, take a look at the process.
Your vehicle’s steering and suspension consist of several parts that must all be in good condition and properly aligned to make sure your vehicle handles properly and the tires wear evenly. These parts typically include the following:

  • Struts or shock absorbers
  • Steering rack and pinion or steering linkages and steering gear
  • Ball joints
  • Control arms
  • Tires and wheels

When your vehicle rolls off the production line, these items are in perfect alignment with each other using a computerized, laser-guided alignment machine. However, potholes, mileage, collisions, and many other issues can cause these parts on your vehicle to become out of alignment. While a vehicle with a less-than-perfect alignment typically promotes tire wear, worn tires rarely, if ever, cause your vehicle to become out of alignment.