Proper wheel balance is important to ensure safe road travel. Sadly, not all road hazards can be avoided. You will run over an obstacle on the road or hit a large pothole with your tire, causing a previously well-balanced wheel to be thrown out of alignment.
Heavy wheel impacts and normal driving conditions will cause your wheels to eventually lose their balance. There are some clear signs that could indicate your wheels are out of balance and need to be realigned. Here are a few telltale symptoms you need to be aware of.
Gravitation Towards One Side of the Road
Does your car tend to pull to the right or left when you are riding on a smooth, straight road? Do you have to apply slight pressure on the steering wheel just to keep it moving straight on the road? To get the right answers for these questions, here is an experiment you can perform.
While on a straight road with a smooth surface that is free of traffic, position your car at the center of the road and remove your hands from the steering wheel. Keep your hands just above the steering wheel so that you can quickly grab it and regain control of the car.
For the few seconds that you will be carrying out this experiment, your car should continue to move in its original course considerably well without your intervention. If it ends up pulling to one side of the road, its wheels may need to be realigned.
When there is a vibration originating from your steering wheel or below your seat, your wheels could be out of alignment. Improper wheel alignment can also lead to vibration as wheels rub against other parts of the system. Excessive vibration can even cause your entire car to shake while you are driving down the road.
The intensity of vibrations can increase as you accelerate, causing even more damage to your car in the process. At times, you may observe that the steering wheel only vibrates when you are driving at particular speeds while the vibrating tends to stop at other speeds. This is because the misalignment leads to resonant frequencies at those specific speeds.
Irregular Tire Wear
Wheel misalignment and uneven tire wear are very closely related. If your tires are showing uneven tread wear patterns, your wheels could be asking for a realignment.
If you see any of these signs, consider taking your car to a professional for a car service.