Car Care 101: Wheel Alignments

After a long, cold winter, driving New Hampshire's roads feels more like driving on the surface of the moon. Potholes, frost heaves, and uneven surfaces can cause significant damage to Seacoast roadways, and they can also take a toll on your car.
While you can't take road repairs into your own hands, you can at least get a wheel alignment for your car right here on the Seacoast. When you feel like your car is not performing at its best, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be glad to take a look at your vehicle to make sure you stay safe and avoid problems down the road.

What is an Alignment?

During a wheel alignment, our mechanics will balance the tires so that they are perpendicular against the surface of the road and parallel to each other. An alignment is a routine part of car care, but it requires precision and an expert's hand, as the proper alignment varies based on your car's make, model, and your tires. When you bring your vehicle in for an alignment, our mechanics adjust the wheels' angles based on manufacturer specifications. Because alignment requirements vary among vehicles and the types of suspensions that they have, it's best to bring your car in for professional service rather than trying to change the alignment yourself.

When to Get an Alignment

Sometimes, you can tell that it's time for an alignment based on your car's performance. When you let go of the wheel while moving, your car should continue driving straight. If it suddenly pulls to the right or the left, there's a good chance the wheels need to be realigned. Also, if you feel excessive amounts of vibration while you are driving, the problem could be related to misaligned wheels. Along with getting an alignment as symptoms arise, you should always schedule an alignment after getting a new set of tires installed on the car or after switching seasonal tires. Minor accidents can cause tires to get misaligned too, so it's a good idea to make an appointment for a tune-up after a fender bender or other incident that may have caused hidden damage. In the absence of a precipitating event, you can make an appointment for an alignment based on time or mileage. Ideally, you should get the alignment checked at least twice a year (about every six months). Some car manufacturers suggest the mileage at which you should get your tires aligned. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to get the alignment checked about every 6,000 miles, which is approximately the amount of time most cars go between routine oil changes and service appointments. You can also schedule an alignment based on the earlier of the two parameters of either time or mileage.

The Benefits of an Alignment

Aside from creating a smoother ride, an alignment provides a number of additional benefits. Perhaps the most important is safety. Misaligned tires can make the tire treads wear unevenly. This in turn reduces the tires' longevity and makes them prone to flats and blowouts. Worn treads also have less grip and traction, which can reduce your braking performance at higher speeds. It can also make driving in snow, ice, and on slippery roads more dangerous. Along with safety issues, driving with unevenly worn tires can cause significant damage to the tires, which means that you'll have to replace them sooner than anticipated. Properly aligned tires can also improve your car's fuel economy, as driving on unevenly worn or generally worn out tires can increase their resistance against the road, which in turn requires the car to consume more fuel. Lastly, the car tires are connected to the car's suspension system, which means that if the alignment is out of whack, other components of the suspension system can become damaged too.

Making an Appointment

Now that you know when to make an alignment appointment, it's time to schedule an appointment. An expert technician on our team will do an alignment test to see if your car is due for a tune-up. Along with an alignment, we might suggest other complementary services to make sure your car is safe and sound on the road. A tire rotation or wheel balancing, which simply means checking the balance between the rim and the tire, are commonly performed in conjunction with an alignment. You can also ask your mechanic to do an all-over safety and performance check to make sure all other systems on the car look okay too.

Port City Nissan

120 Spaulding Turnpike

Portsmouth, NH 03801

Phone: 877-659-7701


Categories: Service