Wheel Alignment: How Much Does It Cost and When Do You Need It?
Have you ever noticed that your car is pulling to one side even though you are driving along a straight road? Perhaps you have noticed the steering wheel is vibrating, or your tyres are wearing out much more quickly than usual and the tread depth is uneven. These are signs that your car’s wheel alignment is off, and you will need to get it corrected. Misalignment can be an irritating problem that can quickly become dangerous if it is not repaired sooner rather than later. Getting your car’s wheels aligned is essential for making sure that the tyres are able to perform correctly, prevent issues with steering, and improve the overall handling of your car.
What is the Cost of Wheel Alignment in Australia?
If you suspect that your car needs to have a wheel alignment, then one of the first questions that you might ask is how much you can expect to pay. This will depend on the type and size of the car and whether you’re getting just a front wheel alignment or all four wheels aligned. You can usually expect to pay around $50 to have a four-wheel alignment for a smaller car, while it’s around $120 for larger vehicles. Four-wheel drives and SUVs tend to cost more, while there may be other adjustments to be made to your car during the job that could add on to the time and price. It’s a good idea to budget between $125 and $150 depending on the make and model of your car and how much work you expect to be needed.
Wheel Alignment Cost – How Long Does it Take?
In general, a wheel alignment is a fairly quick job that will take around one hour. This will usually be the case for both two-wheel and four-wheel drive cars. However, you may need to add on more time if your car has other steering and suspension issues that will need to be repaired during the wheel alignment, as this can take longer. For example, the process might take longer if there is damage to the track rods, suspension system, and other parts that will need to be repaired during the wheel alignment for the wheels to be aligned correctly.
How Much Does a Wheel Alignment Cost and How Often Should You Have it Done?
There is no specific time period that you should pass before you take your car for a wheel alignment, although it is recommended that you do it at least once every six months or every time you have driven ten thousand kilometres depending on which comes first. However, wheel misalignment is something that you should always be looking out for when driving since it can happen at any time. It is often caused by simple problems that you might not always be able to avoid such as going over a pothole in the road. When you are driving, keep a look out for problems like your car pulling to one side or the steering wheel vibrating, and regularly check your tyres for signs of uneven wear, which can be a big sign that the wheels need to be realigned.
Wheel Alignment Cost in Australia – Main Signs Your Car’s Wheels are Misaligned
To avoid a situation where you are causing more damage to your car by driving when the wheels are not aligned, it’s important for all drivers to be aware of the main signs and symptoms that indicate that a wheel alignment is necessary. When you are driving with wheels that are misaligned, you might notice that the handling feels looser than usual, the car is pulling to one side, or the tyres are wearing faster than usual or unevenly. Some of the most common signs of wheel misalignment include:
Car Pulling to One Side
Sometimes, your car might pull away slightly for a few seconds. If this is the case, then it might not always be due to misaligned wheels, as most cars are designed with a slight pull away from oncoming traffic to ensure that the car moves away from traffic in the event of the driver losing control. In some cases, the car might feel like it is pulling to one side due to the road camber. However, if you have noticed that your car pulls to the side excessively and you need to keep a lot of pressure on the steering wheel to keep it straight, then you might be dealing with wheels that are not aligned correctly. Violently pulling to one side could be an indication that you have a failed or excessively worn component in the steering and suspension system, which should be checked by a professional as soon as possible.
If you feel that your car is not as stable as it should be when going around corners or that it’s going in all directions around the road when you drive, this is loose handling that could be a sign you need to get the wheels aligned. With your wheel alignment, it is also a good idea to have a further inspection of the car’s other steering and suspension components for wear or damage, as this can be caused by issues such as worn track rods and steering arms. If the handling is loose, you may have noticed things like the steering wheel continuing to turn on its own, even though you are no longer turning it around a corner, or the steering wheel moving a lot if you drive over a bump in the road.
Steering Wheel Off Centre
Another issue that might come up if you have misaligned wheels in your car is that the steering wheel may not be centred. The steering wheel should always sit straight with the brand’s logo level and in the centre of the wheel when you are driving along a straight and flat road. If you have noticed that even when you are driving in a straight line, your steering wheel is always off to one side, this can be a major sign that your wheel alignment needs attention.
Uneven Tyre Wear
You may also notice that your tyres are wearing much faster than usual or have uneven wear if your car’s wheels are misaligned. This is because the misalignment puts uneven pressure on the tyres when you are driving. If this is the case, you will need to have both the wheel alignment and the tyre pressure checked and adjusted. In some cases, you may even need to replace your tyres.
How Much Does Wheel Alignment Cost and What To Expect During the Process?
You should book a wheel alignment or an inspection of the steering and suspension for your car if you notice any of the signs mentioned above. A wheel alignment involves manually adjusting the car’s suspension system. The mechanic will make some adjustments to several suspension components to ensure that they are restored to the right setting, which ultimately helps to prevent issues with steering, improve the car’s overall handling, and preserves your tyres.
There are three main parts of the steering and suspension system that are checked and adjusted during the wheel alignment process, which are the caster, camber, and toe. The caster refers to the steering axis when viewing the car from the side, while the camber is the tilt of the tyres inwards or outwards when you view the vehicle from the front. The toe refers to the inward or outward angle when you look at the tyres from above.
Wheel Alignment Cost and Future Savings
If your wheels are misaligned, then continuing to drive your car like this could mean that you end up paying more for repairs in the future. Driving your car for longer than necessary could mean that eventually you are not only going to need to pay for a wheel alignment but also other repairs that are now necessary due to the misalignment such as damage to the steering and suspension parts or replacing excessively or unevenly worn tyres. Along with this, getting the wheel alignment corrected also means that you can save a lot on fuel costs, which is important for most drivers given the rising costs of fuel at the moment. When the wheels are not correctly aligned this will cause the tyres to drag on the road more, leading to premature wear and using more fuel to move your car along the road, which decreases fuel efficiency.
How Much Is a Wheel Alignment With New Tyres?
It is a good idea to get a wheel alignment and tyre replacement at the same time. Many mechanics offer packages that can be worth taking advantage of if your tyres have become unevenly or excessively worn. The cost to do this will depend on whether you get brand new or part-worn tyres, the tyre brand you choose, and the tyre efficiency you go for. More durable and efficient tyres will cost more but may be worth the investment.
Since small issues like driving over bumps and potholes in the road can cause your wheels to become misaligned, a wheel alignment is something that you should be prepared to book quite regularly.