When you think car maintenance, it’s possible you’re considering the work that takes place under your car’s hood. That’s important, but drivers must also remember to have their vehicle’s tires regularly rotated and aligned.
These two processes play an important role in extending the life of your tires and keeping you safe on the road. Front tires wear out more quickly than rear tires because pressure is applied to them every time the steering wheel turns. Rotation helps even the wear on the tires.
Generally, tires must be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Check the owner’s manual for more specific recommendations or see your mechanic for additional expert advice.
Tire alignment means your car’s tires are perfectly positioned parallel to one another and perpendicular to the ground. If they aren’t, your vehicle could have trouble moving down the road smoothly and safely, and you’d have difficulty steering. Misaligned tires pull in the direction they’re pointing, working against the other tires on your car. Fuel economy will be reduced, and suspension and other components on your car may be damaged.
You’ll need to be especially aware of your car to know if you need alignment. If you notice an uneven wear pattern on your tires, if the vehicle pulls to one side when you take your hands off the wheel, or if you have had an accident, you may need to have an alignment performed.
Once your alignment is complete, take your car for a drive on a level, straight road. See that your steering wheel is positioned correctly and that the car moves in a straight line. If it doesn’t, return to the automotive shop for additional tweaks to get the alignment correct.