mechanic inspecting suspensionWheel misalignment sounds like a straightforward issue – your car’s wheels need to be reset to the original manufacturer specifications – yet the term actually refers to your vehicle suspension.

As a whole, the suspension system encompasses the tires, springs, shock absorbers and other important components that connect the car to its wheels. When these components are improperly aligned with the steering system, you could experience a lack of control or inconsistent driving performance.

If the car pulls to one side or you’re unable to drive in a straight line, you’re likely dealing with a misaligned suspension system. Here’s what you should know.

How Wheel Misalignment Happens

It can be hard for drivers to pinpoint a specific instance that resulted in misalignment. Rather, a number of factors brought on by weather or poor road conditions could be the cause of the issue:

  • Impact: You hit a pothole, drive over the curb or get into a fender-bender and the impact is enough to throw off the alignment. The greater the force, the greater the effect.
  • Wear and Tear: Unexplained alignment issues are often caused by key parts of your car’s suspension getting slack or loose over time. As these parts get worn, one side of your car may appear higher or something simply seems unstable as you drive.
  • Modifications: If you’ll be changing the design of your car’s body, don’t forget about the suspension system. The manufacturer sets it to certain specifications and, if sits too low from the rest of the body, the whole vehicle gets misaligned and won’t perform properly.

How Wheel Misalignment Affects Your Car

Beyond the car feeling “off”, misaligned wheels can also affect its performance:

  • Uneven Tire Wear: As treads are not uniformly worn, balding might show up prematurely in spots. Consequently, it’s easier to lose control, hydroplane on certain surfaces or experience a tire blowout.
    Poor Fuel Economy: Are you going through gas faster than usual? Greater exertion is needed to drive a misaligned car, which ultimately means it will use more fuel.
  • Difficulty Driving Straight: Your car pulls in a certain direction, requiring more force and power to drive in a straight line. This occurrence may also come with braking issues.
  • Challenges Turning: Some drivers report the car feels like it will tip over, while others notice it is less likely to continue on a straight path after going around a corner.
  • Steering Issues: Trouble driving in a straight line or traveling around a corner might be a steering wheel issue. You may notice the wheel is crooked or vibrates as you drive.
  • Accident Risks Increase: This combination of factors makes your vehicle less predictable. In traffic, swerving or a tire blowout increases your chances of hitting another vehicle, a pedestrian or stationary object, especially when driving in the rain or snow.

Once you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take your car to DaSilva’s Auto Body. We can run a diagnostic exam to determine the full scope of damage and use laser measuring to ensure your vehicle is realigned properly. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact us today.