After gas and insurance, tires are often the single greatest expense of owning an automobile. Even a safe driver who observes the rules of the road must replace them from time to time. According to the experts, the average set of wheels lasts around 40,000 miles. Since the average American motorist drives about 12,000 miles a year, they must replace all four tires every three to four years.
Depending on the size, brand, and performance quality, tires can range in price from $50-$200 each. If replaced as a set, as recommended, the average driver would have to shell out $200-$800 each time. That’s about $60-$230 a year! Fortunately, there are inexpensive automotive services that can greatly extend the life of your tires.
What Is Wheel Alignment?
In spite of its name, wheel alignment has little to do with the rubber that hits the road. A trained mechanic will actually work on your car’s suspension system during this common automotive services procedure. His objective is to adjust the angles of the tires so that they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. This helps ensure that they make full and complete contact with the road.
Because tires are designed to distribute stress evenly, poor alignment invariably results in increased wear to one particular part of the tread. When ignored, the problem almost always results in premature replacement. As we mentioned, this can cost a pretty penny. Alignment helps you avoid unnecessary waste for a fraction of the price. It also helps improve driving performance, fuel economy, and driving safety.
Poor alignment can also be quite dangerous. The reason? Because when wheels are uneven, the vehicle tends to pull to one side. This can make handling your vehicle on a rocky surface particularly challenging since you will be fighting the steering wheel and the road at the same time. It is also a fact that drivers have actually lost control of vehicles on sharp turns when their alignment was terribly out of whack. Last but not least, the lack of a solid base often causes vibrations at top speeds that make driving uncomfortable for all occupants. There may even be an increase in road noise because of vibrations that enter the cabin near affected areas.
The good news is that alignment is a fairly straightforward procedure any experienced mechanic can complete. It is not nearly as expensive or as time-consuming as brake or engine work. Most mechanics will only charge $50-$70 for a complete alignment job. As we saw earlier, that’s nothing compared to the price you’d pay for four new tires.
An alignment, one of the most affordable automotive services, can save you big money on tires and repair costs.