How Long Does An Alignment Take?

A maintenance task must be carried out routinely to ensure the proper running of your vehicle.

If your car wheel is misaligned, there is a need for repair. This repair task is referred to as a Tire Alignment.

When performing this task, the vehicle must be tested before the wheel alignment is done, and any problem observed is repaired to ensure its back to normal.

This guide will enlighten you on the basics of wheel alignment, including its conditions and procedures.

What is a Tire Alignment?

A tire alignment, as discussed earlier, is a maintenance task that ensures the smooth running of a vehicle. It involves adjusting wheels with one another and also with the surface. This is achieved by putting the suspension system in the right position and carefully working on other parts.

A professional is needed for this task, so you should take your vehicle to a professional if you don’t know anything related to tire alignment.

Some functions of Tire alignment include: aligning the wheels of a vehicle as well as the axles, enhancing movement in a parallel direction, proper positioning, and adjusting suspension angles and steering wheel.

A vehicle manufacturer is responsible for analyzing tire alignment standard angles, and this ought to be specified in degree.

For a four-wheel-drive vehicle or an all-wheel-drive vehicle, a four-wheel tire alignment is required.

This is not the case for a front or rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Here, a thrust-angle or front-end alignment is used. That is to say that the type of alignment required is dependent on the vehicle’s suspension system and how power is distributed.

How Important Is Wheel Alignment?

To avoid future damages that could arise as a result of misaligned wheels, which could lead to a decrease in your car’s handling ability, you should at all times ensure that your car undergoes wheel alignment. It is a very necessary task that shouldn’t be overlooked.

You might observe that your car cannot change direction, making driving uninteresting and exhausting. This could be dangerous too, as it can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

Also, if you don’t carry out wheel alignments on your vehicle, the tires become faulty and would require a replacement which can increase the cost of maintenance.

There could be a lot of flat spots and tire blowouts, damages in suspension systems and wheel rims due to misaligned wheels as it increases tire tension, hence reducing the vehicle’s performance.

How Do You Know If Your Car Needs An Alignment?

If you notice these signs discussed below in your car, you need to consider aligning your wheel.

1. Off-center Steering Wheel

An oddly angled steering wheel could indicate a front-end alignment rather than a four-wheel alignment.

This means that the alignment is only carried out on your front axle. Alignment of this type is the simplest and is not recommended for modern vehicles.

A four-wheel alignment puts together all the thrust-angle and front-end alignments combinations.

It is commonly carried out on four-wheel-drive vehicles that have rear suspensions that are easily adjusted and also in all-wheel-drive vehicles.

On the other hand, the thrust alignment positions all four wheels by putting together a front-end alignment and thrust alignment. Vehicles having a solid rear axle can use this type of alignment.

When driving, you should closely observe the direction of the steering. If you aren’t paying attention, you might be driving with your steering wheel misaligned subconsciously.

The mechanic adjusts the front tie rods during a front-end alignment to remove any pull from the steering wheel.

It ensures that the front tie rods are in the same direction as the rear tires by changing their position relative to the steering column.

Doing this can get the directional pull working, but it can also cause the issue of off-tracking. It can also lead to a reduction in the vehicle’s performance and drivability since your vehicle makes a slight angle movement while driving.

Also, fuel economy is decreased from dragging and resistance from the wind.

2. Steering Wheel Vibrating

Whenever a car hits a pothole or even a curb, a misaligned wheel causes vibration, which can result in difficulty in handling your vehicle.

If an unbalanced tire pulls in the opposite direction, vibration can occur from the misalignment.

3. Loosed Steering Wheel

In addition to a misaligned wheel, a loose or slack steering wheel indicates a problem. Ideally, your vehicle should be able to be controlled.

If the tire movement is not changing much and controlling the wheel becomes problematic, you have to perform a wheel alignment immediately.

4. Uneven Tire Wears

Uneven tire wear is a common sign that can indicate your car needs an alignment. This is because misaligned wheels cause uneven wear on tires.

Therefore, a proper inspection must be conducted. You can take measurements of tread depth in different parts.

Tread depth equal to each other indicates proper alignment. On the other hand, unequal depth calls for a wheel alignment check.

Also Read: What is a Serpentine Belt & When Should You Replace It

How Long Does an Alignment Take?

How Long Does An Alignment Take
Credits: AMNAT DPP / Shutterstock

The alignment process can take up to two hours if the suspension system is basic, but it may take much longer if the suspension system requires more work. It is applicable for both two and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Wheel alignment can be positioned to fit any angle in the view, ensuring that the wheels and road surface are in close contact for proper vehicle movement. This is why wheel alignment is necessary and encouraged.

If you don’t understand what a proper alignment involves, it can be difficult to answer the question How Long Does An Alignment Take?

Here is an evaluation.

The wheel alignment machine must be preprogrammed based on your vehicle’s measurements to ensure an accurate alignment. By doing this, you will ensure your wheels are precisely aligned.

The first step involves inspecting the suspension systems. The components that are loose and need tightening and those that are damaged and need repairing should be repaired accordingly if a positive result is to be achieved.

Before performing wheel alignment, the vehicle must be tested. Then any problems found are worked on and fixed to ensure the vehicle is back to normal and fits best.

Wheel alignment should be done in conjunction with wheel balancing to gain the most benefit.

How long does wheel balancing take? It should not take more than 2 hours to complete such a process, especially if the right machines are used. Keep this in mind.

How long does it take to balance a wheel? It takes between 40 minutes and 2 hours to balance a wheel. It takes this time to balance the wheels using the correct machines.

Wheel Alignment Procedure

First, you should know that wheel alignment refers to adjusting the suspension system to adjust the wheels. The angle of the tires is what determines how they contact the road. We will now show you how to align your wheels correctly.

  1. Do not neglect some important actions. For example, the tire’s air pressure should be correct as instructed. 
  2. Examine the wheels closely to see if they have any cracks. If you see a worn-out tire or one with very low quality, replace it immediately. 
  3. It is imperative that all suspension components are checked thoroughly. If a fault is found, it could lead to further complications.
  4.  Afterward, the vehicle should be hooked up to a computerized wheel alignment machine.
  5.  Utilize equipment and tools that are in good condition. You do not want to start over. 
  6. Take accurate measurements, measuring each angle by attaching the tools to each wheel and taking records. Angles are adjusted correctly from the records taken.

There are three angles in a vehicle. They include:

Camber Angle: If the camber angle is not correct, you should inspect the vehicle from the front. Malaligned camber is often caused by the incorrect alignment of ball joints and bearings.

Toe Angle: The toe angle can be viewed from the top of the car. Adjustment is required if the wheels are not angled correctly.

Caster Angle (or Caster Angle): These can be viewed from the side of the vehicle. They are responsible for equilibrium in steering wheels. A Positive caster wheel usually bends toward the driver and a negative caster toward the front.

Aligning the wheels is an important part of maintaining the vehicle. But why? Uneven tire wear is caused by unaligned wheels, which cause instability and reduce vehicle handling ability, and it can also affect the wheel bearings.

Here is a video on wheel alignment procedure

What Is The Cost Of An Alignment?

A car alignment is relatively inexpensive compared to other repairs and maintenance. A single alignment costs $75 and an average of $200 for extended warranties; this, however, depends on what kind of car you have and your place of residence.

The cost for multiple alignments could be higher than that of a single alignment with extended warranties. Check conditions to know if you are eligible for a free alignment.

It is the duty of your mechanic to see to the adjustment of your vehicle’s tire and suspension system.

Alignment companies often offer lifetime warranties. This is a smart idea for those who plan to drive their cars for many years on rough roads.

How Often Do I Get A Tire Alignment?

There are many factors that can affect the frequency of wheel alignments, including your vehicle type, driving habits, and other factors. Most mechanics recommend that wheel alignments should be done every 2 to 3 years. It is best to stick to the recommendations in your owner’s guide.

Your car manual will provide you with instructions of how often you need to get a tire alignment; a technician can also assist. The type of vehicle in use, even your driving habits, can indicate how often you need a tire alignment.

Occasionally, you can seek proper guidance from a technician for clear understanding. In some cases, an owner’s manual may be helpful, but not in all cases as some can be complex and exhausting.

A wheel alignment is unnecessary as often if the road you drive on does not have bumps or potholes. Usually, after a few years of driving, a vehicle’s alignment will be slightly off and need to be aligned.

Different factors might influence wheel alignment For example, Cars with larger tires would need more wheel alignment. You should use a wheel alignment every time you replace a tire.

How Long Does An Alignment Last?

It is impossible to estimate exactly how long an alignment will last. As a rule of thumb, you should have your wheels aligned every two to three years or when you notice any warning signs. It’s also recommended that you align your wheels after installing new tires.

Also Read: Car Shakes When Braking – Why & How To Fix

Conclusion

There you have it, your answer to How long does an alignment take

On average, wheel alignment should take between 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how complex the suspension system is and how many adjustments are needed to achieve the right angles. This is both for a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. It does not include suspension work. it’ll take a longer time if some components have to be replaced.

Maintaining your car and keeping it in top condition will protect you and your family while you are on the road. It also prevents costly repairs. If your wheel alignment is faulty, you can have it checked periodically.

This will ensure that your tires last longer than you expected. After replacing or repairing suspension parts, wheel alignment must be done.

Make sure the wheel alignment center that you use has the proper measurements for each car model. These simple tasks will keep you safe and protect your driving.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

Leave a Comment