You should know by now that I love talking about tires. I have taught you all about tire pressure, checking your tire treads, and even convinced you the importance of tire safety in the winter. So needles to say, I am back again with another article on tires! This time we talk realignment and rotations.
Your tires take a big hit during the winter. Not only do they have to deal with snow and ice, but they also have to deal with potholes. Yea you know what I mean. How many times have you hit a massive pothole, then a couple days later your car feels off? You take it in for a check-up and your mechanic asks if you want a rotation or realignment. Your face blanks, and you say…. both?!
Trust me, you aren’t the only one who has been in this situation. A wheel alignment and tire rotation are completely different and they cost totally different amounts. Which is why you should know what each one means so you are prepared the next time you have a check-up, or you hit another pothole 😉
Wheel Alignment Vs. Rotation.. What’s The Difference?
When your car feels shaky or uneven, odds are you could have a wheel or two out of whack. Sometimes, all four need to be aligned. Other times, you can get by with a tire rotation. I am here to teach you about each so you know which action should be taken! First, let’s talk wheel alignment.
Wheel alignment ensures optimal driving. When you hit potholes or go off-roading and your wheels get out of whack, you actually cause uneven tire wear. Over time, if nothing is fixed, unaligned wheels could affect your cars’ performance, steering wheel turning capabilities, and tire movement. Wheel alignment is basically the process of straightening your front tires to match up with your rear tires. Making sure there is a straight line between the two, on each side.
Your wheels are locked in pretty well so alignments shouldn’t happen all the time. However, if you feel your steering wheel pulling to one side, any form of heavy vibration while driving, or if you have any difficulties driving altogether, odds are you need an alignment (you can also check your tires from the rear and see if they are straight from back to front). Alignments are costly ( about $125 /tire) but worth it in the long run. They enhance the life of your tires, which means you shouldn’t have to buy new ones as frequently!
Tire rotation (also known as wheel/tire balancing) is completely different from an alignment. Rotations should be performed more frequently and are not as expensive. A tire rotation is when your mechanic, essentially, moves your tires from one position to another, creating even wear. You’ll know if you need a rotation because your car will shimmy side to side while driving. As you drive, the rubber on your tires will wear off which causes this imbalance. Because of this, you should get your tires rotated every 5,000-6,000 miles.
So, the next time your car feels off and you take it in to be looked at, you can explain to your mechanic whether you think you need a rotation or alignment! Don’t skip an alignment just because of the price, though. If you need a wheel alignment, then get it done ASAP. Trust me when I say it will be cheaper than replacing your tires completely!
Lastly, try to avoid those potholes! The less you drive over potholes the more healthy your tires will be in the long run 🙂