Does Towing Affect Alignment?

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Wheel alignment, which is sometimes called breaking or tracking, is a standard automobile maintenance practice that involves adjusting wheel angles according to the specifications of its manufacturers. This practice is meant to reduce tire wear or degradation, and also to ensure that the vehicle travels in a straight line.

So, Does Towing Affect Alignment? Of course, towing affect wheel alignment in several ways. The specifications regarding how your wheels fit with the tires are significantly affected when their alignment is distorted by rough or improper towing.

In these misaligned wheels, they are not pointing straight as they ought to, and your tires are also not centrally placed in the wheel wells.

A properly aligned wheel adjusts the angles of your vehicle’s wheels to their original specifications, in order to improve gas mileage, permit proper contact with the road, provide an enjoyable drive and guarantee the longest possible tire life span.

Whenever towing affects wheel balancing and alignment, it also affects all these factors as well. So, yes, towing affect wheel alignment.

Is it possible to stop towing from affecting wheel alignment?

The distortion of wheel alignment while towing cannot be entirely prevented, but can only be significantly reduced to the barest minimum through diligent driving, carefulness, maintaining recommended towing weights and respect to all road rules and regulations.

How does one stop towing from affecting wheel alignment?

It is realistically impossible to stop your car from hitting obstacles on the road,  your tires from getting worn out with time or falling into gallops and potholes in the road. As long as you face these challenges, your wheel alignment is very susceptible to distortion.

The only approach to this issue is a reduction in the rate at which that happens through careful driving (not exceeding recommended speed limits for towing), evading obstacles on the road, going across potholes and gallops at the slowest possible speeds and so on.

If you do this regularly whenever you tow, it is assured that even if you can’t stop the damage to your alignment altogether, but you can slow it down as much as possible.

Read Also: Can You Tow A Car With Handbrake On?

What can mess up an alignment?

Several reasons are indicted in messing up a vehicle’s wheel alignment, which are: any sudden disturbance or impact from hitting an obstacle or object on the road, going at top speeds over bumps on the road or damage to any suspension components such as shocks or struts. When these components are bad, they cause wear and damage to the alignment.

Does alignment cause pulling?

Alignment can cause pulling, but not directly. For instance, poor wheel alignment can cause very rapid tire wear or tear, and this wear will eventually cause pulling. So, in a way, alignment can cause pulling.

Why is my car still pulling to the right after alignment?

In most cases, when this sort of thing happens, your wheel alignment was not done well. Another common reason why your car may pull to one side, and in this instance to the right, is because your tires are unevenly worn out, which can make your steering wheel to shift away from the centre while driving, and hence the shift to one side.

How much should an alignment cost?

The amount you pay for an alignment will depend on whether it is done on one or two tires or fully on all four tires.

For a full alignment, you may pay up to about two hundred dollars, while a single alignment can cost you from fifty to one hundred dollars.

Slight variations in the costs are common from one auto specialist to another, though the differences aren’t much, this will give you the general idea.

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What else can affect alignment aside from towing?

Other factors also affect wheel alignment and not just towing. Some of these are badly maintained roads, vehicle and tire wear and sudden impacts with hard obstacles such as curbs by the roads.

The most common among some of these factors that affect alignment are suspension component wear, tremendous torque and friction from driving that put pressure on the shocks, springs and tires.

Hitting potholes at high speeds, crashing into large and hard obstacles or even parking against pavements forcibly can all cause damage to your wheel alignment too.

How do you tell if your alignment is messed up?

It is easy to know when your wheel alignment needs a re-touch. Once you notice certain developments in the vehicle while driving, you should start thinking of getting your car wheels re-aligned. Some of these are:

  • The vehicle tilting or pulling to either sides of the road.
  • Your tires which ideally should last long enough are, on the contrary wearing out prematurely or unevenly.
  • The tires starting to squeal noisily.
  • Your steering wheel tilting away from the centre while driving.
  • A feeling in the steering wheel as though it is vibrating, particularly when the vehicle is gaining speed.

What is the worst towing can do to a car’s alignment?

Towing can cause several and very worrisome damage to your vehicle’s wheel alignment. It is associated with many challenges, much like ordinary driving, if not more so.

During towing, there are chances of hitting a pothole or curb, going at top speed over hard objects and so on. All these are quite capable of totally destroying the alignment.

The complete destruction of any wheel alignment will inevitably lead to eating up of the tires faster than usual,  causing them to squeal noisily or making you experience very bumpy and uncomfortable driving. These are some of the worst things towing can do to wheel alignment.

Read Also: Can You Tow A Car With The Engine Running?

FAQ

What are the causes of bad wheel alignment?

Some prominent causes of bad wheel alignment are sudden impact or collision with hard objects on the road like speed bumps, potholes or curbs, over speeding across uneven roads,  parking forcibly against any pavements beside the roads, and damaged suspension components such as shocks, struts and so on.

What is the symptom of incorrect wheel alignment?

There are several ways via which incorrect alignment will manifest to you. For reasons of more proper understanding and uses, we shall categorize these symptoms into two: (1). Symptoms when driving and (2). Symptoms when the vehicle is stationary.

SYMPTOMS WHEN DRIVING

If you have wheels with bad alignments, one of the first things you are liable to experience while driving is a jerking steering wheel that may vibrate and refuse to return to its normal position, particularly after negotiating a corner.

You are also likely to witness uneven tire tread wear too. While in motion, your tires are bound to squeal disturbingly as well. Finally, you may observe excessive shoulder wear on the inner or even outer shoulder of one or more of your tires, which is an indication of camber setting problems.

SYMPTOMS WHILE STATIONARY

If you want to observe this clearly, park your vehicle with the wheels pointing forward and observe them while standing a few meters in front of the vehicle.

Observe both sides of the car and inspect whether the wheels are standing straight up or are slanting either inwards or outwards. If they are, you have a wheel alignment issue to contend with.

How fast will tires tear with bad alignment?

How fast this happens is dependent on several things. This means that the more severe the mis-alignment, the faster the tires tear and vice versa.

To start with, a small misalignment is likely to reduce your tire life span by just a few thousands of miles, while a considerable misalignment, can cause total tire wear after just a few hundreds of miles.

In fact, some trucks can eat up a pair of new tires in just a couple of months or even less than that.

Why should you pay attention to wheel misalignment symptoms?

Poorly aligned wheels wear your tires out aggressively, which in effect shortens their life span, causes regular flat tires, leads to rapid loss of inflation pressure and in the extreme, cause avoidable road traffic accidents. These symptoms manifest in a gradual manner, for that reason, you may miss them at first.

However, if you pay closer attention, they will reveal themselves in time to enable you to adopt measures that will save you money and also keep you safe too.

These are good enough reasons to pay attention to any wheel misalignment symptoms, aren’t they?

What are wheel alignment angles?

Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM) provide wheel alignment specifications before selling out their vehicles. To maximize your vehicle’s steering response, excellent traction with the road, maintenance of direction and so on, you must get your wheels at the recommended angles with the road.

These recommended tire angles with the road are known as wheel alignment angles. There are about three types of these angles.

  1. Camber angle: This is basically the inward or outward angle of the tire when looked at from the front of the vehicle. When this angle is either too much or too little, which is commonly called the negative or positive chamber, it shows improper alignment and hence, needs adjustment.
  2. The toe angle: It is simply the left or right tire assembly tilt, which is also the extent to which the tires can turn inward or outward when inspected from above. If the tires of your vehicle are angled in a similar way, it is called toe-in alignment, and when they are not, it is referred to as toe-out alignment and they need adjustment.
  3. Castor angle: The Castor angle is the vertical axis of a vehicle’s steered wheels which assists to balance the steering and gives stability when negotiating corners. Notably, it is the angle of the steering axis when observed from the side of the vehicle. A positive caster means the steering axis leans towards the driver, and a negative caster means the steering axis tilts towards the front of the vehicle.

How far can you drive without any alignment?

A straight forward answer is a distance of about 500 miles. However, if your tires are wearing evenly, you may not need any alignment.

Driving for 500 miles isn’t too much provided the vehicle is moving well, your steering wheel isn’t vibrating either and the car is also not shaking as you move on the road.

With a bad alignment, driving at top speeds and with brand new tires will most likely destroy them.

How do you extend the life span of your tires?

A most useful means of extending the life span of your tires is to routinely get them aligned. The most desirable thing in doing a proper wheel alignment is to establish your car’s current chamber.

Do you need to remove your vehicle wheels before any alignment?

For the most part, no, you don’t need to remove them. This is because an alignment does not require you to take off the tires. The equipment for a wheel alignment is simply attached to the wheels while they are still in place on the car.

Does Towing Affect Alignment – Conclusion

Several factors affect the alignment of your vehicle wheels, and it is only logical that you should know about them in order to guard against avoidable waste and any frustrations that may result.

For this reason, you are advised to know how best to tow your vehicle, how they should be maintained and whatever else you may require to attend to wheel misalignment matters.

Regardless of whatever you may know, proper care or maintenance of the vehicle and diligent driving are extremely important for you to get the best service from your vehicle wheels.

A most desirable factor to consider is how to detect or identify when your vehicle wheels are beginning to get misaligned.

Notably, they may begin to squeal, especially when turning a corner, your vehicle may begin to pull you to one side of the road or your tires may start to wear out unevenly.

There are many other symptoms, though these are some of the commonest, and should you observe some or any of them in your vehicle, you should promptly do something.

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