How to Determine if Your Steering Alignment is Off and What To Do About It
By: Mike Veenstra
The poor condition of the roads in Grand Rapids is a complaint universally acknowledged. They’re terrible, and, although city voters passed a millage in May to address the damage, and road crews are already at work, it will be quite some time before most of them are in even adequate condition. The city has only so many resources and people to put on fixing this problem.
In addition to Michigan’s already potholed roads, however, summer construction brings with it more challenges for your car. The debris found in the roads increases, and not just from road construction – roofers and builders are often responsible for the stray nails and screws found in flat tires. We’ve already gone over how to determine damage to your tires, rim, and suspension system, but hitting a pothole can also mess up the alignment of your steering system.
How do you determine if the steering in your car is misaligned? There are a number of signs:
- When you are driving straight, parallel to the road’s center line, is your steering wheel also centered?
- Does your car drift or veer to one side even when you are steering “straight”?
- Does your car’s steering wheel shake?
- Do your tires show signs of uneven wear?
These are the obvious ones, but even minor steering alignment problems can, over time, lead to tire wear and, eventually, replacement. Properly aligned tires also help your car get better mileage. It’s important that your car be able to steer straight for safety reasons as well, so having your tires checked for alignment every 6,000 miles is advised. It may seem like the middle of an endless summer now, but before too long, the snow is going to fly again, and you don’t want to be driving on compromised tires. You’ll have no traction on icy roads.
There are also several things you can do as a car owner to help out your steering system. First of all, keep your tires properly inflated. This helps reduce wear and tear and saves you money in better gas mileage as well. Win-win. You can also make sure any items you are carrying or storing in your vehicle are either removed or are evenly distributed across the car’s frame. Finally, drive less like a race car driver and more like a new father over those compromised roads. Frequent stops and starts are hard on your tires and your system, and if you drive more slowly and pay better attention, you will be able to avoid the potholes more easily.
If we at Veenstra’s can help you repair any pothole damage your car has sustained, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!