- Bumping into curbs or other objects – We’ve all done it. When making a turn or even pulling into a parking stall, we sometimes bump into the concrete. Although we don’t see any physical damage to the car, it’s possible that one of these bumps causes a wheel to be knocked out of alignment.
- Road conditions – Potholes and extremely bumpy roads can alter the alignment of your vehicle. Much like bumping into a curb or parking stop, this can affect your alignment. It may take more time, but it’s definitely a possible.
- Normal wear and tear – Your suspension is extremely complex from shocks or struts, to ball joints, control arms and other parts. Each of these are designed to not only make your ride as smooth as possible but to hold the wheels in alignment as well. Over time, certain parts can come out of adjustment, which is why it’s typically recommended to have your alignment checked at least once a year or every 12,000 – 15,000 miles.
Now, lets talk about the signs your should be looking for to see if your Honda needs an alignment.
1. Your Honda is pulling to the left or the right
This is the easiest and most common sign to look for if your vehicle is out of alignment. Ideally, your vehicle is going to drive straight. A potentially dangerous mistake that people make is that they take their hands off of the wheel to see if their vehicle is driving straight. You should never do this for safety reasons, so you should be looking for pulling while your hands are on the wheel.
You can tell if your vehicle is pulling even with your hands on the wheel depending on how bad the pull is. If you feel like you’re constantly correcting the path of your vehicle to the left or the right, there’s a good chance that the alignment is off. This can be extremely noticeable, or it may be a little more subtle. If it’s a slight pull, then you should simply loosen your grip a little to see if it’s pulling while your hands are still in contact with the steering wheel.
One thing to note is that some roads have what is called “road crown”, which is when a road is designed to slightly slant towards the curb in case of rain so it can prevent flooding. Sometimes a slight pull to the right is completely normal in these cases.
2. Abnormal tire wear and vibration
A vibration may be a tire balance issue, but it can also be a sign that your vehicle needs an alignment. In any case, you should always check your tires regularly for potential alignment issues. Here are a few signs you should look for:
- Inner or outer wear – Even though your vehicle may not pull, if your tires are wearing more on the inside or outside, the alignment is off.
- Spotting – When looking at the center tread of the tire, you may see parts that are wearing. This is typically due to a suspension issue that needs to be corrected.
- Wear in the center tread or outter tread on either side – This is typically a sign of over or under inflation of the tire, which can alter the alignment of your Honda.
3. Steering wheel is not centered
It’s important to understand that this is not the same as a pull. It’s possible for your vehicle to not pull, but your steering wheel is not centered. There are different suspension parts that connect directly to your steering column and wheel, and when they are off, the steering wheel may not be centered. If you are driving straight and notice your steering wheel is slightly turned to either side, it’s time for an alignment.
4. Handling feels loose
When your Honda is in alignment, your steering should feel tight and concise. Having your steering feel loose when you’re driving is a common sign that your vehicle needs an alignment. If while you’re driving you feel the steering wheel constantly moving back and forth to the left and the right, this typically means some steering parts have been knocked loose and need to be tightened with an alignment.
5. Steering wheel does not return to center
For years now, most Hondas have been made with power steering, which has made the lives of Honda owners much better. There is a hydraulic fluid that runs through your steering system that not only helps your steering take less effort, but it also helps return your steering wheel back to center. When certain steering and suspension components become loose or damaged, the steering wheel may not return to center. You can check this any time you make a left or right turn and see how naturally the steering wheel returns to straighten out.
If you have noticed that your Honda is having any of these symptoms, allow us to do your alignment. Not only is the alignment meant to make your drive smoother and help extend the life of your tires, but it’s also a safety concern. We’ll be more than happy to check your alignment and make any adjustments as needed and give you a proper quote before we do any repairs, so come and see us today.