Free wheel alignments for life; how is this possible??? There are auto service facilities that offer a one time cost for an alignment, and that’s it. Why are they giving away for free a service that can take from half an hour to two hours to perform, a service that utilizes one of the most expensive pieces of equipment an auto shop has to buy??? After all, it can cost from $20,000 to $50,000 to buy the best wheel alignment equipment.
Let’s start with some background information on wheel alignments. First of all, when should you have an alignment? This is not the type of service where you look up at a menu of services and say “Oh I have not had one of those for while, let me have an alignment today!!”
These are the times when you will need to have an alignment.
- After [repairs following] an accident – An accident could include something as small as hitting a pot hole or a curb, where the only repair required is an alignment, to a major collision involving extensive body work.
- When the car doesn’t seem to be steering straight - If you have some strange symptoms, for example you car is not steering straight on a flat highway, then an alignment is in order.
- Signs of uneven tire wear – Uneven tire wear is a a clear signal of an alignment problem.
- Following repairs to the steering and suspension – If parts are replaced that involve the steering and/or suspension, an alignment will likely be necessary.
That is about it. Cars do not just go out of alignment; something has to happen! That’s why shops can afford to offer free alignments for life -- you probably won’t need many over the life of your car.
Now if you have just had tires replaced after they have been on the car for 3-5 years then the alignment should be checked and the specifications kept on file. It is good to have a baseline of data so if you do have an alignment changing event, the data can be compared to your original alignment check. And remember, part of every preventive maintenance service includes checking the tires, that is, at least every six months.