SHOULD YOU GET AN ALIGNMENT BEFORE NEW TIRES?
Did you know the life of your vehicle’s tires can be shortened by a many of different of factors, including worn suspension and steering parts, your driving habits, the type of road surfaces you drive on, and your vehicle’s alignment? Most mechanics recommend checking the alignment regularly, especially if you buy new tires, but should you get your tires changed before you get an alignment on your vehicle?
Let’s start with what is an alignment?
Not everyone understands what the term alignment means and how an alignment affects your vehicle. To better know whether you should have the alignment completed before or after you replace the tires, let’s take a look at the process.
First, your vehicle’s steering and suspension consist of several parts that must all be in good condition and properly aligned to make sure your vehicle handles properly and the tires wear evenly. These parts typically include the following:
Struts or shock absorbers
Steering rack and pinion or steering linkages and steering gear
Tires and wheels
When your vehicle rolls off the production line, these items are in perfect alignment with each other using a computerized, laser-guided alignment machine. However, potholes, mileage, collisions, and many other issues can cause these parts to become out of alignment. While a vehicle with a less-than-perfect alignment typically increases tire wear, worn tires rarely, if ever, cause your vehicle to become out of alignment.
Which should come first: New Tires or Alignment?
Most experts suggest that the only effect worn tires are likely to have is a change to the vehicle’s ride height which, given today’s steering and suspension design, is unlikely to have an effect on the alignment. So, should you complete an alignment before you install new tires or should you wait until the new tires are on the vehicle?
While your vehicle’s alignment can play a major role in how well or poorly the tires wear, other factors can also cause similar issues. One of the most common issues concerns worn or damaged steering and suspension parts. These parts include all moving and stationary steering parts, shocks, struts, and springs. Before you invest in either a new set of tires or an alignment for your vehicle, you might be better off having a certified technician inspect your vehicle’s steering and suspension for you.
So should you get an alignment before new tires?
Since every situation is different we suggest talking to a trained technician. For the most part, doesn’t matter whether you get your alignment before or after having your new tires put on. Most experts agree that the only effect worn tires have on your alignment is a change to the vehicle’s ride height which, given today’s steering and suspension design, should be negligible.