A wheel alignment is not usually something most people worry about as it isn’t really part of standard car maintenance schedules, but if you need one, you ought to worry about it as it can cause all sorts of issues that can even lead to an accident. As such, if you need your wheels aligned, make sure to do so as soon as possible.
As it so happens, Big O Tires is a place where many people take their cars for an alignment service. So how much is an alignment at Big O Tires?
How Much Is An Alignment At Big O Tires?
If you want to do your alignment services at Big O Tires, you ought to pay between $80 and $120 depending on if you need a front alignment or an alignment at all four corners. You also need to keep in mind that there are some price differences between Big O Tire facilities as prices vary due to location.
Why Should I Align My Tires?
- Fuel Economy
- Better Handling and Stability
- Longer Tire Lifespan
Does Wheel Alignment Increase Safety?
One of the most well-known symptoms of misaligned wheels is when your car pulls to one side or the other. This happens because your wheels aren’t angled properly which means that your steering inputs will never fully translate to the direction you want to go.
This will lower your on-road safety as it affects how confidently and precisely you can place your car through narrow corners, especially at higher speeds. This is even more exaggerated when driving through rain and snow and it could even make it really difficult to keep your car going in a straight line.
Does Wheel Alignment Increase Comfort?
If your wheels are misaligned, you are not using the entire contact patch of the tire to do all the softening when it comes to road undulations. Severely misaligned wheels can even put additional weight onto your tire sidewalls which will inevitably lead to vibrations and a really loud tire roar.
Your car feels jerky and unsettled which means that you will have to work more than usual to reach a satisfactory level of comfort. All of which can be negated by simply taking your car for a wheel alignment.
Does Wheel Alignment Increase Fuel Economy?
In today’s day and age of electric cars, terms such as drag and aerodynamics have become bragging points for many automakers, but these terms apply to all cars on the road, not just EVs. For example, if your wheels are misaligned, they will create more drag which will inherently reduce how effectively your car cuts through the air and cause your engine to work harder to reach an adequate speed.
This leads to more fuel being burnt which leads to bad fuel economy. A proper wheel alignment will make your car go as straight as possible which will lower your drag and thus increase your fuel economy.
Does Wheel Alignment Increase Handling and Stability?
One of the most noticeable issues with wheel misalignment is not being able to explore the very limits of traction and handling that your car can offer. This means that you will not be able to push your car the way you are used to as your car is not going to be as precise and as well controlled as usual.
This will not only make your car handle worse, but it will also increase your chances of ending up in an accident by quite some margin. Having a car that isn’t able to go straight when needed means that you will constantly have to do all sorts of steering corrections.
Does Wheel Alignment Increase Tire Lifespan?
There are many different ways how one can increase the lifespan of tires as doing a wheel alignment is just the tip of the iceberg. The biggest reason why misaligned tires die sooner is that they don’t wear in an even fashion. This means that one part of the tire is going to take increased abuse while other parts will not wear as quickly.
If you don’t align your tires, they are going to last significantly shorter. This is especially a problem if you don’t balance and rotate your tires as well as this can eat through your tires at an alarming rate which will lead to increased costs which excites absolutely no one besides the tax man.
How Much Does A Wheel Alignment Cost?
Average Alignment Cost
Big O Tires
Which Types Of Wheel Alignments Exist?
- Front End Alignment – Front wheel alignments as the name might suggest only include aligning your front wheels which is understandable as your front wheels are doing all the steering and are most vulnerable to becoming misaligned. This is the type of wheel alignment most people are doing, especially those who own cars with solid rear axles.
- Four-Wheel Alignment – Four-wheel alignments are not as common as it is much more difficult to misalign both front and rear wheels. However, if your technician notices that your rear wheels are also misaligned, be sure to perform a four-wheel alignment at all costs, especially on AWD cars, cars with adjustable rear suspensions, or those with independent rear shocks.
- Thrust Alignment – A thrust alignment refers to all four-wheel tracking, or in other words – making sure all four of your wheels are square against each other. This alignment is not nearly as common as the other two but can be a necessity if your car ends up in an accident.
What Do You Adjust When Doing Wheel Alignment?
The purpose of doing a wheel alignment is to adjust your camber, toe, and caster. Camber refers to the angle of the tire, or if it is facing inwards or outwards. A positive camber happens when the tops of tires are angled towards the outside while negative camber happens when the top of your tires are facing inwards. The idea here is to achieve a neutral camber when the top and the bottom of your wheels are perpendicular to the ground.
Toe adjusts the position in which your wheels are facing while your steering wheel is perfectly straight. As such, your toe is essentially an angle of the tires in regards to the longitudinal axis. If your wheels are pointing outwards when your steering wheel is straight, it means you are experiencing toe-out. Toe-in is when your tires are pointing toward each other while the wheel is straight.
The caster determines where the steering axis is in relation to the suspension system. If your caster is positive, it means that your suspension is tilting toward the rear of the car. If your caster is negative, it means that your suspension is pointing toward the front of the car.
All three of these need to be precisely where the manufacturer intended them to be in order to reach optimal wheel alignment. Sometimes you will have to adjust all three of these measurements while at other times you will just have to adjust your toe and camber.
When Do I Have To Align My Wheels?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to perform wheel alignment after a set amount of miles because a wheel alignment is necessary only if your wheels are misaligned. Thankfully, most places (including Big O Tires) offer a free inspection that will determine if you need a wheel alignment or not.
Most of these inspections tend to take a couple of minutes which is nothing compared to the headaches misaligned wheels can cause. The reality is that misaligned wheels tend to occur when your drivetrain, your suspension, or your wheels withstand a sudden impact that sends some of these components in the wrong direction.
Some people believe that wheel alignment is necessary after changing your tires, but it shouldn’t be that way. Be that as it may, be sure to do a wheel alignment inspection 10,000 miles or so, or whenever you notice any symptoms of misaligned wheels.
The costs of doing a wheel alignment at Big O Tires vary depending on the type of alignment needed and the location. Some locations in some states will charge you more than others and front-wheel alignment tends to be cheaper compared to four-wheel or thrust alignment. All in all, you can expect to pay between $80 and $120 for a wheel alignment at Big O Tires.
The good thing about Big O Tires is that they often offer various discounts and package deals that can lower this price even further. As such, be sure to be on the lookout for these as it’s always a good idea to know where to look if for some reason you do need wheel alignment or any other maintenance and car repair services.