Getting a wheel alignment is one of the regular maintenance tasks required to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition. To make sure your car will run properly and safely, you need to have its wheels realigned at an auto repair shop or service center at a certain interval or when symptoms of misaligned wheels show. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn whether it's necessary, how often you should get a wheel alignment, and how long an ordinary alignment takes. Then see how Kia service coupons, service financing, or the Kia warranty can help you save on your next wheel alignment. If you aren't sure if the Kia warranty is right for you, check our page which goes into detail about it.
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A wheel alignment is the process of aligning the wheels of a vehicle with one another and the surface of the road. It's achieved by bringing the suspension system to its proper configuration and positioning as well as adjusting certain components. Unlike some other vehicle maintenance tasks that you can do yourself, a wheel alignment requires the expertise of an experienced mechanic and an alignment machine.
Basically, the purpose of a wheel alignment is to square a vehicle's wheels and axles with one another so that they'll move in the same direction. The process involves adjusting all the suspension angles that have an impact on tire movement and positioning, and ensuring the steering wheel is perfectly centered. The manufacturer of a vehicle designates standard angles for aligning its tires, which are specified in degrees.
The type of alignment your vehicle needs depends on its suspension system and the way it distributes power to its wheels. If you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle, you have to get a four-wheel alignment. On the other hand, if your vehicle uses a front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive system, it needs a front-end alignment or thrust-angle alignment.
Yes, wheel alignment is one of the most important maintenance tasks. If your wheels are misaligned, your vehicle will experience a dramatic drop in handling capability. It'll constantly pull in one direction, which can greatly inhibit its ability to turn or move in a straight line. This not only makes driving more difficult and reduces ride comfort, but it can jeopardize your and your passengers' safety.
In addition, failure to realign your wheels regularly can cause your cost of car ownership to go up considerably. Wheels that aren't properly aligned may lead to uneven tire wear, which means you'll have to replace your tires more frequently. It isn't uncommon for wheel misalignment to result in flat spots and tire blowouts because it can cause your tires to experience added tension. Also, misaligned wheels can lead to damaged wheel rims and suspension, which can affect the performance and longevity of your vehicle.
The interval for wheel alignment can vary significantly depending on the type of vehicle you own, your driving habits, and other factors. Most mechanics recommend that you get a wheel alignment once every two or three years. However, the best thing to do is to follow the recommended interval in your owner's manual.
If your owner's manual doesn't specify how often you should have your wheels realigned, you should bring your car to a service center or auto repair shop for a wheel alignment checkup at least once a year. Usually, a vehicle's wheel alignment will be at least slightly off after one or two years of driving. Nonetheless, if your car holds the road well, doesn't drift to one side, or has evenly worn tires, it isn't necessary to have its wheels realigned every year.
It's important to note that there are specific circumstances that may cause your vehicle to require wheel alignment on a more frequent basis. Vehicles with wider tires or performance-oriented cars usually need to have their wheels aligned more often. Additionally, you should consider getting a wheel alignment every time you install new tires on your car.
Besides going for a wheel alignment checkup on a regular basis, you should also look for certain signs indicating that your wheels need to be realigned. These signs include:
We know Rochester drivers are busy. So is an alignment a short or lengthy process? Under normal circumstances, a wheel alignment will take an average of one hour, whether it's a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. If there's too much wear and tear or damage on the suspension system, steering bushing, track rod, or other parts, it'll take a longer time as some components have to be replaced.
Wheel alignment is an essential maintenance task that you cannot afford to skip as it can have a significant impact on your vehicle's performance, ride comfort, safety, and lifespan. If you want to get a wheel alignment for your Kia vehicle, contact Tom Kadlec Kia today to schedule an appointment.
Getting a tire alignment is one of the best ways to keep your tires in good condition and getting the most life possible out of them. But how long does an alignment take?
We know how frustrating it can sometimes be to sit at the shop and wait for your vehicle to be done. Or maybe you dropped it off while you walked across the street to get some lunch and you’re hoping that it’ll be finished when you get back. And with something as important to your vehicle as an alignment, it’s just one of those things you have to do. But how long does a tire alignment really take? In this article, we’ll address that and much more about tire alignments.
Tire alignments will usually take between 30-60 minutes from the time the vehicle is pulled into the shop until it’s ready to go. This will depend on a few things including what type of alignment, what kind of vehicle it is, the condition of the vehicle’s components, and the experience of the technician.
The information in this article is gathered from a conglomeration of information from experts in the field with decades of experience between them. ASE-certified technicians who’ve done thousands of alignments over the years have attested to everything you read here. So you can rest assured that this is the real deal when it comes to tire alignments.
The most comprehensive type of tire alignment — and usually what you will be getting when you have your vehicle aligned — is the four-wheel alignment. As the name suggests, this type of tire alignment involves adjusting the alignment on all four wheels of the vehicle. Keep in mind this does also include dually trucks even though they have six wheels! It really just means that the alignment is checked and adjusted on both the front and rear of the vehicle.
For a four-wheel alignment, you can expect it to take around 30 minutes to an hour. This will be dependent on a number of different factors, but more on that later. Even though it can take upwards of an hour (or even longer in some cases), it’s well worth getting all four wheels aligned on your vehicle to get the most out of the alignment, your tires, the components of your suspension system, and more.
Even though the four-wheel alignment is much more comprehensive and the better option for your vehicle any time you need an alignment, there is a quicker and cheaper alternative.
As you have probably guessed by this point, the quicker and cheaper alternative alluded to above is the two-wheel alignment. A two-wheel alignment, as the name suggests, is a procedure where only the alignment of the front of the vehicle is checked and adjusted. While it technically could be only the rear, if the customer so chooses, the vast majority of the time that a two-wheel alignment is offered, it’s only for the front of the vehicle.
Although on average it will be faster than a comprehensive four-wheel alignment, a two-wheel alignment will still typically take upwards of 30 minutes or more. This is because a lot of the time for both types of alignment is due to setting the process up and then tearing it back down once the alignment is finished. Between setup and tear down of the procedure, you can expect it to take 15-20 minutes alone. So two-wheel alignments don’t really save all that much time.
So then why do people choose to only do two-wheel alignments at all?
Shops offer two-wheel alignments for a couple of reasons typically. First and foremost, it is faster on average so they can do more of them throughout the day, while still charging up to 75% of the four-wheel alignment cost at the same time. But also, some shops have alignment machines that can only do two-wheel alignments and don’t have the capabilities to measure the rear components of the vehicle.
One last thing to keep in mind when getting your vehicle aligned is the possibility of the shop just doing a quick toe adjustment on the front of the vehicle only, and getting the entire thing finished in 15-20 minutes. This type of alignment is often referred to in the industry as a ‘toe-n-go’ and is frowned upon among technicians and shops that pride themselves on doing high-quality work.
‘Toe-n-go’ alignments are done because the toe is one of the worst things that can chew up tires and it will usually be the aspect of the alignment that is most important in the long run. But it is of course not the only thing (there’s also camber, caster, etc.). The issue is that some alignment machines will actually only show toe adjustments so the technicians can’t do any more than that, but sometimes they’ll just choose to only adjust the toe.
So if you have an alignment that seems like it went really quickly, ask to see the before and after measurements and have them explain how they did everything they could. But do keep in mind that on some vehicles, the toe is the only thing that’s even adjustable. In which case, it’ll be like a ‘toe-n-go’ alignment anyway even if they’re doing as much as possible!
Remember above when we mentioned that some things can affect how long the alignment will take? Let’s dive a little deeper into a few of those things to see what makes a tire alignment take longer (or even go a bit faster!). Here are the three biggest factors of how long an alignment will take, other than the previously described type of alignment.
The biggest effect on how long an alignment will take is undoubtedly the type of vehicle that is being worked on. A small sedan or coupe with standard 15”-17” wheels will typically take far less time to align than a one-ton diesel pickup truck with 35” tires, for example. Also, newer vehicles will usually be quicker to adjust than older ones, but we’ll get into that in the next section.
This is just because of the size of everything underneath and how easily accessible the various components are. With a 2018 Honda Civic, for example, it’s super easy to set up and the tie rods (which are used to adjust the toe) are very easy to get to without doing much additional work. Compare this to a 2001 Ford F-250 that takes longer to set up and adjustment components can be hidden behind the frame and other large suspension parts and pieces.
As mentioned above, newer vehicles are usually easier to align and make adjustments to because of the condition of the components that you are adjusting. Take our 2018 Honda Civic and 2001 Ford F-250 from above into consideration.
On the Honda Civic, the nuts and bolts are going to be significantly newer (18 years newer) than on the F-250. So they will likely have no rust, won’t be seized, and will be fairly easy to adjust. On the old F-250, the nuts and sleeves could be rusted and seized which makes it very difficult to adjust them.
If the condition is really bad and technicians are worried about stripping any of the components, they might even have to bring in WD-40 lubricant or even a torch to heat them up and help break them loose. This will add time and effort, which will make the alignment take much longer than the Civic.
The last thing we’ll mention that can have a big effect on how long a tire alignment takes is the experience of the technician. This is one of the most important factors when it comes to any sort of service that you have done on your vehicle, not just alignments. If the technician has more experience, it will generally take less time than someone with far less experience.
Take an ASE-certified technician with 20 years of experience compared to a lube and alignment technician who just finished alignment training last month. The ASE-certified technician will likely be able to knock an alignment out in 30 minutes or less, without needing to look anything up or struggling to set it up right.
The lube and alignment technician, however, might spend longer setting it up and then need to look up what tools to use, where the adjustable components are, and how to make the adjustments. For someone new like this, it might take them 60-90 minutes for the exact same vehicle. Since you’ll be paying the same price for the alignment either way, if you can get the ASE-certified technician you’ll get out of there much sooner!
The procedure for servicing cars at tire change stations can take a different amount of time. The exact figure depends on the equipment present and the professionalism of the master. On average, changing the wheels of a car at a tire fitting stretches for 20-30 minutes, in the absence of a serious workload of personnel.
In some cases, the installation procedure can take an hour or more. The exact figure will depend on the type of work performed.
If you put new skates on the wheels, you need to count on at least an hour. The usual replacement of finished wheels is faster. A savvy master can change all discs in a few minutes.
The need for repairs also affects the efficiency of work. In some situations (vulcanization is required), the procedure may take a day.
Service stations and tire shops in Russia always try to work as quickly as possible. The salary of the master directly depends on the number of clients. Usually the procedure for changing a set of tires from summer to winter does not take more than one hour.
Waiting time can be increased by factors that do not affect the immediate speed of the specialist's work - this is the queue and customer requirements.
Installation of summer tires is more difficult for the master than winter tires. This is argued by the increased rigidity of the rubber. Dense sidewalls are difficult to put on discs, which requires great physical effort.
This difference will not be noticeable to the user. Experienced technicians know how to properly place a product on the machine for fast assembly.
To facilitate the process of changing tires and speed up service, you can foresee a few points in advance and not wait in a huge queue.
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In the 21st century, you have to live intensively, because you need to get to a lot of places in a day and realize a lot of your plans. Today, when a person has learned to appreciate every minute, tire fitting by appointment in Moscow is becoming an extremely popular service. Many services work exactly according to such a system, scheduling the employment of masters in advance. This makes it possible to correctly distribute the workload of the tire service, without creating queues, without “hands-on work” and downtime.
For the client, the advantages of pre-booking are the following points:
Tire fitting by appointment is especially relevant when it comes to the services of a mobile point. There is no need to rush anywhere - the mobile team will arrive at the specified place when the client needs it. All necessary procedures will be carried out or a seasonal tire change will be organized. This can happen while you, for example, are in the office or relaxing at home, playing with children in the yard. The team will professionally carry out all the work, but you will not need to take any action - you will only need to provide access to the car, and then accept the work and pay for the services of the masters. The seasonal storage service we offer is also extremely convenient, which allows you to seriously save time and space in your apartment or garage. The tires will be transported to a location that maintains the optimum temperature and humidity for them and will be returned when needed again.
Let the operator know the time and date that is convenient for you. If they are busy, the nearest free "window" will be offered or you can choose another date that is also suitable for you. In any case, you won't have to wait long.
In a situation where the client is satisfied with everything, the application will be accepted - you will be confirmed the time and place of the visit. You need to be ready to provide the operator with such data as the reason for the appeal, the make and model of the car, and possibly answer other similar questions.
In any case, it is better to come to the tire shop in advance and be sure to inform the staff that you have arrived. If you are going to make a seasonal change of tires, you should make sure that, firstly, they are available, and, secondly, they are available for installation - in this case, everything will go smoothly and as quickly as possible.
However, it should be noted that any operations with tires and rims require a certain time, and are not performed at the wave of a magician's hand. You should not push the masters - you just need to “carve out” a certain time in your schedule. In any case, the procedure will take more than half an hour and you need to count on it. If you are in a hurry, just check how long the procedure should take when you apply.
There are situations when the record has already been created, but for some reason the client cannot arrive at the specified time for tire fitting. In this case, you must definitely call back and reschedule the appointment so that the masters do not remain without work for the time allotted for your car.
If the car owner needs tire fitting services, do not postpone the appointment for tomorrow.