An alignment is important after any major modification or replacement to the suspension system. Replacing the shock is a major modification to the suspension and, therefore, might affect the alignment of the vehicle’s wheels, especially when the process is not done perfectly.
Do I need an alignment after replacing shocks? Manufacturers have made it mandatory to have an alignment done whenever the suspension system components are replaced or modified. Why? The suspension has a direct influence on the alignment of the wheels.
An alignment ensures that the angle of the vehicle’s wheels meets the manufacturer’s specifications.
A wheel alignment after such replacement helps prevent problems arising from a wheel with a wrong angle. Once the wheel is not aligned, the tires will wear unevenly and faster. The handling of the vehicle will also be poor.
Wheel alignment is adjusting the wheel’s angles to meet the manufacturer’s specified recommendation. It ensures the tire does not wear unevenly and the vehicle can move steadily and straight.
Wheel alignment also ensures that the vehicle does not swerve from right to left when driving due to the condition of the wheel angle.
How, then, is a wheel alignment done? Professionals with the right tools usually carry out a wheel alignment. First, the mechanic must determine if the vehicle needs an alignment.
Without the help of a professional, you can determine if your vehicle needs alignment. If the car pulls to one side, tires wear unevenly, the steering wheel is off-centered, etc, then the wheel needs alignment.
Professionals measure the wheel alignment with a machine and determine the precise adjustment needed. Then they adjust each wheel’s camber, caster, and toe to achieve the manufacturer’s recommended accurate adjustment.
It is possible to align the wheels yourself, but for the sake of accuracy and minimizing the risk of further damages, we advise that you give a professional.
The answer is yes, as long as the manufacturer recommends an alignment after such replacement. The reason for this is to ensure that the wheel’s angle remains at the manufacturer’s specified recommendation.
Generally, we advise that you have an alignment done on your vehicle after any significant change to a part of the suspension, like the shocks.
You must familiarize yourself with various manufacturer recommendations, especially when replacing parts of the vehicle. Most vehicles recommend that any modification to the suspension system must be followed by proper alignment.
The alignment must be done on the wheels to replace the shock, not necessarily all the wheels. For instance, replacing rear shocks must be followed by an alignment on the rear wheels.
Why do manufacturers make this recommended? The suspension ensures that the four tires work together and move in the same direction. Once any part of the suspension moves out of place or is damaged, it will affect the wheels’ direction, causing misalignment.
Now that you understand the answer to “Should I get an alignment after new shocks?” You need to know that not all vehicle manufacturers recommend an alignment after a shock replacement. However, this should not stop you from carrying out a wheel alignment after the replacement.
Yes, shocks can affect the alignment if it is bad and has become worn or loose. In this case, it could affect the condition of the suspension system, causing an alignment problem.
The shocks not only control the vehicle’s unwanted motion but also support the vehicle’s weight. When the car has a loose shock, the suspension will experience sagging, especially at the rear side, which could lead to an alignment issue.
There are various reasons the shock of the vehicle could become loose. One factor is a worn-out shock. After using the shock for a long time, especially if you always drive on a rough road or under extreme conditions, the shock will experience wear and must be replaced.
Also, a bad replacement could cause the shock or strut to be loose, especially when you replace rear shocks.
A rear shock replacement should be done accurately; if there is any mistake, it will affect the suspension and could cause an alignment issue. It is also the most obvious to identify.
Often, experts recommend getting a wheel alignment done every 2 to 3 years or after every 6,000 miles. However, it is not a hard and fast rule. The wheel alignment is recommended even when new tires are installed.
Wheel alignment has great benefits; your tires, suspension, and steering components will last longer, and your vehicle will handle better.
Despite expert opinions, getting the wheel of your vehicle aligned rests on certain factors, such as the type and model of vehicle you drive, the frequency at which you drive your car, and what kind of roads you drive.
You can always check the manufacturer’s manual for the interval you should align your vehicle.
It will take a professional mechanic about 30 to 60 minutes to have a wheel alignment done on the vehicle. The duration of the alignment will vary depending on the type of vehicle. For instance, a four-wheel will take 60 to 90 minutes to align.
Also, other factors could contribute to how long the alignment might take, like the condition of the vehicle’s components, technician experience, and more.
Knowing if a vehicle has a correct alignment is easy because inaccurate alignment comes with some obvious signs. Some are visible on the vehicle’s structure as the car pulls to one side.
Below are some ways to tell if there is a problem with the vehicle’s alignment accuracy.
1. Vehicle pulling to the left or right while driving straight
2. The steering wheel is off center
3. The car or steering wheel is shaking
4. Abnormal and uneven tire wear
5. Squealing sound when driving
6. Shaking steering wheel.
You can easily check your vehicle’s wheel alignment by visiting a professional who will do that for you for a little cost. However, if you do not have that money, you can also conduct some tests yourself.
Firstly, drive the vehicle with a light grip, and observe what happens with the car. While going, you will try to observe the vehicle for the signs mentioned above. If the car keeps pulling to one side while driving and you hear a squeaking sound from the wheel, you may need to have a wheel alignment done.
When faced with the question, “Do I need an alignment after replacing rear tires?” Understand that changing the vehicle’s shock can affect the condition of the suspension. Having a proper alignment does not just fix the angle of the wheels; you could also find out if the rear shock absorber replacement or the front was done right. In the alignment process, experts can properly diagnose what else could be wrong with the wheels and suspension components that may cause the variation in the wheel’s angle.