How Much Does a Wheel Alignment Cost in 2023?
If your car is starting to drift while on the road, it may be time for a wheel alignment. Keeping your wheels properly aligned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial for keeping your tires in good shape, as well as protecting your suspension and improving fuel economy. Let’s take a look at how much you’ll pay to get your wheels aligned.
Why Is Wheel Alignment Important?
Wheel alignment is a procedure where a qualified automotive technician will adjust the angles of your vehicle’s wheels according to the manufacturer’s specifications. There are three main ways technicians measure these angles: toe, caster, and camber.
“Toe” refers to the direction that your tires point, which is the most important angle for techs to adjust. Thankfully, it’s also the easiest to adjust. Keeping the toe correct will help your vehicle steer straighter, minimizing the number of slight side-to-side adjustments you make while driving. “Toe in” means your tires point inward, while “toe out” means the tires point outward and away from each other.
“Caster” refers to the angle of your steering axis or front suspension. Caster affects how your car steers, but not as much as toe. “Positive caster” is the default, where your steering axis is pointed back a few degrees to help your steering wheel return to its default position when steering. “Negative caster” is when your steering axis is off, most commonly because of a collision.
“Camber” describes whether your wheels lean in or out compared to the flat surface of the road. If your camber is off, it can make your tires prematurely wear at the edges. “Positive camber” means your tires lean out, while “negative” camber means the tires lean inward toward each other.
How Much Does a Wheel Alignment Cost?
Wheel alignments are among the simpler car maintenance procedures, so they don’t cost very much. Many shops offer alignment checks for free, but the alignment itself usually starts around $70–$100. There’s little variance in the prices, but rural areas tend to charge less for the same job as a shop in an urban area.
There are also a few other factors that impact how much your alignment might cost. Let’s check out a few of those and how they’ll impact you.
What Affects Alignment Price?
- Digital or Manual Alignment: a digital alignment will cost more but is far more precise than a manual alignment. If you opt for a digital alignment, you won’t have to align your wheels as quickly. Manual alignments can run as little as $60, while digital alignments typically start at $100.
- Make and Model of Your Car: luxury car brands may cost more to align their tires because of special suspensions or steering systems, whereas some cars only require a front alignment. This can spike or lower your price, depending on your situation.
- If Your Car Is Modified: if there’s a good deal of prior work done to your vehicle, the technicians might take longer to do the job. Hourly labor costs a lot, and you could pay $15–$30 or more per hour the techs take to do the job.
How Often Do My Wheels Need to Be Aligned?
The easiest way to know if your car needs a wheel alignment is to check when its last alignment was. Generally, you need a wheel alignment every 2–3 years to keep your tires and suspension in good shape. There are a few telltale signs you can spot when it’s time to go in for a wheel alignment, so keep a weather eye out for one or more of the following signs.
- Your steering wheel pulls to the left or right. When your wheels are poorly aligned, you’ll have trouble keeping the steering wheel straight.
- Your steering wheel is off center. This happens when your caster is off, and you’ll have trouble steering your vehicle.
- Your tires are wearing out prematurely. Poor wheel alignment puts unnatural wear and tear on your tires, meaning you have to replace them sooner than usual.
If your car has been in a collision of any kind since its last wheel alignment, you should take it in as soon as possible because cars can develop poor alignment issues after accidents.
Wheel alignments are among the simplest types of maintenance that cars need, but it serves a critical function by keeping the tires and steering system straight. If you’re having trouble driving straight, especially at high speeds, you should check if it’s time for an alignment.
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Featured Image Credit: Christina Telep, Unsplash