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For most drivers, $50 wouldn't even be enough for a tank of petrol. But, what if we told you that with the same amount, you can make your car better and safer?

Category: Car Maintenance Advice

No, I'm not trying to sell you a magical additive that claims to make your car feel like it has a huge turbocharger installed. What we are discussing today, is wheel alignment. Starting from as low as $50 (depending on the type of car you drive), you can make your car better and safer to drive.

Wheel alignment as its name suggests, is a procedure to correct how the angle of which your car's wheels contacts the road surface. Think of it like a visit to the chiropractor, but for your car. While it isn't something that needs to be done regularly (once in two years or so), your car's wheel alignment might be off if you frequently drive over potholes at speed, or had one too many brush with kerbs.

Makes your car drive better and safer

The importance of alignment can be observed from the lengths race teams go to perfect it
Misaligned wheels can make your car difficult or even dangerous to drive - visualise this, your steering is pointed straight, but the wheels of your car are all pointing off ever so slightly, affecting your car's ability to travel straight and handle consistently.

The common symptoms of a car with poor wheel alignment include off-centre steering when driving straight, car pulling to a side, steering wheel vibration and uneven tyre tread wear. These will not only negatively affect your driving experience, but in extreme cases, can even be a safety hazard.

Wheel alignment can greatly affect the handling characteristics of your car - that's why race teams spend considerable effort to perfect their race car's alignment.
Keeps tyre wear even, prolonging lifespan

This Honda Prelude has substantial negative camber dialed in
When you encounter uneven tyre wear, the prime suspect is often wheel alignment. There are three main components to be checked and adjusted during a wheel alignment - camber, toe and castor.

Camber refers to the tilt of the car's wheel when viewed from the front or rear of the car. If the top of the wheel tilts outwards, it has a positive camber, if it tilts inwards, then the wheel has a negative camber. Excessive camber can result in uneven wear between the inner and outer tread of the tyre.

Toe refers to the tilt of the car's wheel when viewed from above the car. Imagine both left and right wheels pointing (steering) inwards and you get toe-in, both wheels pointing out will be a toe-out setting. Poor toe alignment will also cause excessive wear on your car's tyres

Alignment settings such as excessive negative camber can result in uneven tyre wear
Castor refers to the angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side of the car. If the axis tilts towards the centre of the car (like what you see on some motorcycles), the castor angle is positive, while the opposite is true. While castor affects the handling characteristics of your car, it doesn't contribute to much tyre wear issues.

Trust us, replacing a new set of tyres prematurely will surely incur much more costs than that of getting your wheels properly aligned.
Ensures that your car will pass a vehicle inspection

Heading to an inspection? Better get your car's alignment checked
In case you didn't already know, wheel alignment is one of the checks that are being conducted for compliance during periodic vehicle inspections here.

The fact that it is checked during roadworthiness inspection here and in other countries, clearly shows the significance of wheel alignment in the safety of all cars. When parameters such as the toe and camber are out of spec, the handling characteristic of the car will be adversely affected.

If you suspect that your car's wheel alignment is off, you should get it sorted before going to the periodic inspection. This way you can save the hassle and added cost of a re-inspection. At such an affordable price point, there's no harm in getting your wheel alignment checked from time to time.
Simple, quick and effective

Laser alignment racks allow shops to perform effective and quick wheel alignment services
These days, there are more workshops that are capable of providing accurate wheel alignment services. Shops with laser alignment racks are also much more common than in the past.

So, how much exactly does a wheel alignment cost? Well, the cost involved is also much more affordable these days - getting your car's wheels aligned will usually cost you around $50 to $100, depending on the type of car, and it can usually be completed in 30 minutes or so. There really is no reason for you to skimp on this simple, yet important service.
Here are some articles you might be interested in

Here's everything you need to know about periodic vehicle inspections

When do you need to change your car's tyres?

Tyre workshops in Singapore that offers free lifetime tyre rotation

How to drive safely on the roads in Singapore

Need to get your wheel alignment sorted out? Check out this list of wheel alignment services starting from $50 now!

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