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How Much Does A Tire Alignment Cost? | Bankrate

The number of wheels: A front-end alignment, which involves only the two wheels on the front of the car, typically costs anywhere from $50 to $75 . Four-wheel alignments cost more, usually $100 to $168
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City State Expected price New York New York $138 to $168 Los Angeles California $119 to $140 Chicago Illinois $138 to $162 Dallas Texas $109 to $128 Orlando Florida $121 to $143 Atlanta Georgia $126 to $148 Richmond Virginia $126 to $148 Phoenix Arizona $126 to $148 Philadelphia Pennsylvania $135 to $159 Charlotte North Carolina $125 to $147

What happens during an alignment?

When you take your car into a shop for an alignment, the technician starts by analyzing angles at three checkpoints — caster, camber and toe — by using an alignment machine and performing a visual inspection.

  • Caster is the angle between the steering mechanism’s upper and lower ball joints. This angle affects the vehicle’s steering so that it stays at the proper height and has more stability at higher speeds.
  • Camber is the angle between the road and the tire. This determines how much of the tire comes in contact with the road and can affect how the tires wear.
  • Toe is the angle between the tires. This setting affects the wear of the tires and stability when turning.

Some mechanics also take the vehicle on the road for a test drive to check for signs of alignment problems, like a steering wheel that vibrates or a vehicle that veers to the left or right when the steering wheel is in a resting position.

The mechanic then compares the angles with the manufacturer’s recommendations for best performance.

After completing the analysis, the technician places the vehicle on an alignment rack and mounts what are called targets to the wheel ends. The technician then uses the machine to adjust the caster, camber and toe until they are within the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended ranges.

Most mechanics take the vehicle out for another test drive to check the new adjustments to make sure everything functions properly.

Why vehicle alignment matters

Regularly adjusting your vehicle’s alignment offers several benefits that save you time, give you a smoother ride and keep you safer on the road.

Properly aligned tires maintain better contact with the road’s surface by extending the life of your tires and reducing skidding on slick roads. This also reduces rolling resistance and better absorbs road shock, resulting in improved gas mileage and a smoother ride on paved surfaces.

During the alignment, your mechanic may discover worn suspension parts, giving you an opportunity to replace them before they turn into a costly or dangerous mechanical problem that takes your car off the road for an extended period.

Getting your alignment

You can get an alignment done at any local mechanic or auto repair center. If you don’t have a relationship with a mechanic, call around for quotes or use resources like Kelley Blue Book to compare prices in your area.

While you should call ahead for an appointment, the wheel alignment itself should take only about an hour. With that said, the process could take longer if the mechanic finds any underlying issues or needs to replace additional components.

The bottom line

If getting an alignment seems expensive, remember that it could ultimately be more expensive to skip it. Forgoing this preventative maintenance means you’ll have to replace the tires more frequently and driving with unaligned tires could also wear out components like your suspension. Spending the hundred or so dollars each year on tire alignment could end up saving you much more in costly repairs.

Learn more

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