Wheel alignment normally takes around an hour to be completed whether it’s a 2WD or 4WD. Of course, that depends on factors like the type of alignment and vehicle size. However, the alignment process can take longer if any component in the suspension or the steering system is damaged and therefore requires replacement.
But beyond that, you need to keep in mind the experience of the technician and how badly the car is misaligned. Now, that is not the whole picture and if you want to know more about the alignment process, let’s get started.
Different Types of Alignment
The time taken depends strongly on what type of wheel alignment you are getting. The table below shows the time taken for different types of wheel alignment.
|Type of Alignment||Estimated Duration|
|Four Wheel Alignment||30 minutes – 01 Hour|
|Two Wheel Alignment||30 – 45 minutes|
|Toe-N-Go Alignment||15 – 20 minutes|
Next you have to know a bit about each type of alignment process to understand what can be the best choice for you.
Four Wheel Alignment
Front wheel alignment is where all four wheels of your vehicle go through the alignment process. That is both the front wheel alignment and the rear suspension adjustment take place. All the camber, toe and caster angles are adjusted on all four of the wheels.
If you are driving an AWD or 4WD then this is a really good option.
Two Wheel Alignment
Two wheel alignment is also known as the Front wheel alignment. Here the front suspension and the steering are adjusted. Along with that, the toe, camber, caster and thrust angle are also adjusted. The main purpose is to ensure that the front wheels are able to travel parallel to the car’s centre.
Now, you can also do an alignment on the rear wheels. Although you only need to do this if after inspection the front-end alignment is fine. Similar to the front-end alignment, here the technicians adjust the camber, caster and toe.
Despite the name, the time difference is not that high between four and two-wheel alignment. If you drive an FWD or RWD then two-wheel alignment is a good option.
Toe-N-Go alignment is the type of adjustment where only the toe is adjusted in front of the vehicle. Here, the camber, caster and diagnostic angles are being ignored. This is not a common adjustment but technicians use it only if the alignment machines show that the toe needs to be adjusted or if only the toe can be adjusted in that vehicle.
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Factors Affecting Wheel Alignment Time
Of course, your wheel alignment depends on the type of alignment you get. But there are also other crucial factors that impact how long it is going to take to fix your wheel misalignment.
Following are some of the key factors.
Definitely, the tire alignment process duration varies by vehicle. This has to do with the tire size and the overall complexity of the vehicle.
For example, it will take longer to align the Ford f150 vehicle because of the relatively complicated suspension system when compared to Toyota Camry.
Similarly, a newer vehicle will be quicker to fix than an older vehicle. Because it is much easier to replace and work on the steering and suspension system of the newer vehicle.
Tire Wear and Tear
Tires wearing out is one of the key reasons for wheel misalignment. Normally, this impacts the wheel alignment time in the following ways
- If the mechanic has to spend a lot of time to find out the source of wheel misalignment. In that case, all the tires need to be checked and the adjustment is to be done.
- If the tires are damaged so much that it needs replacement. Then after diagnosis, the tires are to be removed and then aligned. Now, that takes a lot of time.
Damaged Suspension System
One of the main reasons for the wheel misalignment is the damaged suspension system. Now, if the suspension system is damaged, then the components have to be replaced and that takes up a lot of time. Therefore, your wheel alignment duration is directly impacted by how much the suspension system is damaged.
Damaged Steering Bush
A damaged steering bush will have a direct impact on your car’s vibration handling capacity. Overlooking it will impact your tires. Considering the severity of the problem, it is obvious to replace the steering bush first before aligning the wheels. Whenever that happens, your wheel alignment process will take more time.
Damaged Track Rods
Track rods are an integral part of your steering system where it connects the two front wheels. A damaged track rod means the two wheels will not be connected properly and lead to misalignment.
Before getting into aligning back the tires, it needs to be checked how many track rods are damaged. Because if both of the track rods are damaged, it will take much longer to align the tires.
The severity of the Misalignment
If the wheels are severely misaligned then the alignment process will take a lot of time. Check your user manual and you will find the frequency of wheel alignment. But if you do not go through the routine process or if the wheels are misaligned severely then it will take longer time to diagnose the problem and fix the misalignment.
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How Much Does It Cost To Get a Wheel Alignment?
Depending on the type of wheel alignment you will get for your vehicle,, the cost varies. The following table shows some of the expected costs for different types.
|Four Wheel Alignment||$100 – $170|
|Two Wheel Alignment||$50 – $75|
|Thrust Angle Alignment||$50 – $80|
Of course, as the table indicates the cost of wheel alignment varies. The variation is based on factors such as
- Number of Wheels
- Type and Size of the vehicle
- Age of the vehicle
- Labor cost depending on the country or state and the experience of the mechanic.
- Services such as tire balancing, fixing the suspension and steering system.
How Often Should You Get Your Wheels Aligned?
You should go for wheel alignment within every two to three years. First, you need to check your user manual if there is any recommendation for wheel alignment duration. However, if there is nothing then go to the servicing station or keep looking for the symptoms of wheel alignment. Typically, wheels are prone to misalignment after at least two years of driving.
However, if your vehicle goes through rapid jerking while driving through a curb, pothole or speed bump then get your wheels aligned as soon as possible.
How To Avoid Wheel Misalignment?
Normally, wheel misalignment happens for reasons such as damaged suspension and steering system, tires wearing out, rapid jerking on the vehicle while driving through a pothole or speed bump. There are so many factors you need to look out for if you want to avoid wheel misalignment.
Following are some of the ways to avoid wheel misalignment.
- Checking vehicle tire pressure and adjusting it to recommended PSI set by the manufacturer
- Proper vehicle modification i.e if the vehicle’s height is changed then changing the suspension as well
- Rotate your tires on a regular basis to avoid tire wearing and thus wheel alignment
- Properly lubricate with products like WD40 specialist gel lube to keep the steering and suspension component from wearing out.
- Careful driving to avoid any pothole, bumping into any curb or hitting over any speed bump.
Is Alignment the Same As Balancing?
No, wheel balancing is not the same as wheel alignment. Wheel balancing means balancing the weight of the tire/wheel combination. There are two types of balancing, static and dynamic balancing. Static balancing means balancing only on one plane whereas dynamic balancing means balancing on two planes.
Is Wheel Alignment and Tracking the Same Thing?
No, there is a slight difference between wheel alignment and tracking. Tracking is done when the cars had two adjustable front wheels and the rear wheels were fixed. So, only the two front wheels were tracked and the rear wheels could not be aligned. However, as the rear suspension became more adjustable, the wheel alignment became popular. But these days the word tracking and alignment is used quite interchangeably.
Do I Need Wheel Alignment After Getting New Tires?
Yes, you need to perform wheel alignment after getting new tires. This will help to ensure that your new tires get the most mileage and are not prone to wearing out. However, always keep in mind to ask for alignment separately as it is not part of the tire installation.
So, how long does an alignment take? Well, now the answer must be really clear to you. Keep in mind about the condition of your vehicle and the type of wheel alignment you will have because that correlates directly with the wheel alignment duration. Finally, try your best to avoid wheel misalignment through careful driving and servicing.