3 Common Wheel Alignment Problems You’ll Encounter After Auto Mechanic School

Incorrect wheel alignment can lead to numerous challenges for drivers. A properly aligned car offers a stable and confident driving experience, while misalignment can result in issues ranging from rapid tire deterioration to potential driving hazards.

One of the core tasks you’ll frequently encounter in your career after auto mechanic school is wheel alignment. Proper wheel alignment is essential for vehicle safety, tire longevity, and an optimal driving experience. As you venture into the automotive industry head-on after your training, here are three standard wheel alignment problems you will likely face. 

1. Uneven Tire Wear

Uneven tire wear is one of the first signs that a vehicle’s wheels are not aligned properly. You might notice more wear on the inside or outside edges of the tire or even patchy wear in various areas. Patterns such as “feathering” (tires wearing out at an angle) or “heel-toe” wear (one side of the tread block wears down faster than the other) are common indicators.

A multitude of reasons can lead to uneven tire wear. It could be due to incorrect toe settings (either toe-in or toe-out), negative or positive camber (inward or outward tilt of the tire), or faulty components in the suspension system.

To fix this issue, regularly check and adjust the alignment settings. Also, keep an eye on suspension parts for wear and tear, as damaged components can throw alignment out of whack.

An auto mechanic checking a car's tires after auto mechanic training
As discovered in auto mechanic training, uneven tire wear is a sign of incorrect wheel alignment

2. Vehicle Pulling To One Side

If the car tends to veer to the left or right without steering input while driving, you’re likely dealing with an alignment problem. This symptom is annoying for the driver and poses a potential safety risk, as you discovered in auto mechanic school

A vehicle pulling to one side can result from uneven tire pressure, damaged or worn-out tires, or suspension issues. But most commonly, it’s an alignment issue related to the camber or caster settings. Camber misalignment usually causes a pull, while caster misalignment can affect the vehicle’s straight-line stability.

If you’re faced with such a scenario, check and correct the tire pressure before diving into alignment and examine the tires for damage. If these factors are ruled out, check and adjust the vehicle’s camber and caster settings.

3. Auto Mechanic School Addresses Steering Wheel Vibrations Causes 

A driver might feel a noticeable shake or vibration when holding the steering wheel, particularly at certain speeds. This can be unsettling for the driver and indicate a significant misalignment. Steering wheel vibrations often arise due to imbalanced tires or bent wheels. However, if these causes have been ruled out, a possible culprit is a misaligned front end. As you’ve learned in auto mechanic training, this is often linked to improper toe settings or damaged suspension components.

A group of auto mechanics working on a vehicle's wheels after auto mechanic training
When met with steering wheel vibrations after auto mechanic training, check the wheel balance

To tackle this problem, check the wheel balance and ensure no bent wheels. If the vibration persists, inspect the alignment, focussing on the toe settings and any potential damage to the suspension system.

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