The layman might not always realize this, but the wheels of a car are not in fact perfectly straight as they appear to the naked eye. They have a slight camber, and angle which can be measured as to how the wheels are aligned to the frame of the vehicle and to each other. They also have a proper position to be in, in regards to where they sit inside the wheel well. If those positions were fixed and rigid, road stress would break the axle. Shocks and springs allow the wheels to move with each bump in the road, unfortunately, that movement also allows the wheels to be moved out of position over time and they need to be adjusted back to where they are intended to be.
There are actually two reasons your Honda may need the wheels to be realigned. The first, as already mentioned, is just how the wheels get positioned out of place over time. That’s how they were designed to work as a better solution to regular road stress than having to replace parts. The other cause is more immediate. A direct incident such as running over a large pothole, hitting unavoidable trash left on a road, or a minor parking lot accident can cause excessive stress absorbed by the alignment which is then knocked out of place. That’s actually a good thing. Alignment service is inexpensive compared to what it might cost to replace parts which would take the brunt of such regular stresses. More importantly, such direct shocks aren’t transferred through the frame to the driver and passengers.
The most common, and first noticed sign of a vehicle being out of alignment is how it will pull when driving with the steering wheel centered, veer to either the left or right. It’s not something you can see, it has to be measured using specialty alignment tools, but one or more of the wheels is out of place by perhaps a millimeter or less. It might not seem like much, but at 65 MPH everything is exaggerated, one millimeter per the amount of ground you traverse adds up quickly. A symptom you likely won’t notice as easily is poor gas mileage, as the engine is working harder to push the car forward when the wheels aren’t properly placed. Eventually, odd vibrations and sounds will begin to happen, making for a very uncomfortable drive.
Come by Scott Robinson Honda in Torrance, CA, which also serves the Redondo Beach, Carson, Gardena, and Long Beach areas, for alignment services or any other maintenance and repairs your car might need. Our professionally trained technicians are always knowledgeable and courteous, ready to get your car safely back on the road.