We all know how important the brakes are for our vehicles because we value being able to stop whenever we need to stop and make sure that everyone around us is safe. Meanwhile, making sure that the wheels are properly aligned is also very important for various reasons that every driver must know. But does wheel alignment actually have an effect on how your brakes feel while you are driving?
Wheel alignment can affect your brakes in a negative way. That is because wheels that are not properly aligned will make it more difficult for the brakes to stop the vehicle evenly. Your tires will not be in a continuous friction position that is optimum for allowing the car to brake properly instead of having minimal friction.
Because your brakes are basically attached to the wheels, they are also affected when the wheels are not properly aligned. This is why it is important for you to make sure that you have your wheel alignment checked from time to time so that you will see the difference in how effective and effortless ride quality and braking would be if the wheels are actually aligned.
Does alignment affect brakes?
One of the most important things you need to know regarding your car is that it is vital that you make sure that you protect your brakes and that the brakes are performing properly. The reason is that your brakes are necessary for whenever you want to make sure that the car can stop on a dime safely. Of course, because of how important the brakes are, you need to make sure that they are performing at their best because poor brake performance can oftentimes lead to safety issues and to your brakes wearing out faster.
That said, one of the things that you need to know in relation to your wheels is that they may also misalign from time to time through regular use. Now, you might be wondering why we are talking about wheel alignment here when we started off with brakes, but we will get to our point in a short while.
When we talk about proper wheel alignment, we are referring to how your wheels are supposed to be aligned in a way that they are balanced. All of the wheels should be properly aligned in the sense that they are facing in front. Now, wheel alignment can be affected by regular daily driving, especially when you make sharp turns or when you find yourself on bumpy roads, or if you end up driving on potholes.
Your wheels can get misaligned without you even knowing. This happens gradually as an effect of many different things that can easily change the wheels’ alignment. There are times when you can feel that your wheels are not aligned properly, such as when one wheel is actually tilting towards the left or right. You will notice this when you take your hands off the steering wheel, and your car will drift a bit to the left or the right depending on where the misaligned wheel or wheels are facing.
So, if your wheels are misaligned, what does this mean for your brakes? Are your brakes also affected when you have a bad wheel alignment?
Plainly speaking, yes, your brakes will also be affected when your wheels are not properly aligned. And this goes back to the fact that alignment is important when it comes to how you properly control your car.
When you are making sudden turns to the left or the right, depending on what the situation calls for, you are relying a lot on your tires to take you in that direction. There are instances where the decision to turn happens in a split second, especially when it comes to trying to avoid collisions. Without the ability to turn in a hurry, you are putting a lot of people in the car and on the road at risk.
So, going back to wheel alignment, if your wheels aren’t able to turn properly because the wheels are not aligned properly, this can affect your braking in a negative way. Bad wheel alignment can instantly make it more difficult for you to make quick turns because one wheel may be facing the other direction ever so slightly. As such, when you try to brake when the wheels are not aligned, especially when you are turning, the brake pads might not be applied to the wheels using the same pressure.
What happens in such a situation is that your car can possibly spin out of control due to how one side might not be receiving the same force from the brake pads as the other. That is how dangerous bad alignment can be when it comes to your brakes.
But, to make things a bit easier for you to understand, let us look at how the brakes work.
Your car has brakes on all four of its wheels even though you are not driving a 4×4 vehicle. That is because the brakes need to be applied in all of the wheels for the car to stop moving without putting more pressure on either the front or the rear tires when you are braking. Most of the time, the front brakes provide more stopping power because of how most of the weight is thrown to the front whenever you are braking.
As you press down on your brake pedal, what happens is that brake fluid will travel through the system to deliver the pressure you applied to the pedal to the brake pads. It is this pressure that will allow the pads to move and then stop the rotors on the wheels from moving. And the brake system is engineered in such a way that it will allow the brake fluid to be evenly distributed throughout all of the four wheels so that all of the brakes will apply the same pressure.
However, if your wheels are not aligned properly, the pressure delivered to the brake pads might not be equal. If there are wheels that receive more pressure than the others, the balance might be disrupted, and you will see yourself braking unevenly. This is why your vehicle may end up spinning as a result of bad alignment.
Can bad alignment cause uneven brake wear?
While we were talking about the worst thing that can happen if your wheel is not properly aligned and you apply your brakes, it is also worth talking about how bad alignment can affect the health of the brakes.
Even if you do not end up in an accident due to bad alignment, your brakes can also end up wearing out faster. And we have to go back to our discussion on pressure when it comes to understanding why your brakes can end up wearing out faster if your wheels are not aligned.
Due to how uneven the pressure on the brakes is when the wheels are not aligned, some of the brake pads might be receiving more pressure than the others. This will cause them to work harder compared to the other brakes, and that may end up causing these brake pads to wear out faster.
So, even if you might not end up in an accident due to bad wheel alignment, you still don’t want to end up with brakes that wear out quite quickly just because your wheels were not properly aligned.
What are the signs of a bad alignment?
If you want to know whether or not you have bad wheel alignment without taking your car to the shop, here are some things to look out for:
- Some tires may end up wearing out faster than the others precisely because of how the weight distribution and the friction won’t be the same. Tires that are misaligned are more likely to wear out in terms of their treading because they are likely to experience more friction than the properly aligned tires. The same can be said about tires that are getting the brunt of the vehicle’s weight.
- A crooked steering wheel can also be a sign of misaligned tires. Most steering wheels are designed to be in a neutral position because the tires are supposed to go back to their neutral aligned positions when they are not turning. So, if your steering wheel is tilting to one side a bit, that could mean that a tire is tilting to that side.
- Noisy steering can also be a good sign that could point to the possibility of a bad alignment in your wheels. That is because of the friction that is caused in the wheels whenever you steer the car in certain directions.
- If you try to take your hand off the wheel while you are driving, you might notice that the car is pulling to the left or right a bit, even if you are not steering. This could mean that the wheels are properly tilting over to the left or right, depending on how badly misaligned they are.