How Much Does An Alignment Cost?
Have you noticed anything wrong with your car? Like how your tires wear out, showing more signs of usage in the outside edges? Or maybe you’ve noticed how your car keeps drifting to one side of the road or your steering wheel won’t stay in the center, even when you think you’re driving straight? Does your steering wheel keep vibrating?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then it’s probably time you get an alignment. So how much do alignments usually cost?
Average Cost of Alignment
Wheel alignment, or also known as tire alignment, refers to adjusting parts of a vehicle’s suspension and steering, making sure all of them are lined up right.
Alignment is a car maintenance service that aims to ensure that the angles of the suspension – the advanced system which connects your vehicle to its wheels – are at optimal and are set to the condition recommended by the manufacturer.
See, through wheel alignment, your tires can perform properly on the road. It can improve handling and can help you drive straight or turn corners with ease. In addition to making your vehicle work more smoothly and making it safer, an alignment could potentially improve your fuel consumption. And it is worth noting that not having proper auto alignment could impact the quality of your ride and could wear your tires down, which eventually could cost you more to repair or replace them.
To give you an idea, a tire replacement costs from $400 to $1,800 or more for four tires. That’s $50 to $200 each for a standard car, or from $50 to $350 for pickup trucks and SUVs. While the typical alignment cost is from $50 to $220 only.
What are Included
So what is included in the average car alignment price? Well, before the actual procedure, your auto care provider will first inspect the steering and suspension system. Then, your car will be placed on an alignment rack, mounted and connected with sensors. After everything is set-up, the following angles will be adjusted:
- Camber: This is the inward or outward angle of your tires when you view it from the front. See, if your tires are too inward or outward, or known as negative and positive camber, they need to be properly adjusted. And the parts that contribute to this kind of misalignment are worn bearings, wheel-suspension, and ball joints.
- Toe: Toe alignment is how your tires turn inward or outward when you view your vehicle from above. To give you an idea, imagine looking at your feet. When you angle your feet inward toward your body this is called toe-in alignment, while when they are angled outward this is toe-out. Both cases require adjustment.
- Caster: Getting the right caster angle will help your vehicle’s steering, stability, and ability to turn corners. This kind of alignment can be distinguished through viewing the angle of your steering axis through the side of your vehicle.
Finally, to check if everything is properly aligned and all is working smoothly, your car will be taken to a road test.
Aside from the processes included, some companies offer extra steps for an alignment. For example, Kauffman Tire who offers a standard alignment for $90 to $140 is also providing their customers the choice to add $30 more for a Steering Angle CodeLink Reset. And this additional step is to ensure that the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) of your vehicle is functioning properly.
Some car models may also require additional parts, special equipment and more attention to return the steering and suspension systems to its factory specifications – which means, additional cost for you. As an example, Pep Boys offers packages for front cam or wedge adjustment for $50, rear shim adjustment for $50, and 4WD or AWD shim adjustment for $70.
Shopping for Alignment
There are many service centers and dealers which are fully able to align your tires. But prices vary from one to another. So to give you an idea, here are some of the biggest companies which offer adjustment services and their corresponding costs:
- Firestone Complete Auto Care charges around $80 to $190 for wheel alignment.
- Sears Auto Center offers $90 for a standard alignment which includes a 6-month or 6,000-mile warranty. They also offer a 1-year alignment service for $115, included with a free realignment for a year with no mileage restrictions.
- Kauffman Tire has a standard alignment cost of $90 for a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty and $140 for 36-month or 36,000-mile warranty.
- NTB charges $90 for a single alignment service. But they also offer yearly policies which include alignments, tire rotation, tore inspection, tire pressure check, and maintenance inspection with your alignment for the following prices:
1-Year Policy for $125
3-Year Policy for $180
5-Year Policy for $220
- Pep Boys offers a 3-month or 3,000-mile warranty wheel alignment for $90, 1-year or 12,000-mile warranty for $110, 3-year or 36,000-mile warranty for $140 and a lifetime warranty alignment of your tires for $180.
Factors Affecting Cost of Alignment
Of course, prices for getting an alignment vary by a car’s model, year, make, and from one shop to another. How much do alignments usually cost? It depends on a number of other factors. Now, two of the biggest factors that influence how high an average car alignment price may go are the kind of service they offer and the length of warranty it comes with.
Is it for a one-time or is it a lifetime service you are purchasing? Would you like to simply drop off your car and get the procedure done? Or would you like to keep everything maintained and well-adjusted at all time?
To give you an idea, Firestone Complete Auto Care offers a standard alignment or a one-time service for $80. Included is a 12-month or 12,000-mile limited warranty, meaning you can bring in your car if issues persist within the time or maximum miles given.
On the other hand, they offer a lifetime alignment which costs around $190. This includes a lifetime warranty on your vehicle’s alignment which means they will set alignment angles every 6,000 miles or whenever you need it, for free.
So naturally, the longer the warranty and the more frequency of car alignment service you want the higher cost you’ll have to pay. Another factor that you should consider is the type of alignment. There are two types: four-wheel and front-end. The typical alignment cost for front-end, also known as two-wheel alignment, is around $50 to $75.
But most mechanics, though more expensive, will always recommend getting all four of your wheels aligned. And a basic four-wheel alignment service is between $80 and $220.
In addition, your car’s features will affect the price of getting your wheels adjusted too. At Kauffman Tire, a standard alignment which includes a year or 12,000-mile warranty costs $90. But for cars which are lowered or has modified suspension, an alignment with the same warranty coverage is priced at $130.
Now, it is worth knowing that while one-time, single services may cost less, purchasing a longer or a lifetime warranty is actually cheaper in the long run. See, once your car leaves the factory, it will be out on the open road which exposes it to potholes, icy curbs, and different driving styles. So when that happens, maintenance for wheel alignment is necessary.
And most manufacturers recommend getting an alignment every 10,000 to 12,000 miles or at least once a year. Meaning, you would need regular appointments with your mechanic. If you’re going to be involved in a minor accident or your location has bumpy roads, then you would need one sooner. However, if you’re lucky and if you’ve really been cautious on your driving, you probably won’t need an alignment for three or four years.