The person who changed my tires told me that I should have the allignment checked. What exactly does this mean? Is this something I can do on my own? If not, how much labor would it take for an experienced mechanic to complete it?
It is very advisable to have your alignment checked after tire replacement. Wheel alignment refers to the adjustments made to the wheels so that they are in proper angular relationship with the suspension and the ground. Wheels that are out of proper alignment not only affect vehicle control, but also increase tire wear. In your case, the measured wheel angles are camber, caster, and toe-in.
Getting a proper wheel alignment is a very exacting process, and should only be performed by someone/shop with necessary alignment machines and equipment. I highly doubt that you have an alignment rack and computer in your garage, so I really advise you to take you vehicle to a reputable alignment shop in your area.
Alignment charge is usually done by the work, rather than per hour labor. Depending on your locality, you may want to check around. In my area, the lowest 4-wheel alignment is $49 (one-time) and $159 (lifetime alignment).
Saturday, January 10th, 2009 AT 3:48 AM