Yes, to all of that. Broken tire belts are more common when the tread has neared the end of its life. Misalignment shows up in three ways. One is the car will pull or drift to one side when you let go of the steering wheel. A little drift is to be expected, but you should be able to let go of the steering wheel for a good quarter mile before a correction is needed. The next clue is the steering wheel is no longer centered. This can be confusing because we're looking for a steering wheel that is off to one side when the car is freely going straight as opposed to it's off-center because you're tugging it back when the car is pulling to one side on its own.
Those things show up right away. The third thing is abnormal tire wear patterns. That takes a while to show up. Your alignment specialist will "read" the wear patterns to get a clue of what to look for. A broken belt doesn't always cause a bumping feeling or steering wheel shimmy. It can also cause a pull. In most cases the car will pull the other way when the two front tires are switched side-to-side. Every once in a while we'll get one where the car goes straight after switching the tires. When a front-wheel-drive car pulls to the left due to a tire pull, during acceleration, it will usually pull to the right under moderate to hard braking. The same thing can be caused by an alignment that's changing due to worn rubber control arm bushings, but the tire pull comes on pretty quickly, as in it wasn't there two days ago. Worn bushings cause symptoms that gradually get worse over weeks and months, and will often include rattles and clunks over bumps.
Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 AT 11:36 PM