A vehicle is a long-term commitment, don’t you agree? Just like every relationship in your life, it is important that you nurture it and take good care of it. In vehicle terms, we call it maintenance. As a part of this maintenance schedule, you may need to change the shocks and struts after a particular time or when they get damaged.
This is important because damaged or worn-out struts and shocks can reduce fuel economy, make the ride very uncomfortable (bumpy). While almost everyone agrees on this one, there’s some debate and confusion about the aftermath, specifically pertaining to the alignment. When you change wheels/tires, you align the car. But, when you replace struts, should you realign the car? We shall answer your question now.
Do I need an alignment after replacing struts?
We can give you a generalized answer but we want to be clear. So, we will get into the details.
When you replace shocks, you can do away with alignment because it is not needed. But struts are different. They are an integral part of the suspension. This is why, the general advice is that you check the alignment after replacement and do the needful accordingly.
In some cases, you may not need to bother even with struts. It totally depends on your suspension.
Another thing to note here is that the need for alignment also depends on which struts you are replacing. If you are only changing the rear ones, you can ignore alignment. If you are changing all or only the front ones, it is more likely that you will need an alignment.
Now, let’s take a look at scenarios when you absolutely have to check the alignment:
- If the manufacturer recommends it (you can check the owner’s manual)
- If you modified the suspension in any way
- If you changed the tires as well
The best thing to do would be to go through the repair information of your vehicle before taking a decision. If you aren’t able to find the information you need, you can head over to a dealership and ask them. Otherwise, we advise that you trust a professional to replace the struts for you. Professional mechanics usually know when an alignment is warranted and will do the needful for you.
BONUS – When should you go for an alignment?
Whether or not you get the tires, shocks, or struts replaced, it is crucial to check the alignment every now and then. Wheel alignment is actually a major part of vehicle maintenance. Experts recommend that you do it annually under normal circumstances. Otherwise, if your vehicle was involved in a collision accident, you will need to get it checked.
Depending on the conditions in which you drive your car, you may start seeing signs that you need an alignment. Some of them are:
- The steering feels off
- Car tends to pull to one side
- The tire is worn-out
If you see any or all of these signs, your car almost surely needs to be realigned.
There you go! This was our take on a very confusing topic. We hope the doubts have disappeared now. If there’s anything else you’d like to ask us, please feel free to comment.