Does Changing Wheels Affect Alignment?(Guide)


Changing Wheels Affect Alignment

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Does Changing Wheels Affect Alignment?

Wheels are part of a vehicle’s easily alterable parts. You can change the tire size, tire radius and even use tire offset.

Once you change the tire “scrub radius,” your car’s handling will be affected.

On the other hand, if you decide to change the tire diameter, keeping the width and same rim, your tire sidewall height will change, affecting your tire stiffness.

Again, this will also affect the handling and transfer of torque to road-contact force. And if you change the wheel offset or tire size, the alignment will not be changed.

So you might be asking, does changing wheels affect alignment?

Yes. But you will need to adjust the alignment if you wish to keep the same handling with different wheel offset and tire sizes. Alignments to choose from are toe, Caster, and Camber.

During an alignment, the suspension’s Camber, toe-in, and Caster are correct.

The main focus isn’t the wheel but how it works with suspension and steering components.

When you view the wheel’s angle from a head-on position, this is Camber, measured by the degree.

Camber is regarded as positive when the wheel is angled outward and neutral if it’s vertical. On the other hand, Caster is the angle of the pivot attached to the suspension.

On turning the wheel, the pivot moves the wheel to the right or the left. Again, Toe-in is measured by an inch’s fraction, typically almost zero.

If this measurement gets off, your tires will wear unevenly.

Anytime changes or modifications are done on your wheels and deviate from the factory specifications, you screw things up big time.

Millions of design dollars are spent in engineering the automobile to guarantee a balance of performance and comfort as far as the driver is concerned.

While the driver varies between the hot rod teenager thinking the grocery getter is an Indy car and the little old lady driving to the market, the front suspension is a huge compromise.

Do You Need An Alignment After Changing Wheels?

Yes, sometimes. Several reasons might cause you to change your wheels.

For example, if your tires have been worn out unevenly, you will need to not only change them but also get an alignment.

On the other hand, if you change your wheels because you want wheels with a bigger radius, you will need an alignment.

But if you are performing a routine changing of your tires after normal wear and tear, you might not need an alignment.

And one situation that will make it necessary to go for alignment after changing the tires is if the tires you are replacing were damaged in an accident or collision.

In a collision, your tires can burst, and your suspension system gets affected, hence the need for alignment.

Changing Wheels Affect Alignment

Overall, it’s not a bad idea to get an alignment after tire replacement. But this is never obligatory.

Go to a tire service center to change your tires, and these guys will be able to tell you if you need an alignment or not.

When you get an alignment, it gets your tires back in shape. Peradventure your car wheels are not properly aligned; it’s unlikely that your car will be stable while driving.

Indeed, you will always notice that it keeps shifting to one side, forcing you to struggle with the steering to maintain your lane.

But that is far from being the only problem. Poor alignment can be a precursor for accidents, collisions, and other problems;

Therefore, anytime you repair a component attached to your vehicle wheels is a time to go for wheel alignment.

Do changing rims affect alignment?

Yes, you will need to align your car if you modify your specs from the factory specs.

While many people will argue that changing rims scarcely changes alignment geometry, nothing can be further from the truth.

Indeed, changing your rims risks changing your Camber, Caster, and toe angles with a set of new rims put on your car.

It’s not hard to understand from a simple study of basic geometry that a rim change dictates measurement changes in backspace and offset.

On changing any of these variables, you are, in effect, changing geometry. While it might not seem needful at the moment, there is a price to pay if you don’t get the alignment.

If you look at your wheels after 10-15K miles, you will regret why you didn’t get the alignment anyway.

Proper wheel alignment comes in handy as far as safe steering and handling of a vehicle are concerned.

When proper alignment is done, your tires will last longer, even as you get better mileage from your fueling.

Additionally, you will have better control of your vehicle as it will not keep darting or wandering around on the road.

Again, the steering wheel is not crooked to one side or the other but straight, and this guarantees comfort, making your turn signals self-cancel properly.

Therefore, it’s advisable to choose your professional alignment well. Go for the well-reputed ones who have years of experience on the job.

This is a safety procedure, and you don’t want to get it screwed up by some newbie mechanic who is barely learning the ropes.

Does Changing Tire Size Change Alignment?

Yes, most of the time. While changing your car tires seems like a simple task.

It’s never that simple, not when there are other issues to consider like alignments and a host of other variables that change with tire size changes.

Unfortunately, if you compare changing your tire size with installing turbo kits and other extensive modifications, the former seems a pretty straightforward affair.

But this is not so. When faced with a time to change your tires, many people will want to use the opportunity to fit larger wheels.

However, there is more to swapping tire, and wheel sizes than many of us want to believe. Indeed, it’s more than bolting on new parts.

And if not properly done, you might end up with scores of problems, with costs and bills to foot. This is not anything you want to happen on your highly-priced and valued car.

After driving your car for some time, you might want to upsize or downsize your vehicle’s tire and wheel sizes. Indeed, it goes beyond looks.

For instance, you might want larger wheels for more ground clearance if you are going off-road.

And you might also want more grip, making it necessary for larger and wider tires.

Can Changing Tires Affect Alignment?

Before upsizing or downsizing your wheels and tires, it’s advisable to pay attention to your vehicle’s original tire and wheel sizes.

The reason for this is this is that changing either of the two too much can occasion more than a harsh ride.

When you change your tire and wheel sizes too much, you will be interfering with the torque steer that the suspension works with the wheels and tires to eliminate.

And as you might expect, deviating too much from the specified sizes might change the steering and handling.

Technically, what you are doing is messing up with the suspension geometry in addition to the tire’s contact patch.

You risk steering-wheel kick-back, suspension damage, and accelerated tire wear, and failure when this happens.

The wheel and tire are extensions of the car’s suspension parts.

As the actual parts of the suspension are in contact with the road, changes to the tire size will be made to the suspension.

When wheels/tires/suspension is changed, the geometry is changed. When the geometry is changed, alignment is recommended.

And as mentioned, alignments involve Camber, toe, and Caster. Therefore, as you lower the suspension or tire changes.

It’s best to have an alignment done to ensure everything is in the right position.

Do Wider Wheels Affect Alignment?

Yes, wider tires require less negative Camber and more toe-in for them to wear evenly.

Consequently, check your toe and Camber against the spec and then adjust to the maximum recommended setting.

If you change tire sizes, you will not need to take the manufacturer’s specs too seriously because they are for normal tire size recommendations.

As long as you have deviated from the beaten path, it’s advisable to experiment by starting with zero Camber and toe.

After this, try making small decrement or increment changes and note how that affects handling and tire wear.

Once you establish what works for you, stick to that. And this should also apply to the rear tires as well.

As the adjustments are being made, sit on the driver’s seat and other equivalent weight in the appropriate seat if you normally have a passenger.

Wider tires require your Camber to be as close to zero as possible.

Does Costco Do An Alignment With New Tires?

No, not exactly. When you look at most of Costco’s tire facilities.

You will easily realize that the employees greatly want special skills required for any specialized car care and repair.

Additionally, there is a lack of the extra equipment required when performing a wheel alignment.

Indeed, Costco scarcely competes on selection. Instead, it competes on price and simplicity.

To realize this, you will only need to look at the products offered by Costco offers in its shops. It will then be easy to see that they offer fewer choices, howbeit the best ones.

For instance, buying a vacuum cleaner at Costco might only give you a choice between a Roomba, Dyson, and maybe one Hoover.

Although there are many more options available, what you find at Costco is mostly the best rated. And these will always be competitively priced.

But we were talking about tires and wheel alignment!

It’s unlikely that Costco has any plans of starting wheel alignment in the near future.

This is because of the need for specialized knowledge and equipment required, in addition to the introduction of unwanted complexities.

Usually, alignment systems are anything but cheap. All the same, one alignment per day for six days/week will quickly pay off the alignment system in about one year.

Therefore, Costco’s reluctance to introduce alignment in its outlets is based on something else, not the investment cost.

Come to think of it, if they only do 3-5 alignments per week for seven days, this would translate into pure profit after about six months.

At six months, the capital of the alignment system would be recovered.

Relationship Between Tire/Wheel Size And Alignment

Changing wheel size/offset will affect the settings as they are. This is because your car’s wheels are aligned to the vehicle.

This depends on the suspension design. And the suspension design is designed for a specific size and offset tire/rim combination coupled with specific handling characteristics. 

Depending on the design, alignment adjustments might fail to compensate for the tire/wheel size changes.

Consider it this way; a change in tire/wheel size is a change in the suspension. And suspension changes will require an alignment adjustment.

Again, even if you change the tire diameter and then keep the same tire width and even the same rim, still.

The tire sidewall height will have changed, and this will ultimately affect the tire stiffness.

When this happens, the handling and the transfer of transmission torque to road-contact force is altered.

On the other hand, the handling will also be altered if the tire width is changed, affecting your tire stiffness.

While changing tire size will not change the alignment per se, it will change the handling. And you know handling depends on the alignment and the tire, among other factors.

This means that there is no way you will change the wheel size and keep the same handling unless you change the alignment like Caster, toe, and Camber.

Conclusion

Changing wheels affect alignment, but not directly.

Since wheels are part of the suspension, changing them occasions changes in the suspension, ultimately getting an influence on your vehicle’s alignment.

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