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Is misalignment costing drivers more fuel and tire life?

Kal Tire encourages drivers to consider alignments to help save nearly $250/year on gas and tire wear.

As pothole season gives way to road trip season—and at a time of rising fuel prices—Kal Tire is reminding drivers of an often ignored post-winter maintenance step that could help them prevent uneven tire wear and save money: alignments.

“You can’t always tell when your vehicle is misaligned, even when the misalignment is mechanically significant,” says Mike Butcher, regional director for urban retail stores, Kal Tire.

“Drivers also don’t always realize that even a slight misalignment, resulting from pothole impact or hitting road debris, can reduce a vehicle’s tire life and fuel economy.”

How much gas can be saved by having properly aligned wheels? Vehicles with misaligned wheels can suffer a decrease in fuel efficiency by up to 7 per cent[i]. Based on research that indicates the average Canadian drives 20,000 kilometres/year[ii] on a vehicle that consumes an average of 8.9 litres of fuel per 100 km[iii], and pays fuel prices of $2.06/L[iv]—Canadian drivers could save nearly $250 on gas every year.

The reason for the impact to fuel economy is that instead of rolling freely, the tires on misaligned vehicles drag, thereby increasing the amount of energy (fuel) required to move the tire over the road surface. Every one degree a vehicle is out of alignment is equivalent to dragging the tire sideways 17.5 m per km[v], often causing uneven wear. The uneven wear is a result of when the vehicle’s tires are not pointing straight and level to the road.

“Canadians are looking for ways to stretch their dollars right now, so the money saved on fuel and getting your tires to last longer does help, but misalignment also creates potentially unsafe driving conditions because when your wheels aren’t aligned, it can sometimes cause your vehicle to pull right or left, compromising your control and handling,” says Butcher, adding depending on the severity of the misalignment, drivers can also experience vibrations and poor steering. “Getting your alignment checked at Kal Tire is a free, proactive way to way to help ensure you’re improving your mileage, tire performance and driving safety—even if you’re not noticing any signs.”

Alignment problems are often caused by hitting potholes; even hitting a single bump at an awkward angle can create alignment issues that drivers sometimes leave unchecked. A 2017 Kal Tire study found that 32 per cent of motorists with pothole damage reported their steering started pulling to one side, yet only 44 per cent whose vehicles sustained pothole damage had it fixed, with many leaving damaged undercarriages, shocks and struts. Other problems caused by potholes included:

  • vehicles vibrating, shaking or wobbling (37%)
  • damage to undercarriage (28%)
  • vehicle bouncing/swaying (22%)
  • flat or damaged tires (17%), body dents (14%), leaking fluid (4%)

“Signs like these are serious and should be attended to right away to help keep you and others safe this road trip season,” says Butcher.

Additional Media Resources are available:
Article: Do you need a wheel alignment?
Article: How can potholes damage your vehicle?
Infographic: Misalignments cost drivers more fuel and tire life
Video: Is it time for a wheel alignment?

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[i] US Environmental Protection Agency, qtd in ‘Benefits of Wheel Alignment’ by Hunter Engineering Company
[ii] 2022 Fuel Consumption Guide, Natural Resources Canada
[iii] Market Snapshot: How does Canada rank in terms of vehicle fuel economy?
[iv] Canada Gasoline Prices, 24, May 2022, Natural Resources Canada
[v] Tire Business, qtd in ‘Benefits of Wheel Alignment’ by Hunter Engineering Company

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Misalignments costing more fuel Infographic

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Pothole_01

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Pothole_02

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