How Much Does A Wheel Alignment Cost?

Having your wheels aligned might not be something that comes to mind when you think about your car’s regular maintenance. But you’ll need to plan for an alignment at least a few times — if not numerous times — during your car ownership.

Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, where you live and the type of alignment your car needs, you should expect to pay from $100 to $200. But some luxury car owners could pay $300 or more for a four-wheel alignment.

What is wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment, or tire alignment, is how the tires are angled onto the vehicle, maximizing contact with the road. Tire alignments impact the suspension system, so any adjustments help to ensure a smooth ride with minimal tire wear and tear.

When the wheels are out of alignment, the tires are not at the correct angles and they’re pointing in different directions. This causes uneven and accelerated tire wear. It also causes your vehicle to pull to the right or the left.

Easily correctible, a dealership service department, tire retailer, or automotive service center can straighten things out for you.

Remember that precise wheel alignment does not last for the life of your car. The potential exists for even brand-new vehicles to have a chance encounter with a curb or pothole. These impacts can cause your vehicle to fall out of alignment instantaneously. In most cases, alignment can degrade gradually and almost imperceptibly over time as components start to show wear.

What Happens During an Alignment?

When you take your car into a shop for an alignment, the technician starts by analyzing angles at three checkpoints — caster, camber and toe — by using an alignment machine and performing a visual inspection.

How Much Does A Wheel Alignment Cost
  • Caster: The angle between the steering mechanism’s upper and lower ball joints. This angle affects the vehicle’s steering so that it stays at the proper height and has more stability at higher speeds.
  • Camber: The angle between the road and the tire. Camber determines how much of the tire contacts the road and can affect how the tires wear.
  • Toe: The angle between the tires. This setting affects the wear of the tires and stability when turning.

The mechanic then compares the angles with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Some mechanics also take the vehicle on the road for a test drive to check for signs of alignment problems. Symptoms include a steering wheel that vibrates or a vehicle that veers to the left or right when the steering wheel is at rest.

After completing the analysis, the technician places the vehicle on an alignment rack and mounts targets to the wheel ends. The technician then uses the machine to adjust the caster, camber and toe until they are within the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended ranges.

Most mechanics take the vehicle out for another test drive to check the new adjustments and ensure everything functions properly.

Signs That Your Car Needs a Wheel Alignment

Aside from keeping an eye on the calendar, how can you know if your car is due for wheel alignment? In some cases, the car itself will tell you. For example:

In addition, if you check your tires and find that they appear to be worn unevenly, such as more wear on the inner or outer edge than elsewhere, that could be a sign that it’s time for wheel alignment.

How Much Does A Wheel Alignment Cost?

The national average for a complete wheel alignment service is between $50 to $168. Although, cost can vary depending on the service provider and the type of alignment. Wheel alignment should be performed once a year, but it may be required more frequently, depending on your driving style and where you drive. Potholes, gravel, and off-roading can all be hard on your alignment.

The table below shows how the average price can differ by location and make and model according to Kelley Blue Book.

Make and modelWichita, KansasLos AngelesAlbany, New York
2017 Jeep Wrangler$137-$161.$148-$174.$142-$165.
2017 Infiniti Q70$159-$187.$170-$200.$163-$191.
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe$138-$162.$149-$175.$143-$167.
2017 Ford F150$142-$166.$154-$180.$146-$172.
2017 Lexus LS$163-$191.$175-$205.$167-$197.
2017 Land Rover Range Rover$254-$298.$265-$311.$258-$302.

Some shops offer free alignment checks if you’re already having work done, but all mechanics will charge for the actual alignment.

Factors That Impact Alignment Cost

The cost of an alignment depends on several factors:

  • The number of wheels. A front-end alignment, which involves only the two wheels on the front of the car, typically costs anywhere from $50 to $75. Four-wheel alignments cost more, usually $100 to $175.
  • Type of car. If your model requires specialized equipment, has a design that makes the job more difficult and time-consuming or is a luxury vehicle, service will cost more.
  • Extra services. Services like tire balancing or car suspension repairs, which the mechanic might need to complete before the alignment, increase the cost of the alignment.
  • Local labor costs. The cost of alignment depends on your location and can also vary from mechanic to mechanic.
  • Alignment packages. Some automotive shops, including Pepboys and Firestone, offer lifetime alignment service packages. In this case, you will receive alignments every six months or 6,000 miles for a single up-front cost.

How Often Do I Need Wheel Alignment?

You should get your car’s alignment checked every six months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first. Don’t go more than 10,000 miles without an alignment.

Have your tires rotated? Have the alignment checked.

Having a tire (or more than one tire) replaced? An alignment is necessary to make sure the tires wear evenly.

With a proper alignment, you’ll save money in the long run since you’re not replacing tires prematurely and you can help avert other issues that can crop up with the steering or suspension.

The bottom line

If getting an alignment seems expensive, keep in mind that skipping it could end up being more expensive. Not doing this preventative maintenance means you’ll need to replace tires more frequently, and driving with misaligned tires could also wear out components like your suspension. If you spend about a hundred dollars on tire alignment every year, you can end up saving a lot more on costly repairs.