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How Long Does An Alignment Take?

Whether you’re twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your alignment to be done, or wondering how much time you’ll need to set aside, we’ll give you a good idea of what you can expect.

How Long Does An Alignment Take?

A basic alignment check usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour, while a more comprehensive alignment adjustment can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. If you have regular alignments performed, you’re more likely not to need more involved work that takes longer.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the factors that can impact how long it takes to complete an alignment. We’ll cover everything from the type of alignment being performed to the condition of your tires and suspension. Plus, I’ll give you some general time estimates for both a basic alignment check and a more comprehensive alignment.

Let’s take a closer look.

Wheel Alignment Report Example
Wheel Alignment Report Example

Importance Of Wheel Alignment

When we talk about getting an alignment for our vehicle, we’re referring to adjusting the wheels’ angles so that they’re properly aligned with each other and the road. This involves making adjustments to the suspension system, including the camber, caster, and toe angles, to ensure that everything is aligned correctly.

So why is getting an alignment so important? When your wheels aren’t correctly aligned, it can cause several issues. For one thing, it can lead to uneven tire wear, which can shorten the lifespan of your tires and make your vehicle less safe to drive. It can also cause your car or truck to pull to one side or the other, which can be annoying and potentially dangerous if you’re not able to maintain control.

Factors That Affect How Long An Alignment Takes

The type of alignment you need can have a major impact on how long it takes. If you’re just getting a quick alignment check to make sure everything’s good, it’ll only take about 30 minutes to an hour. But if you need more comprehensive adjustments, like if your alignment is out of whack or your tires are worn out, it can take longer. You’re probably looking at 1 to 3 hours for a more thorough alignment.

Your tires and suspension condition can also make a difference in how long it takes. If your tires are beaten up or damaged, getting everything sorted may take a bit more time. Plus, if your suspension is messed up, the alignment process can get complicated and drag on.

what is tire alignment
Wheel Alignment Example

The experience of the technician doing the alignment matters too. An expert tech can usually do the job faster and more efficiently than a less experienced one.

Finally, the availability of equipment and other tools can also play a role in how long the alignment takes. If the shop is slammed or they’re missing a crucial piece of equipment, it could take longer to get your alignment done.

How Long An Alignment “Check” Takes

A basic alignment check is a quick inspection to see if everything is good with your tires and suspension. During the check, the technician will look for signs of wear or damage and make sure everything’s in its proper place.

The whole process is pretty straightforward and doesn’t take too long. You’re looking at about 30 minutes to an hour for a basic alignment check. That’s not too bad, right? Plus, it’s a good way to catch potential issues before they become bigger problems.

Getting a basic alignment check done is especially important if you’re experiencing any weird vibrations or handling issues while driving. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your car’s safety and performance.

inside tire wear
Inside Tire Wear Example

How Long An Alignment “Adjustment” Takes

If an alignment “check” finds out that you need an alignment “adjustment,” you’ll need to expect to spend more time waiting. This is necessary if your wheels are out of alignment enough to need to be adjusted back into line or if you’re noticing uneven wear on your tires. It might also be needed if there’s damage to your suspension system.

Adjusting an alignment like this can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on how bad things are. During the process, the technician will make more involved adjustments to get your wheels back in the right positions. They’ll use special equipment to measure your wheel angles and make precise adjustments to fix things.

Some issues that require adjustment include wheels that are out of range of the manufacturer’s specs, uneven tire wear, or damage to your suspension system.

front suspension example
Front Suspension Example

Is Wheel Alignment Necessary?

In short, the answer is yes – getting a wheel alignment is super important for the health and safety of your car.

When your wheels are out of alignment, it means that they’re not pointed in the right direction. This can cause problems like uneven tire wear, poor handling, and even reduced gas mileage. Over time, this can lead to bigger problems like damage to your suspension system and a shorter lifespan for your tires.

So, what causes wheels to go out of alignment? It can happen from normal wear and tear over time, hitting a pothole or curb, or even just driving on rough roads. Basically, anything that causes your tires to move around more than they’re supposed to can throw your alignment off.

To keep your car running smoothly and prevent bigger problems down the road, it’s a good idea to get your wheels aligned regularly.

Suspension Geometry/Components
Suspension Geometry Illustration

How Much Do Wheel Alignments Cost?

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a basic alignment check. If more extensive adjustments are needed like if your wheels are out of alignment or if there’s uneven wear on your tires, it could cost a bit more. A comprehensive alignment can cost anywhere from $100 to $200.

It’s important to note that the cost of a wheel alignment can also vary depending on where you go to get it done. Some places may offer more competitive pricing, while others may charge a premium for their services. Additionally, some shops may offer additional services as part of the alignment process, such as a tire rotation or balancing, which can add to the overall cost.

While the cost of a wheel alignment may seem like an extra expense, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits. Proper alignment can help extend the life of your tires, improve your vehicle’s handling and performance, and even improve your gas mileage. So, investing in a wheel alignment can actually save you money in the long run.


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Final Thoughts

The amount of time it takes to complete an alignment can vary depending on the type of alignment being performed, the condition of your tires and suspension, the expertise of the technician, and the availability of equipment and resources. 

A basic alignment check usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour, while a more comprehensive alignment can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.

Every car and every alignment is different, so it’s hard to give an exact timeframe.

If you plan on getting an alignment done, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and ask about wait times. And don’t forget to bring a good book or something to keep you entertained while you wait!

Good luck and happy motoring.

About The Author
Will Creech
Will has been an automotive enthusiast since he was old enough to make engine sounds. Formerly a member of the contract training team at Discount Tire, he is unusually knowledgeable on all things related to tires. He is now the owner of and main contributor to TireGrades.com.
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