Key takeaways

  • It can cost between $50 for a two-wheel alignment to around $170 for a full four-wheel alignment.
  • Signs you need an alignment include car damage, steering issues, strange noises or uneven wear on the tires.
  • Certain factors can affect the price, such as the type of the car, extra services, local labor costs or how many wheels you have aligned.
  • Going without a vehicle alignment could affect gas mileage, lead to vehicle damage or cause uneven tire wear.

The safety features on your vehicle include more than anti-lock brakes, traction control devices and airbags. Your wheels and tires are important in keeping you safe by helping you drive straight, turn corners and stop whenever necessary. For optimal performance, have your vehicle tires properly aligned. Wheel alignment cost ranges can run as little as $50 or over $170.

How much does a tire alignment cost?

The complete service typically costs anywhere from $50 for a two-wheel alignment to $175 for a full four-wheel alignment, depending on the provider. It should be done about once a year, but the exact timing will depend on your car and driving habits.

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.

Expected wheel alignment costs

How much does an alignment cost in your state? The cost of a wheel alignment varies by establishment, type of vehicle and even your ZIP code. Here is a breakdown of the expected cost for a four-wheel vehicle alignment, by state, for a 2023 Toyota RAV4 LE according to Kelley Blue Book’s fair repair range.

City State Expected price
New York New York $125 to $173
Los Angeles California $120 to $165
Chicago Illinois $112 to $151
Dallas Texas $110 to $153
Orlando Florida $109 to $156
Atlanta Georgia $109 to $156
Richmond Virginia $109 to $156
Phoenix Arizona $120 to $165
Philadelphia Pennsylvania $125 to $173
Charlotte North Carolina $109 to $156

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.

  • 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.

How to know if you need a tire alignment

Preventive maintenance is critical for keeping you and your passengers safe. Although experts recommend that you should get your tires aligned every one to two years, there are some other signs you should head to the autobody shop.

  • Your car has been damaged. Following even a minor collision or accident, getting your tires checked out is smart. This is especially true if you have hit a curb or damaged your tires in another way.
  • You hear noises. Although some sounds are expected when operating your vehicle, loud squeaks when turning are a cause for concern.
  • Steering issues. If you have recently had any steering parts replaced or noticed a vibration when driving, the issue could be your tire alignment.
  • Uneven wear. Next time you are parked, look at how your tires are wearing. A tire alignment could be in order if one looks balder or an individual tire is wearing asymmetrically.

Why wheel alignment matters

Regularly adjusting your vehicle’s alignment offers several benefits that save you time, give you a smoother ride and keep you safer on the road. Tire alignment ensures that your car works as the manufacturer intended. Having improperly aligned tires could lead to worse gas mileage, more wear on your tires and damage to your vehicle’s components.

Also, keeping your car in good condition with regular maintenance might help it sell for a higher price. If you want to sell, check out current auto loan rates and our auto loan calculator.

Properly aligned tires maintain better contact with the road’s surface by extending the life of your tires and reducing skidding on slick roads. This also reduces rolling resistance and better absorbs road shock, resulting in improved gas mileage and a smoother ride on paved surfaces.

During the alignment, your mechanic may discover worn suspension parts, giving you an opportunity to replace them before they turn into a costly or dangerous mechanical problem that takes your car off the road for an extended period.

Getting your alignment

You can get an alignment done at any local mechanic or auto repair center. If you don’t have a relationship with a mechanic, call around for quotes or use resources like Kelley Blue Book to compare wheel alignment costs in your area.

While you should call ahead for an appointment, the wheel alignment should take only about an hour. However, the process could take longer if the mechanic finds any issues or needs to replace components.

While you wait, browse our current refinance rates to see if you could be saving on your car loan.

The bottom line

If getting an alignment seems expensive, remember that skipping it could ultimately be more expensive. Forgoing this preventative maintenance means you’ll have to replace the tires more frequently. Driving with unaligned tires could also wear out components like your suspension. Spending a hundred or so dollars each year on tire alignment could save you much more in costly repairs.