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This question already has an answer here:

My uncle says a driver advised him that whenever the car is parked, the wheels have to be aligned with the body of the car, or else there will be un-necessary weight on (I think) the axle or wheel, which reduces the life of the parts.

So is it really bad to park with the wheels at an angle as shown in the image below? Seems quite impractical to me, because while parking, the wheels inevitably do end up at an angle and a friend tells me the steering wheel should not be turned when the vehicle is stationary as that puts too much strain on the parts. Moving the car forward and backward just to get the wheels aligned expends extra fuel too.

enter image description here

marked as duplicate by George, anonymous2, tlhIngan, Chenmunka, Bob Cross Dec 18 '16 at 22:03

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  • 9
    You'd do more damage to the front wheel bearings by hauling the steering wheel about to straighten them with the car not moving. Plus extra forces on any power steering. – Criggie Sep 5 '16 at 10:18
  • 3
    Unnecessary weight on which part, exactly? Imagine how the whole assembly looks - what part is more strained when the wheels aren't aligned? – Luaan Sep 5 '16 at 12:48
  • 6
    Not in Sanfransico. – Bald Bantha Sep 5 '16 at 15:02
  • In California, you can also get a ticket if wheels are not aligned on a level street: When you park alongside a curb on a level street, the front and back wheels must be parallel and within 18 inches of the curb – artem Sep 6 '16 at 16:09
  • 1
    @artem - is that what that rule means? I always assumed it meant the car itself had to be parallel to the curb ... that is, the car not be angled ... but now that you've pointed out the actual rule I wonder. And I also wonder: If you're interpretation is correct, what is the possible reason? – davidbak Sep 6 '16 at 21:28
55

Not at all, in fact there are many occasions when you would want the tires at an angle to the body of the car. Any time you're parked on a hill it is prudent to angle the wheels of the car so that if the parking brake failed to hold the car would run into the curb.

If the wheels were aligned with the body when parked on a hill the car would be free to roll down the hill until it collided with something. That could be bad…

One more thing: if there is an increased load due to the wheels being turned, it is likely to be far less than the load imposed when the wheels are turned in normal driving (as then the car is turning and moving with forces imposed both by bumps and the act of turning). So even if the driver informing your uncle is correct about the load, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the life of the vehicle – not to mention needing to balance that impact against the impact of turning the wheels while the car is stationary.

  • 13
    I think to remember that at some locations it's also required by law to angle the wheels. Wasn't it San Francisco for slopes >3%? – sweber Sep 5 '16 at 8:45
  • 4
    It is required by law in some places. My sister got a ticket in Los Angeles because she forgot to angle the wheels while parking on a slope. – Gerald Schneider Sep 5 '16 at 9:44
  • 4
    Referred to as "kerbing/curbing the wheels" or tyres/tires as opposed to "curbing the rims" which is a nasty scuffing noise from the wheel rims on the concrete edge. – Criggie Sep 5 '16 at 10:16
  • 2
    @sweber: San Francisco Transportation Code 7.2.35. – Nate Eldredge Sep 5 '16 at 20:44
  • 2
    Kerb your car indeed, never hurts to have redundancy. Gearbox, Handbrake, kerbed wheels. I'd be more worried about the rubber taking a shape and being out of round. – mckenzm Sep 5 '16 at 23:47
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Perhaps my post is a bit late, but make sure you always face your wheels to an angle if you park your vehicle on a hill. A brake failure can lead into some heavy damage.

#1

If you parked your vehicle at an angle, you will get the following:

#2

Much better, right? Also, if you drive a car with a clutch, make sure you are in the reverse or the first gear. This will also prevent your car from moving if your parking brake fails.

  • For parking, I've always been taught to park on either first gear or reverse gear. So even if the brake fails, the gear holds the vehicle in place. I doubt keeping the tyre at an angle really helps as much as the gear. – Nav Sep 6 '16 at 4:51
  • Sorry I might wrote something down wrong. I meant that align the wheels with the car won't prevent the vehicle from moving. You're right – Noneatme Sep 6 '16 at 4:57
  • +1'ed for the 3d rendered answer. And for being right as well. – Steve Oakes Sep 6 '16 at 14:41
  • 2
    "This will also prevent your car from moving if your parking brake fails." Not necessarily. An acquaintance had a Pontiac Sunfire (yay) that would happily roll when in gear. Tiny motor and transmission, heavy car. Normally, I'd agree with you, however. – 3Dave Sep 6 '16 at 22:46
  • 1
    @iheanyi No idea what year it was. This was back in 98 and the car was a few years old, so it'd have to be the first generation. I just remember the car being a little gutless, but I was driving a twin-turbo 300ZX at the time so my perspective was a bit skewed. Drove fine, no clutch slippage or grinding, just had to make sure the parking brake was on. – 3Dave Sep 7 '16 at 16:48
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(I would have added this as a comment but I don't have the reputation yet)

As dlu pointed out, on steep hills you want to angle your front wheels towards the kerb, but there are also situations where you want to leave the wheels straight - my brother's car was written off when he left it parked on a very narrow street with the wheels at an angle. A van drove into the exposed tyre and popped the wheel off (and then drove away...)

5

The reasons taught by driving instructors to keep wheels angled to the kerb:

  1. one so that if the car rolls on a slope the tyres hit the kerb (as above);
  2. to avoid the wear and tear of turning the wheels when stopped (a no no);
  3. this is where they end up in a parallel park and makes it easy to leave.
4

It depends on other circumstances.

If you are on a slope angled wheels secure your car from rolling down. In the worst case you will damage your tyre agains curbs.

In parallel parking, aligning wheels is unnecessary wear of the tyres.

But if you are on leveled place with very limitted room aligned wheels allow you to push the car and free some room around you. In some places the bumper is used to bump the cars away to free the parking slot.

1

There is a reason I was taught for straightening the wheels when you park at the roadside.

It's simply so passing drivers can scan quickly along the line of parked cars and if the wheels are straight they don't have to take precautions against the vehicle pulling out. If the wheels are pointing out you should slow down, check indicators, presence of driver etc.

As others have mentioned, there's no mechanical reason for doing so.

0

I can think of a situation where you may want to straighten your wheels prior to getting off after parking. such as in a parking lot or garage when your car is parked close alongside another vehicle. Once you get in and start reversing the front end may hit the vehicle next to you if you still have the wheels turned.

-1

Power steering. Rotating the wheels while at rest is nothing to even think about. You may as well worry about wearing out your turn signal bulbs with all that flashing on/off.

However if the engine is off, do not turn the wheels in a power steering car, at least going by the old Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth van in the driveway. The pump has issues with that. When I do so, I do it very slowly, no problems.

  • 4
    Welcome to the site. We appreciate you being here and answering. I'd like to suggest you look up the term "dry steering". This is what happens when you turn the wheel while the car is at rest. This causes a huge amount of wear (in relative terms) to the tire in one spot. If you have any doubt about this, turn the wheel back and forth a couple of times at rest, then move the car and look at where the tires sat. There'll be two large black spots (can be more easily seen on concrete than asphalt). – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 6 '16 at 20:54

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