Does it harm a vehicle to leave the wheels turned...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

Does it harm a vehicle to leave the wheels turned while parked or should the front wheels align with the rear wheels? Also, when trying to get the car out of a tight spot, does it wear out the tires prematurely to turn the front wheels while not moving?

TOM: No and yes. The answer to your first question is that you can leave the wheels pointed in any direction you want while the car is parked. It does no harm whatsoever. In fact, my brother still leaves the wheels pointing out towards the street everytime he parallel parks. It's a holdover from his days as a bank robber when he wanted to make quick getaways.

RAY: And turning the wheels while the car is standing still DOES wear out your tires. You probably learned in high school physics that "static friction" is greater than "rolling friction." So, in effect, you're scraping less rubber off the tires while you're rolling and steering than when you're standing still and steering.

TOM: If you want to prove this to yourself, drive a car without power steering. You'll see that the slower you go, the harder it is to steer. And it's nearly impossible to get out of a tight parking space in a hurry. In fact, that's one of the big reasons my brother gave up bank robbery and went into auto repair. That, and he didn't fit in with the upscale bank robbing crowd.

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