Truck alignment is an essential task that drivers should do now and then to keep their trucks in good condition and reduce operating costs. This is because most of the tire failures and other complications are caused by improper alignment. Interestingly, over half of the heavy-duty trucks on the road are misaligned. An aligned truck has its tires rolling in the same direction as the vehicle travels. Even though it is not easy to achieve, it pays to align your truck.
Benefits of Truck Alignment
One of the most obvious benefits of regular alignment is reduced operating costs achieved through long tire life. In addition to long life, proper tire alignment is associated with fuel economy and less component wear. Also, the driver is less fatigued as the truck stays balanced in a straight line.
Disadvantages of Misaligned Trucks
There is a risk of wear and tear of truck tires, mainly because steering tires have to be turned continuously to keep the vehicle stable. Driving a misaligned truck causes the driver to wear out as he or she constantly tries to maintain the vehicle in the right direction. Drivers face a lot of challenges and often complain that the truck is pulling to one side. In many most cases, the ‘pull’ is an indication of axle misalignment. The pulling causes the driver to be in a constant fight with the wheels. Another drawback of misaligned trucks is the extra fuel consumed when the driver has to make many turns rather than maintain a straight line.
How Should The Truck Be Aligned?
Contrary to what many people think, the alignment of a truck is different from the alignment procedures of personal vehicles (which tend to be small). Generally, personal cars do not need much alignment on the body, and fixing the “front end” may be enough. Trucks, however, have key components such as tandem axles, which cannot be aligned from the front end alone. The axles have a lot of impact on a truck. If not aligned, the vehicle can become imbalanced and, in extreme cases, cause the truck to roll.
When Should A Driver Consider Truck Repair/ Alignment?
Even though they are considered durable, trucks are made of moving parts that wear out after some time. They require regular maintenance to remain in perfect condition. Over time, degradation of the moving parts can lead to an imbalance of the truck’s components. Truck repair and alignment should be done in the following instances;
• In case of a breakdown
• Following a collision with another vehicle
• When the truck is due for service after covering a given distance.
• As a routine maintenance procedure
Checking Trucks for Alignment
The process of checking trucks for alignment is not as complicated as many people would imagine. It is simple and takes a short time. It involves taking measurements from the kingpin to the front axle. Other dimensions to consider are the distance between the front and the rear. If the measurements are nearly identical, it means the vehicle is in good condition. However, if they are out by more than a quarter-inch, you should visit a truck shop for alignment.
Only a few truck fleets ensure regular alignments on their vehicles. The majority of people wait until an issue arises and perform alignment as a corrective measure. As discussed in this article, performing regular alignments encourages the truck’s long life and ensures that the drivers are in perfect health as they drive. This reduces the number of accidents caused by possible driver fatigue. Truck misalignment sometimes manifests as irregular wear conditions on steer tires. Drivers should be on the look-out for such and visit a truck shop as soon as they detect any issues.