Heavy trucks see significant wear and tear, especially if they are part of a busy fleet. While the tires bear the brunt of all the heavy use, there are times when the actual problems lie with the alignment of the truck’s wheels.
Without proper alignment, driving can quickly become unsafe as well as expensive.
Misalignment in wheels is often the cause of issues like driver fatigue, handling problems, decreased fuel efficiency. Also, misalignment stresses various components and results in higher maintenance costs. Tires and fuel are the two highest operational costs that trucking companies have to bear, and proper wheel alignment can help you keep control of these costs.
If you randomly check various trucks in your fleet, you are likely to find some misalignment in some of them. Almost 50% of trucks on the road today are out of alignment. Alignments are a crucial aspect of preventative maintenance in all heavy-haul trucks. Often, the prices of new tires significantly exceed the cost of standard adjustments.
Trucks with misalignment in the wheels can experience significant tire drag and can burn up fuel at a highly alarming rate. In some situations, not getting regular wheel alignment done can result in an accident caused by loss of control due to the misalignment, while at others, it can cause a tire blowout.
What causes misalignment in wheels?
Many different things cause misalignment in wheels such as:
- Driving over gravelly stretches or poorly maintained roads is sometimes unavoidable, but that can also result in wheel misalignment.
- Slamming the wheels on the curbs when turning.
- Even minor accidents that shock the chassis can cause this problem.
- Poor maintenance
- Suddenly hitting a very deep pothole at high speed can throw your wheel out of alignment.
- Speeding, braking hard and cornering recklessly
- Hauling loads that have a high center of gravity causes weight imbalance and vibrations.
Signs That You Have Poor Wheel Alignment
Some common signs of wheel misalignment include:
- The tires go a little off-center, and you will notice this problem while steering the truck
- Difficulty maneuvering the truck
- The truck may coast and move to a different direction of you let up a bit on the steering wheel
- Steering will be much less responsive, and you will have a difficult time keeping the truck straight while driving
- The steering wheel doesn’t return to the center after you make a turn.
- The wheel could be a little shaky, and you may experience vibration at certain speeds.
- When braking, you find the truck veering to the right or left
- The tires don’t grip the road as before, compromising safety
- Reduced feeling of control
- Many truckers tend to blame their tires for irregular/excessive wear quickly. Keep in mind that the tires may be exhibiting signs of an alignment issue.
Effects of Driving Misaligned Trucks
- Driving a misaligned truck can affect driver comfort and result in frustration, exhaustion, and burnout. If your drivers feel that your vehicles are uncomfortable to drive, they may move to another company.
- Misalignment affects handling braking and steering, and all of these, including tire blowouts, can affect safety.
As mentioned earlier, you will find yourself dealing with unnecessary repairs and high fuel costs as well. The best way to avoid all these problems is to get regular wheel alignment checks done from a credible truck repair center.
The technicians will inspect all the components and check wheel alignment too. If they find anything amiss, they will fix it before it gets out of control and starts to cause various problems in your truck.