Preventative truck maintenance is meant to help you get the most out of your truck. A good maintenance schedule can reduce total operating expenses and extend the life of your truck. If getting wheel alignment service is not something you've previously considered, it's time you give it some thought. Compared to other maintenance routines like oil service, truck alignment is often ignored but can lead to severe damage over time.
Proper alignment is vital to prolonging tire life. It's also an essential part of maintenance and should be done more often for optimal vehicle performance. This article explains why you need regular truck and trailer alignment checkups.
What Causes Truck Misalignment?
Misalignment can result from the road, the driver, or worn truck parts. The following are the top three reasons why your truck may be out of alignment:
- A sudden impact from a curb, pothole, driving too fast over a bump, or an accident.
- Suspension parts, such as old or loose shocks or struts, may affect alignment.
- Vehicle modification, like lifting, can lead to misalignment. Your truck's suspension is meant to work within a particular height designed by the manufacturer. If the height is modified, the suspension must also be adjusted. Otherwise, it can cause misalignment.
Why You Need Regular Alignment Checkups
Wheel alignment involves adjusting the angles of wheels in line with the manufacturer's specifications. This makes the truck and trailer track straight when not steering and makes for better vehicle handling. Since the engine is responsible for converting chemical energy in the fuel to mechanical energy, when the wheels work against each other, more power is needed to move the vehicle. This means the truck's engine will burn more fuel to generate extra power.
While the type of tire impacts gas mileage, improper misalignment is also one of the causes of increased fuel consumption. Misalignment makes your truck work harder when steering, which means more gas is wasted. As a result of perfect wheel alignment, you will save money on new tires and fuel and reduce the amount of CO2 your truck generates. This implies that you will not only have more money in your wallet but also be helping the environment!
Prolong Tire Life
When a truck is properly aligned, all four wheels tend to move in tandem with each other, allowing the truck driver to take control of the vehicle rather than the wheels. Having your truck out of alignment means uneven, premature, and rapid tire tread wear. Putting off the alignment checkup routine until the last minute might lead to your truck needing tire changes more often.
Even a slight misalignment causes uneven and excessive wear. What's more, premature and uneven tire wear affects the handling capabilities of the truck. Alignment ensures your truck goes straight down the road, handles correctly, and prevents excessive tire strain. Since commercial truck tires are an expensive investment, you can save a lot of money by taking your truck for regular alignment checkups to maximize the lifespan of your tires.
When your truck's wheel alignment is off, you will notice it while driving. The mismatched wheels tend to struggle and drag. As a result, the truck may vibrate, pull to one side, or feel less smooth to drive. Furthermore, even if your steering wheel is straight, you will feel like your vehicle drifts to the left or right. Constantly adjusting the steering wheel due to improper alignment can be exhausting, distracting, and dangerous. Periodic wheel alignment services, on the other hand, will guarantee a smooth ride on the road.
By having a certified mechanic perform proper alignment, they will adjust the angle of the truck's wheels, making them vertical and parallel to each other. Therefore, your track won't have a pull effect, and you can't compensate while driving by regularly shifting your wheel. While you may experience this advantage on all rides you take, it's particularly noticeable during long-distance drives.
Improper alignment affects not only the safety of the driver but also the passengers and pedestrians as well. When your truck's wheels are out of alignment, it prevents the four tires from resting in unison against the road. A truck with poor alignment doesn’t grip the road with the efficiency it should. This may change how your track handles and how certain tires might sustain wear. Some tires will end up sustaining more damage than others in shorter periods. This affects your driving capability in harsh weather, such as snow, ice, or rain.
By limiting your level of control as the truck driver, improper alignment poses the risk of an accident since you can't sustain consistent traction with unbalanced tires. This makes turning your wheel more complex, and you may notice resistance in your suspension system. A proper alignment gives you control of your truck in any terrain or weather condition, minimizing the possibility of causing an accident.
Damage to Other Parts
The longer you drive a truck with misaligned wheels, the more likely you will experience wear to vehicle parts. If the problem is not addressed at its early stages, these parts will no longer be effective and safe to drive due to excessive uneven wear. A misaligned frame on a body-on-frame chassis can put more pressure on a suspension that wasn't built to withstand the amount. Additionally, a vehicle's side impact might cause sideways strain on your leaf springs. These parts are not designed to withstand sideways loads and may fail as a result.
The independent suspension systems used in unibody designs are prone to the same type of damage. A bent unibody frame might stress your truck's parts that were not designed to be pressured. If the initial impact of stress on the suspension system doesn't damage it, the long-term impacts will.
A Final Word
Regular alignment checkups can save you a lot of stress down the road. Even the slightest impact can cause the alignment to shift if it happens on a regular basis. Because alignment affects vital parts such as the suspension, you may have difficulties with your shocks, tires, and struts long after your insurance has paid for your repairs.
While fixing the exterior of your truck may improve its appearance, paying attention to interior details is critical for a well-functioning vehicle. A misaligned truck can indicate that your safety on the road might be at risk. Get in touch with a credible expert to perform regular safety checks to ensure your truck is always safe to drive.