Commercial Truck & Bus Alignment

FAQs About Your Tire Alignment

When should a new truck be aligned?

Bridgestone and the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) recommended Practice RP 642A-2 suggests a “post break-in” alignment between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. TMC recommends this break-in period because it is where vehicles experience the most change in the components affecting alignment. Aligning too early can do more harm than good. TMC recommends subsequent alignments be done every 80,000 to 100,000 miles after the post break-in alignment. Get your alignments done at about the same intervals as replacing steer tires.

What are the top reasons to check alignment?

Check alignment if you observe irregular tire wear. Check alignment if the driver reports steering or handling problems. Check alignment any time the vehicle has been damaged, or if components that affect alignment have been replaced.

Where do alignment problems originate?

Commercial tire wear problems may show up on steer tires, but may be coming from the drive or the trailer axles, which can have a huge effect on overall vehicle alignment. Many alignment experts rank drive axles as causing the most trouble, followed by trailer axles, with steer axles ranking last.

Why do different shops get different alignment results?

Not all shops have the same equipment or attention to calibration. The technicians’ level of training is another factor in the results. 

Should good alignment eliminate irregular wear?

Once irregular wear starts on a steer or trailer tire, there is no way to counteract it. Unfortunately, it’s just going to continue to get worse. If you put new tires on after you align, they should wear evenly, but your old tires are going to continue to show irregular wear. Also, bear in mind that there’s a difference between a vehicle that’s aligned to “spec” and one that’s aligned to “tire wear.”

How should alignment specs be interpreted?

The manufacturers establish alignment specs based on their experience of what works best with the average conditions of use. However, your conditions may not be “average.” You may haul much heavier or much lighter loads. You may have more or less road crown along your routes. There are so many operational variables. If you think about road crown, for example, it’s trying to push the vehicle off the road and onto the shoulder. If the vehicle were aligned for a perfectly flat road, the driver would have to  apply constant force to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on the crowned road.  The alignment specs try to take things like that into account.

Why does alignment matter?

A misaligned vehicle not only wastes rubber and fuel, but can also be a detriment to a driver’s energy and attitude. However, when the vehicle and tires are both going in the same direction under load capacity and at normal speeds, the well-aligned truck wastes very few of these things.

So how do we know if our trucks are truly properly aligned?

Tire wear is the best indicator. The lifespan of your tires last will tell you whether your axles are properly aligned. Correct inflation pressure and alignment are the two biggest factors in tire longevity.

What should you expect from a proper alignment service?

Reputable shops employ only certified technicians. These shops are clean and orderly. They probably came recommended because they have a solid reputation. A good alignment shop will give you a “Before and After” report that compares settings. In addition to the report, drivers should expect a test drive to look for any change in handling or road feel.